Last week we looked at sanity-preserving pre-departure tips for traveling with kids. This week we highlight 5 recommendations to consider during your house exchange.
Appease Jet Lag Like Neville Chamberlain
Depending on the distance traveled for your exchange, jet lag may be one of your first major challenges. Your family’s internal clock, and especially that of your kids, will be completely shot after a long flight. Here are a few tips for riding it out:
1. Don’t fight it. If the kids are tired, let them sleep. If they are awake, let them be awake. Only time will really right this ship.
2. Rest when they rest. No use trying to stave off sleep. If they are tired, you likely could use a rest yourself. Enjoy!
3. Distract. Remember those great things we recommend you bring along last week? Well, if you have to keep the family awake, try some mental stimulation.
4. Eat right. Some people feel eating good, nutritious food minimized the impact of jet-lag. Give it a try. It couldn’t hurt. (OK, maybe it will hurt your sweet tooth…)
Flank the Baggage Claim Like General Patton
My wife and I love baggage-claim strategery. (It is a word now, I promise). When traveling alone, we try to outdo each other with our clever bag-grabbing optimized positioning. If you see a guy straddling a baggage conveyor in pursuit of a huge, green duffel bag, that’s me. Keep your distance.
When traveling with kids, however, patience is a virtue.
Stand just “downstream” from where the baggage comes out. This avoids the masses a bit upstream and allows you to spot your bag early.
Also, if there are two parents present, have one stand with the kids to the side while the other hustles to get the baggage. Much easier than putting the entire family in jeopardy.
Discover Lost Luggage Like Magellan (Except Don’t Give It A Plague That Wipes Out Its Native Population…)
Ah, the inevitable “lost luggage” conundrum. It happens to the best of us. And the worst of us.
So, what do you do when traveling with kids and all of juniors most precious, and needed, belongings go MIA?
First, be sure to contact the airline luggage agents immediately. I know, you have been traveling for what seems like an eternity, and all you want is to arrive at your destination and introduce head to pillow. Don’t put it off. Let the airline know right away, and arrange for delivery when the bag turns up.
Second, insist that the bag be delivered to your destination, no matter how far away it is from the airport. Remember, they lost your luggage, and they need to make it right.
Third, buy the bare necessities needed to get you through 24-48 hours. By then you will either have your bag back, or know that the worst truly has happened, and you need to shop for the long term.
Don’t Photograph Like TMZ.com
Travel pictures with kids can be a challenge. You want all the memories, they want to be left alone, and you are in a sea of great photo opportunities. What are you to do?
HomeExchangeUniveristy.com recommends giving the kids a chance to partake.
For the youngest kids, buy them a disposable camera and let them point and click till their hearts content. Sure, they will not remember to wind the camera after every take, but they will feel like they are part of the trip. For kids a bit older, buy an inexpensive digital camera for them and let them, too, experience the joy of photography. Who knows, maybe you gave birth to the next Ansel Adams, and this trip is the start of a beautiful artistic career. Or maybe not.
Also, as an aside, be sure you ask permission before taking pictures in public, especially of individuals up close. Some cultures are more sensitive about photography than others. Either way, permission is always a great sign of respect.
Scout Toilets Like Lewis and Clark
Finding a clean, suitable toilet in your home country can sometimes be impossible. Add the foreign travel element and you have great potential for disaster.
Make sure you have change for the restroom when traveling to foreign countries. Many countries charge a small fee for restroom use.
Also, check out great online resources for bathroom locations in the country you are visiting. For example, this site highlights some of the better rest stops in Paris. Do a Google search before leaving the country.
Diaper regulations varies hugely from country to country. Be sure you know where to deposit dirty diapers in the country you visit.
Next week we will take a look at Part 3 in our series 5 Keys To Maintaining Sanity While Traveling With Kids by focusing on the “final” phase of your trip.
Deren S. Monday is co-founder of HomeExchangeUniversity.com and father of two. He is also a remodeling coach teaching others how to make their homes exchange-worthy. Deren can be reached at dsm_at_homeexchangeuniversity_dot_com.