While as parents we think there are hundreds of things we can’t forget when traveling with kids, our family trips have taught me that there is only one. One thing not even money can’t solve. Not when you are miles away and realize your kid’s favorite toy is missing.
When we were planning our first family vacation, I insisted on going by car, because that was the only way to pack half of our nursery and bring it along. I thought everything might be a necessity. Hey, what if her nails grew too fast and I was left with not scissors, or I couldn’t find her favorite brand of diapers in France or she suddenly wanted to learn how to read and all the books were in French.
Many trips later I again started believing that the only two things you should never forget are money and passports. And your kids’ favorite toys.
Here are my tips on that precious cargo:
- Pick wisely.
When putting a toy in your child’s crib remember your kid will never want to leave it again or at least for a very long time. Our stuffed dog has been with us on every trip we have ever taken as a family. What do you want to carry around? A green frog bigger than your child, or bear heavier than a two year old?
- You are stuck with it.
I don’t know for how long, because I still don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. There is no trip where we don’t bring along the mentioned dog and cloth dolls my youngest loves. I consider myself lucky I don’t have to start paying airline tickets for them or museum entrance fees, or getting them identification. They’d have more stamps in their passport than me.
- Never lose sight of it.
While it is your kid’s toy, it will be your fault if it gets lost. You are the one who will endure the consequences. There were times I considered putting a tracking device in them, because when we forgot it over at my mother’s, she had to drive before nightfall to bring it back to us. Once we left it in a hotel in Ottawa. And luckily it was me who realized it and there was still time to get it back. Tell you the truth, I think no matter where we were, we would’ve gone back to get it.
- Don’t bother putting it in a safe.
It is in vain to ask my daughter to take it out of her backpack only when she goes to sleep and not play with it on planes, boats and everywhere in between. I wish I could keep it under lock and key until bedtime, because she keeps leaving it wherever it strikes her fancy. Until she remembers. Then I have to get my magic eight ball and find it.
- No other toy will do.
Even with all my special care there were times when I couldn’t find the darn toy. It might be stuffed in drawers, backpacks, under the bed or on the floor… Then I learned the important lesson of money not being able to buy everything. Convincing my kids that another toy will do, only earned me a look of pure and utter disappointment. How cruel of me to even suggest it. Like anyone could replace my kids. No, any kid won’t do.
- Members of the family
It has gotten to point where I treat the toys like they are full members of our family. I go: “1,2,3,4,5 they are all accounted for, we can go“. I never repeated the same mistake again. Since Ottawa I triple check the toys are actually with us. And when I absolutely have to clean them, I do it with such carefulness you’d think I am washing a royal newborn.