New Year’s resolutions for parents who travel with children


In 2012, remember to make memories with your kids during your travels. (Julia Pelish/

Story by Family Travel Columnist Nicole Keck

As 2011 comes to a close, it is fun to feel all at once wistful about the past and hopeful for the future. The new year feels like a long red carpet, still rolled up at our feet, just waiting to be unfurled before us. Our thoughts naturally turn to making resolutions, setting goals and devising plans for our families. Those of us with wanderlust may be wondering, where should we travel and what adventures await? Which places on our must-see list should we pursue? How can we make 2012 a banner year in our photo and scrapbook collections?

Some families (we’ll call them “the planners”) have already decided on and arranged for the details of their next trip. Other families (“the anti-planners”) prefer a more laid-back approach, letting spontaneity and last-minute deals decide their travel fate. Whether you find yourself in one of these categories, or somewhere in between, one thing is for sure: every group of child-toting explorers has made some blunders. With that in mind, here are a few family travel tips that you might want to add to your 2012 New Year’s Resolutions. Perhaps you may relate to and adopt some of them, and surely you can tell us your own.

1. I resolve never to let having children curtail my sense of adventure. I will remember that although more planning and energy are required, travel is a superb gift to give children. It opens their world and their minds.

2. I resolve to get the suitcases out at least three or four days before departure and begin putting things in them so as to avoid the mayhem of last-minute packing. The stress of a one day laundry-doing, swimsuit-gathering, underwear-forgetting, “children, get out of my way or I’ll leave you at home” marathon is not the best way to begin a trip.

3. I resolve to not over pack … and I really mean it this time. I will bring the children a few extra shirts and pants in case of accidents, but I will not unnecessarily pack them a new pair of clean pajamas for every single night, bring half of the playroom toys, or pack 50 pounds worth of “just in case” items. As a parent, I will not bring myself a menagerie of clothing and shoes so as to have a large variety of options to choose from every day.

4. I resolve to learn how to be a smart, efficient packer. I love my spouse and I refuse to make him or her feel like a pack mule while on a “relaxing” vacation.

Read More Family Travel Tips from Nicole Keck: Be a S.M.A.R.T. parent


5. I resolve to never again nurse my baby while straddling the infant carrier in a moving vehicle. When tempted, I will pull over so as to avoid ever again being tossed about the car half-naked, while my husband takes the turns too fast. Further, I resolve not to foolishly continue such behaviour while assuming that the customs agent at the border will not ask that the van door be opened; it’s an assumption that has proved unreliable.

6. I resolve to enjoy our time together, not solely through a camera lens, but with my actual eyes. I will take enough photos to document our travels for our pleasure and posterity; however, I will not be fixated on capturing memories, but rather on making them. I will not utter the words, “Daddy can’t help you build a sand castle now, sweetie, he’s trying to get just 20 more shots of that sunset.”

7. Last, but not least, I resolve to severely limit my tech time while on vacation. I will set aside five or 10 minutes in the morning and evening to check voicemails and emails, answering only those that are absolutely and categorically essential. I will not check Facebook every hour to see what my friends back home are having for dinner, or what funny thing their cat did. I will not use Foursquare to “check in” at every place we stop with the hopes of making my friends jealous. And I will not “tweet” my every thought, believing my followers are vacationing vicariously through me, but I will be present in the moment and give my precious and deserving family my undivided attention.

Nicole is currently a homeschooling, stay at home mother of three young boys, (a.k.a. the three stooges, the little rascals – you get the picture.) Her passion for writing was sparked at a young age when an English teacher said, “It is a noble thing for one to have command over his or her own language and to use it for good.” Nicole studied at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan and before the children came along, she and her husband enjoyed active travel such as hiking, backpacking, canoeing and kayaking. The detailed journals and poetry she wrote during those adventures remain among her most treasured possessions. You can read more about Nicole at

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