Unraveling Traveling: Are We There Yet?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Wendy Perrin, consumer news editor at Condé Nast Traveler, joins us every Thursday this May as part of our month-long series on travel. Today's topic: travel with children. Wendy is accompanied today by writer and former flight attendant Hollis Gillespie, the travel columnist for Paste magazine and author of the forthcoming book Trailer Trashed: My Dubious Efforts Toward Upward Mobility.

Where would you like to go with your kids this summer? Have any questions for Wendy or Hollis? Comment below!


Hollis Gillespie and Wendy Perrin

Comments [56]

Soultravelers3 from Spain

Great show!

I think one of the best ways to travel as a family is slow travel. It gives the family greater time to bond and enjoy the adventure together.

We have been traveling the world as a family since 2006 on an open ended global tour on a budget and find it to be the best decision of our lives.

This is our second winter in southern Spain in a village house with ocean views. We live large on 33 dollars a day for a family of 3.

A weekly rental in the winter is cheap, but month rentals are that much cheaper. If you homeschool or do distance learning or can work from your computer, a family can take advantage of slow travel which is much less expensive and much more enjoyable for adults and children.


Traveling with children is really the best gift you can give a child. I know I am grateful that my parents gave that to me, & I can already see what great benefits this has been for our family!

May. 09 2008 12:50 PM
Colleen from Westchester

We HAD to fly on a regular basis to see family and then to and from Asia with our two children. I DREADED flights - still do. I got an ok from my dr. for precise dosage of Benadryl, but honestly, it never had an effect - it has no effect on me either.

I agree with some of the other posters about having a SEPARATE area for those of us with small children. I used to just cringe when people would look at us and ask to be moved or they would huff and puff. When the kids were great, passengers (usually men) would comment on how well they behaved.

Traveling to Asia was not an option for us - we had to do it. My son has wonderful memories - he went to school in Shanghai and Hong Kong but my daughter has no recollection at all.

In addition, I was always SO GRATEFUL to the airline attendants. On some flights (it was South China Airlines I believe) I was provided with formula, baby food, and diapers were available as well as wipes. I was thankful and I appreciated those amenities that much more when I needed SOMETHING and it was not around.

I spent a great deal of time in the bathrooms on those int'l flights with my infant daughter. My husband and I would trade them off and as they grew older DVDs were a gift from heaven!

Those inflight manuals are pretty interesting to small children as well.

May. 08 2008 04:56 PM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ


My parents didn’t fly me on a plane until they new I was not fidgety and I could entertain myself and they did this before DVD’s, video games and anything like that that turns today’s kids into zombies… Imagine that, no DVD’s or even a VCR…. Didn’t fly until I was 6 years old. We drove everywhere before that.

So yes, if you have a colicky or whinny kid that can’t stop fidgeting no matter how many toys you bring or how much Tylenol you give them, don’t bring them to the adult movies, don’t bring them on the plane. Drive or wait until they are old enough. Neither you nor your kid will suffer if you can’t go on vacation during the toddler years. Have your relatives visit you and if they can’t afford to, use your vacation money to fly them to see you. Contrary to many parents beliefs, public places are not parent’s family room in their house where they can let their unruly kids run wild. The crap I see kids get away with would have gotten me in deep trouble as a kid. Its simple, respect the people around you as you would want and expect to be respected.

May. 08 2008 04:41 PM


The reason we parents are so concerned with keeping our children entertained is that we don't want them to bother people like you and Vanessa--who thinks that children should just stay home. Just stay home? Did you travel when you were a child, or did you just stay home?

Most parents that I know put a lot of effort into keeping their kids entertained for the benefit of other travelers, not to indulge their children. Believe me, I wouldn't spend the money on DVDs if I didn't have to.

It's not that parents think that their kids can "do no wrong", it's that traveling in a confined space with a toddler is hard! Try it some time.

May. 08 2008 02:15 PM
arthur Littman from brooklyn

Actually, traveling without kids (2) for the first time after years of traveling with them can have some noteworthy moments. I found myself automatically making left turns into safari parks when there was no longer the need, and having to restrain myself from reaching out to ruffle the hair of some strange kid standing next to me who was the member of some other family. Then, the kids, or at least their ghosts, were never quite that far away. In the English blueberry patch, I quaffed double helpings to honor them.
When we arrived home after two irresponsible weeks,my 14 year-old son, greeted us with a cast on his arm. He'd been thrown from a tractor at a work camp and had had it operated on the day before. At that part of our trip, we were in the "no zone" and couldn't be reached. Are you ever "without" your kids.

May. 08 2008 12:50 PM
Michele Day from New Jersey

Travel with kids is like anything else -- you get out of it what you put into it. One of my daughters is deaf. Children without access to spoken language have a harder time learning language. They also often are visual or experiental learners. So, we have used our family trips as learning adventures, whether it is just a road trip to visit family or a longer plane trip. We get books and read about where we are going beforehand, we read in the car, we arrange for interpreters at tourist sites, and we make scrapbooks in which we write about our trip. On car trips, they help navigate (learning to read maps); play the license plate game (learning the states); play the state capitals game; play travel bingo. They enjoy the big trips (like Disney), but they also enjoy swimming in hotel pools and going for hikes. Mostly, though, I think we all enjoy the time together as a family without distractions of work or daily chores.

May. 08 2008 11:37 AM
Dennis from Inwood Manhattan


You can't understand why Corzine would quit the Senate to become governor of NJ. A senator cannot get anything DONE! Why do you think Senators Kerry, Clinton, Obama, McCain run AWAY from their record?

May. 08 2008 11:34 AM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ


That’s a fantastic idea, a separate part of the plane for parents and kids. You left out one very important detail, a big cement wall that separates this group from the rest of us on a plane. Travel is not always for fun. Some of us travel because our job requires us to. To parents that think its ok for their kid to kick seats, run up and down the isle and scream at the top of their lungs I ask this question, how would you like it if I sat next to you on a business trip and bugged the crap out of you while your just trying to get a couple of hours of sleep because you wont be sleeping for the next 24 hours or so?

May. 08 2008 11:17 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Overmedicating children is not funny--it can be dangerous. If you think your child might need medicine on a trip, please **ask your doctor** about it ahead of time--don't try to improvise on the spot.

May. 08 2008 11:14 AM
Jamie Pearson from Palo Alto

I'd like to hear if Wendy has any insights into resources for cool European (or American) farmstay options for families. I've never done this, but would love to.

Experience and intuition tell me that any time a trip has a built in petting zoo, the odds of success increase dramatically.

May. 08 2008 11:08 AM
thatgirlinnewyork from manhattan

could anything be more annoying than to listen to one travel writer best the other about how many languages her perfectly-behaved, worldly 6-year old can use to say "ladybug"? so useful! agree with the commenters above who think this segment only caters to those who can afford transatlantic journeys for their perfect progeny. as the kids would say, "vom!"

May. 08 2008 11:03 AM
Molly from New Jersey


My 4 year old absolutely remembers and loved Sweden. We got to see Pippi Longstocking's house and the royal castle and many other things. Don't underestimate what kids can absorb (and what photos can do to remind them of all the things we got to see). Also, I have to save up for these trips - my husband is a student and I work for a nonprofit. I just happen to place a lot of importance on traveling, since I didn't get to do it as a kid. My kids are well-behaved, not kicking seats, not jumping around. We are considerate travelers and these trips are adventures for all of us. I would never consider any trip anywhere a waste of money. I think it's a shame that you do.

May. 08 2008 11:02 AM
Leonardo Andres

I am going to have to say it is pretty evident that this segment shows a disparity of salary based mentality.

They are people who think if they can afford it, then it must be okay because it is for the kids. I am making an assumption that the parents who are taking the kids to europe, are the parents who probably are going to give their 16 year old an elaborate birthday party, and a bmw when they get their license and will be spoiling their kids forever and ever.

If you are boasting that your kids have been all over the world by the age of 2, then i do not think my assumptions are that far off.

May. 08 2008 11:02 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Drugging kids to keep them quiet is not funny--it can be dangerous. If you think your child may need to be medicated on a flight, **ask your doctor** ahead of time--don't try to improvise on the spot!

May. 08 2008 11:01 AM
nora york from new york city

My friend took her my god daughter to Nepal on a trek when the little girl was 7 years old. It was amazing -- they hired a sherpa who carried little lucy when she was too tired... and for Lucy -- this was a huge important moment in her life.

and hey -- what was that great music about "are we there yet" at the top of the show?

[from BL Producer: It was a song called "Are We There Yet?" by Jamie Broza.]

May. 08 2008 11:01 AM
Kai from Germany

There are so many things airlines come up with to get new clients. Why not create a section especially for kids with a person that entertains them?

May. 08 2008 10:59 AM
Pete from NJ

My mom, a new widow at the time, took all 9 of her kids through Europe in a Volkswagen bus in the summer of 1968. We started at Shannon Airport and drove all through Europe and ended up in Mallorca for our flight home. We left at the end of June and ended up in time to return to school in September. And my mom -- who wrote a book about the experience -- always said that the trip was the perfect cure for odd socks! We didn't have a single odd sock upon our return.

May. 08 2008 10:59 AM
Annie Hawthorwx from Brooklyn

Children should be brought to Europe instead of fake Europe like Disneyland. Busy play like game rooms and swimming pools serve no purpose and develpoing brains need REAL LIFE. Not repetitive games, motels with pools etc.

May. 08 2008 10:59 AM
Patti from New York

Any suggestions/tips for SINGLE MOTHERS/parents travelling with a toddler

May. 08 2008 10:58 AM
Lucy Tullo from new Jersey

No one has mentioned DVD's. For a 2.5 hour flight it's the best thing. You just need headphones and a small DVD player. We let them pick out their favorite movies and away we go! Reading books to them is good too.
Colonial Williamsburg is a great place to take kids. My kids are 6, 8 and 13 so it's hard to find a place they will all like and a place adults will like too.

May. 08 2008 10:58 AM
b Lynd from NYC

I am so happy my parents took all 3 of us kids on driving vacations in the 50's + 60's. I have great memories of herds of bison in North Dakota, beautiful arches of stone in National Parks, Mesa Verde Indian ruins, and on and on. Yes, sometimes it was boring but it was also a lot of fun and now I treasure those memories. Plus my mom was a lot less stressed being in hotels where they made the beds and eating in restaurants where she did not have to cook 3 meals a day.

May. 08 2008 10:58 AM

with all the carbon released by all these trips there may be no future for your children.

May. 08 2008 10:58 AM
Marsha Andrews from New York

Give me a break!! Drugging kids when you travel? My daughter had flown 32 times by the time she was 2 and we never had a problem. A little ingenuity and nursing or giving water for the ears works great. We always had all sort os projects and books to entertain her. At 23 now she has never had an aspirin, tylenol etc. and just is graduating from Yale!! Parents cop out by having lack of patience and creativity. We took her into the opera when her dad sang at 5 months and she never cried because of the nursing or sucking on my finger.

May. 08 2008 10:57 AM
Becky from NJ

Eating tip: We've taken our six year old picky eater to Europe (Italy, France, the UK) four times and for dinner, highly recommend what we call "pre-feeding." For instance in France we buy him a much-loved burger at Flunch (like McDonald's) at around 6 p.m., while we cool our jets sipping wine. Then we headed to a real restaurant where he is happy to hang out, drink fancy sodas (we always order something for him), play with small toys, talk, eat bread, and have dessert with us. We get to spend time relaxing together over a nice meal. We also recommend staying in apartments, and it's great to share a house with another family--particularly if there's a pool--to save precious euros and avoid the restaurant scene. Someday this child will kick himself for not eating his way across France and Italy (particularly before the dollar died)! But for now he freaks out when they cut the pizza in squares and not triangles. P.S. Pre-feeding works great stateside, too!

May. 08 2008 10:57 AM
Maurice Marvi from NJ

I once had to travel with my 7 month old twins for a family function. My kids were pretty well behaved, but did cry once in a while.

I got a really dirty look from a man behind me. I was tired and didn't want to deal, so I told him "I hope your children never make a sound!"

His wife was livid, and if we weren't in a public area, I think she may have killed HIM for complaining.

May. 08 2008 10:57 AM
John from Bklyn

I guess the people who are so annoyed were born into adulthood!

May. 08 2008 10:56 AM
Pam, M.D. from Qns.

Brian, let your guests know that Tylenol is NOT anti-inflammatory; so, it will NOT reduce ear-clogging in otitis.

May. 08 2008 10:55 AM
nancy from riverdale

Books! I've traveled every corner of the world with my 4 sons. Engaging the kids, at whatever age, in books that are relevant to the destination -- including museums in Italy -- is an sure winner for capturing their interest. It's a great way to get through the travel phase. Just one example... On a train ride from Paris through Austria, I read Bram Stoker's Dracula aloud (carefully edited during certain passages). The boys were captivated and their imaginations were fully engaged.

May. 08 2008 10:53 AM
judy from NYC

Blowing your nose will completely clear your ears during descent.

May. 08 2008 10:52 AM
Leonardo Andres


I am sure you're 4 year old got a lot of her trip to spain, and sweden? how ridiculous....I don't mind opening the world up for kids, but to take kids on a long airplane ride to something they won't appreciate is a waste of money. But it seems you probably don't have to worry about that.

May. 08 2008 10:51 AM
Mike from Northern Manhattan

What about the lawsuit for just passing out a drug that could harm the kid.

May. 08 2008 10:51 AM
June Sidwell Fenniman from Mt. Vernon, NY

Great topic, I have 2 boys 4 and 10, and we travel alot and have since they were infants. We don't have the dvd players, electronic toys (they're so deprived! ha!) they read books, audio books, legos, when in the car. I don't believe they sould miss the journey by watching mindless cartoons, we've all survived! Jet Blue tvs are their favorite, of course. We've gone to Europe severall times, stayed with friends, which helps, but their favorite is when we visit a castle type place with gardens and grounds they can explore like kids, and the inside museum quality of the buildings. Europe is much more child friendly. We've had great trips. As for local places, the Hancock Shaker Museum is fabulous, interesting and great outdoor spaces to run!

May. 08 2008 10:51 AM
RosieNYC from NYC

Go visit Grandma and arrange for your and your spouse to stay in a hotel :-)

Trains! Best trips we have ever had: anywhere were we could take a train for no more than 3-4 hours.

Flying: game-boy, dvd players and activity books with lots of crayons, markers, and if you are daring enough, a couple of easy crafts.

Driving: plenty of stops about every 2 or 2.5 hours; plus all the same stuff you would bring on a plane. We have been going to Virginia Beach since my daughter was 3, a 10 hour drive, so we have it down: 1. Get going, 2. stop for breakfast within 2 hours, 3. start a movie, 4. once movie is over stop for lunch. 5. Quiet activities (and if you are lucky enough, nap!),then repeat from 3. with dinner in the middle.

Do not agree with your guest regarding car seats on planes. No matter how small the kid, if you hit turbulence, you will not be able to hold on to your infant. Very dangerous.

Second, what's the point of a family vacation if you are going to stuck the kids in a day care center. A family vacation is really a vacation for the kids. Once you are done with your family vacation, you can take your own grown-up vacation to recover from your "family vacation".

May. 08 2008 10:51 AM
Hannah Podob

Air travel with small kids sitting on your lap is really a bad idea.
Imagine if there's turbulence and your rocked forward, you do you think is the first to get hit? It's the child in your lap before you get hit.
Always get a seat for your child.

May. 08 2008 10:50 AM
Vanessa from Brooklyn

I wish more parents would leave their kids at home. The noises of kids have ruined almost every train or air trip that I've ever had. Can you ask the question of how parents can keep kids quiet on modes of transportation in a society where parents feel "my kid can do no wrong?"

May. 08 2008 10:50 AM
susan from manhattan

I couldn't agree more...take the kids camping. Upstate. I grew up going to Lake George. It is a great destination, and a beautiful trip by car if you take the roads less traveled instead of the freeway.

May. 08 2008 10:49 AM
Leonardo Andres

lorenzo i couldn't agree more.

I used to seat in the car talking to my sister or helping my parents navigate, when i was little.

Why do this parents think this kids need to always be entertained? i guess that replaces the need to disciplined them.

May. 08 2008 10:48 AM
hjs from 11211

Lorenzo 15
shhh, if they are kept entertained i can sleep on the plane.

May. 08 2008 10:47 AM
Molly from New Jersey

Taking kids overseas is not a waste of money! These trips, no matter how small your children are, make an indelible impression on them and instill in them a sense of adventure and a willingness to try new things. My two girls (ages 4 and 7) have been to Spain, Sweden, Alaska, Mexico, and our favorite trip: Costa Rica, which we highly recommend for families (hiking, beaches, incredible wildlife). We're off to Kaua'i in two weeks.

May. 08 2008 10:46 AM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ

Could you ask you guest about the parents that have kids that obviously don’t travel well but they insist on brining them and make everybody else miserable on an airplane?

May. 08 2008 10:46 AM
susan from manhattan

Why bring the children if you are going to slot them into daycare?

It is great that your guest has gone on a cruise...but the idea of sticking kids into a cruise-ship daycare is really kind of....eech.

These days, I don't know who can afford a cruise, though.

Also-- traveling with kids on airplanes is not great for the kids sometimes...if their ears are bad, it can be really painful. For babies, especially.

May. 08 2008 10:46 AM
Katie from Forest Hills

Lake George, exit 26 off the Northway in upstate NY, north of Albany is a great place to take kids. There are 3 boats to take the kids on for a 2-3 hours cruise, the Mohegan, the Mini-Ha Ha and the Lac du Saint Sacrement, shopping, and beaches, tons of restaurants.

Check out Saratoga up there too.

Here in NYC, take them to the Hall of Science in Queens.

May. 08 2008 10:44 AM

I don't have children but.. isn't this need to
entertain children a bit out of control?
Parts of life will always be boring so why not learn how to cope with it sooner rather than later?

May. 08 2008 10:44 AM
jw from nyc

Trains!We went with our train maniac son to York in England. The National Rail Museum is the Holy Grail of train museums, with the fastest steam train, the Mallard, the centerpiece of its magnificent collection.All the small train maniacs ran around together.
Also, the Children's Museum in London is fantastic. York, however, was a revelation for my husband and me. Completely walkable and fascinating historically, it was easily accessible from London by, yes, rail on the historical "Flying Scotsman" line.

May. 08 2008 10:44 AM
bandy from New York

So you travel for work and now those of us in the next aisle of the plane have to pay the price for your choice when your kids bounce around making a racket. Very considerate!

May. 08 2008 10:44 AM
Benita from Greenwich Village

My husband always says that there are "two ways to travel: First Class or with kids."

May. 08 2008 10:43 AM
John from Manhattan

When I was a kid, my sister and I were in the back seat of the family VW bug all the way from NY to Florida! We played a game called Rack-o. The luggage was back there with us too.

May. 08 2008 10:43 AM

Why take kids on a long plane flight?


Or, to expand their horizons. Too many people in this country think their neighborhood is the whole world.

May. 08 2008 10:43 AM
inquisigal from Brooklyn

Is it just me, or is this segment a little too focused on options for a certain class of people? I don't know too many people who are taking family trips to Europe with their young children...

May. 08 2008 10:43 AM
Steve Mark from NYC

Forget about airplanes and foreign travel. Plan a road adventure in NY upstate. Its got history, nature, cheap hotels, recreational sites. You can follow George Washington's revolutionary war up the Hudson to Saratoga; explore Woodstock and the Catskills; the Erie Canal; it's a wonderland and you can stop whenever you want. Appropriate for ages 9 to 16.

May. 08 2008 10:42 AM
Mark Dzula from Inwood, NYC

I know you're not taking comments on Disney World, but I would like to suggest it as one of the worst places to take kids. My wife and I went with our sister's family and everything about that place sucks the life out of children! Thankfully the lines weren't outrageous but the sheer amount of things to buy caused the family stress and ultimately upset the kids who felt like they really "needed" to buy stuff!

May. 08 2008 10:41 AM
Chuck from NJ

Triangle X Ranch in Wyoming. The kids get their own horses for the week.

May. 08 2008 10:40 AM
Sara Richelson from Armonk

We always traveled with a ball (and our 2 boys of course.) In the airport, we would find an empty area and toss the ball, roll the ball, run, and generally allow the children to use their energy. Then, when they had to get on the plane, they were just beginning to use their good behavior and weren't already getting nudgy.

May. 08 2008 10:39 AM
Leonardo Andres

I never understood the point of taking small kids to places overseas, such as spain. It seems like a waste of money to me. You don't really appreciate the change of culture and the different atmosphere until puberty at least.

May. 08 2008 10:38 AM
Terry from New Jersey

car travel - dvd player is a lifesaver

May. 08 2008 10:37 AM
Ellen Kahaner from south orange, nj

I write a blog about traveling and reading with kids, I find that doing a little research beforehand - i.e. - going to the library or using the search engine at Bankstreet Books - and coming up with fiction and non-fiction titles about where we're traveling helps build excitement and focus. Also, we always check out independent bookstores, collect brochures, maps, etc. Making the reading connection makes travel fun!

May. 08 2008 09:15 AM

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