Travel is all about possibility and exposure and trying new things – right? Well, yes. Mostly. Sampling foreign dishes, taking on adventurous feats, and exploring unseen (to you and your family) territory is all part of the joy of travel. Did you read my story of overcoming my fear of snorkeling (I dread the whole face-in-water thing)? Yes, travel can be about overcoming fears and obstacles, too. However, there are a few times the “go for it” mentality should be waned and that’s when traveling with children. Here are 4 things not to let your kids try on vacation – for the first time.
1. Peanuts (or other forms of nuts or other highly allergic foods like shellfish). Many years ago I was working a flight when a mother and grandmother asked me if I knew what could be wrong with their child. The toddler boy was covered head to toe in huge hives and they were getting worse by the minute. I went down a list of possibilities and, sure enough, the parents had given him peanuts for the first time inflight and he was having a reaction. Luckily, his breathing was okay. The lesson: never give your child peanuts for the first time while flying.
2. Potty training. Speaking from experience, my daughter decided to potty train herself at age two. All was going well until we hit the road for our annual Thanksgiving trip to Palm Springs. That was when she decided that Pullups were much more convenient than this whole grown-up way of doing it. And so she, the originally willing participant, regressed. If you have potty training plans and know that you will be traveling in coming weeks, simply hold off until post-trip when you can dedicate a schedule and routine. As for night time, if your child has a history of wetting the bed or is transitioning to “big kid” underwear, opt for the night time protection to avoid having to call hotel housekeeping in the middle of night and dealing with a damp mattress.
3. Swimming on their own – ever. Tragically, there have been a few cruise ship drownings/deaths in recent months, some with parents only yards away. As of right now, most cruise ships and hotel pools and some beaches do not have lifeguards on duty. Parents, even if your children are strong swimmers in your backyard or the local YMCA, please don’t let them swim alone while on vacations. Big, deep, crowded, and unfamiliar pools or the unpredictable ocean can contribute to such tragedies. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you get a vacation from parenting and never assume someone else is watching your little lovelies.
4. Skiing, snowboarding, surfing, etc. without lessons. If you’re going to make the effort of having an active getaway with the family, then forget being cheap and simply dish out the extra bucks so your kids can learn how to enjoy the sport via proper training. Professional instruction will not only enhance their fun, but they will learn safety measures of the sport, and your kids will in turn become better skiers, snowboarders, or surfers, which means future trips will be more enjoyable for the entire family.
Of course, at some point the kids will out-grow these limitations but as as long as they’re young, keep them safe and comfortable while traveling.