Tripping with Toddlers

Everyone has their own idea of how to get ready for a trip.  My usual packing method is to count the days I’ll be gone and take an outfit for each day, then add a couple extra in case of emergencies and a couple in case the weather changes (long pants in summer, shorts in spring or fall).  Oh, and one dress up ensemble, pajamas, maybe a swimsuit and my favorite bathrobe.  Then I need a bag for toiletries, make up, a curling iron, vitamins, and emergency supplies like aspirin, antacid, bandages, antiseptic, antibiotic cream….a raincoat, umbrella, extra shoes.  Followed by the laptop, a bag for books, my tablet & kindle, writing paper, pens, chargers for my tablet, kindle, and cell phone, a power strip to plug them all into because hotels seldom have enough outlets.  

My brother, Jim, (a veteran traveler of the bachelor persuasion) had been in the habit of, not so subtly, hinting that I pack too much stuff.  He has a new perspective lately though.  Many of our road trips the past couple of years have included small children. 

Traveling with toddlers takes packing to a whole new level.  Last weekend we took three of my great grandchildren to Ohio with us for a family reunion.  That includes two boys aged 2 and 2 1/2 and an almost one year old girl.  

So, two sizes of diapers….count on about half a dozen per child per day.   Three or four outfits each per day plus pajamas, bath soap, swim gear (floaties and swimsuits), sun block, hair brush, toys, story books, sippy cups, bottles, a port-a-crib, strollers. Snacks for the ride and an ice chest for fruit juice and milk.  Even without all the paraphernalia, the necessity for space to accommodate  three car seats means taking two cars.  

But seeing the world through the joyfully amazed eyes of little ones makes it all worth the trouble.

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Reasons for Traveling

I suppose there are as many reasons for traveling as there are places to go and people going there. We travel for work, for medical treatment, for relaxation, and to visit relatives. We travel across the state and across the country. In the past, Jim even traveled across the world. Perhaps someday our descendants will travel across the universe.

© 167/Alex Treadway/Ocean/Corbis
© 167/Alex Treadway/Ocean/Corbis

The fact is mankind has always traveled. It’s in our nature. We are a restless breed. Many of our ancestors traveled as a way of life. In today’s world traditional nomads are less prevalent.  Modern technology and the industrialization of the land has made it difficult for them to survive.  

However, there is a new breed of nomad.  They live in cities and work at normal jobs until they get bored or hear of opportunities in other locations.  Then they pack up and move.  They go searching for a better place with more opportunity, much like their ancestors who sailed across the ocean or drove a wagon across the prairie.   

According to the U.S. Census Bureau:   The average person will move 12 times during their life.  “At age 18, a person can expect to move another 9.1 times in their remaining lifetime, but by age 45, the expected number of moves is only 2.7.”

Most of these moves may only be from one side of town to another, but many of them are to other cities or states.  Most of us have relatives scattered across the map.  We have cousins in Australia, where our father’s brother moved after WWII, and sprinkled liberally across the country from his other brothers and sisters.  On our mother’s side we have cousins in Pennsylvania and North Dakota.  When I moved back to Kentucky to be closer to relatives (another reason for many moves) I left behind a daughter and two grandchildren in Charlotte, NC.  I have a grandson in the Air Force who is currently in Colorado Springs and another who is in the Missouri National Guard because he married his college sweetheart from St. Louis and moved there.  A third grandson is moving to Texas with his girlfriend and their daughter this week.  

© Corbis
© Corbis

The “Boomer” generation is redefining retirement.  Oh, there are still “snowbirds” who buy homes in Florida or Arizona and “go south for the winter” then return home in the spring.  But the travelers are becoming more common all the time.

As families become less centralized many retirees are becoming a new kind of nomad.  Some of them buy an RV and simply travel from place to place.  Others work at temporary jobs in return for accommodations  using their retirement checks for other things.   A minority just “couch surf” all over the world, like homeless college students. They all spend a few weeks or months in one location, then pull out and move on to the next as nomads have done since the beginning of time.

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