I was holding back tears in the airport restroom so, yeah, I suppose I looked as if I needed a friend.
The lady at the sink next to me smiled. “That’s liquid gold,” she said, nodding to the still-warm bottles of milk I had just pumped. “Don’t lose it!”
I tried to smile back as I tipped the bottles and watched the milk swirl down the drain. She looked aghast—and I felt like I was going to throw up. It was the first time I had to pump and dump in my almost three years of breastfeeding my two kids, and it felt awful.
I hadn’t been drinking in the airport (though on second thought, maybe I should have been.) I explained to the woman next to me that I’m traveling for work, and I decided not to save the milk I pump.
The last time I flew with the girls, I was by myself. So I schlepped two kids, a couple of carry-ons, Peeper’s lovey and a whole bunch of anxiety onto a plane. I was, understandably, worried about flying with kids solo.
How do you keep your kids busy on the plane—especially when you only have two hands? I wondered.
With luck, and the kindness of a few understanding strangers, we survived that flight. I learned a few lessons, though, that I want to share here: tips on building travel activity kits we’ll be using when we’re doing road trips and flying with kids over the holidays. With Thanksgiving, Christmas and the busiest travel days of the year staring us down, we could all use some ideas to travel as a family.
Looking for ways to keep your kids busy on the plane, too? Want to limit their screen time? Want to survive the flight without the rest of the passengers threatening to throw your family out an air lock?
Learn from my experience—and be prepared. You’ll stress less at 30,000 feet in the air when your kids are happy with these travel activity kits!
Think back to high school or college and you will probably not have fond memories of flashcards. I know I don’t. I break out in a sweat when I remember quizzing myself on the date of the transcontinental railroad for my AP US History test and, later, on the mating habits of bonobos. (That last one was for Evolution of Human Sexuality, an unforgettable anthropology class in college, in which my professor stood on a chair at the head of a 300-person lecture hall and pretend-birthed a baby doll. Awesome!)
But unless you’re prepping your kid to get into that genius pre-K program (please tell me you’re not), your preschooler hasn’t formed an anxious association with flashcards just yet. So it’s time to get in on some flashcards fun!
In the late spring, my younger sister had a beautiful baby girl. I tried to be all level-headed about giving her new family space, not crowding her with visitors, etc etc etc but on the inside I was all, OMG LET ME AT THAT BABY!
We planned a road trip to Spokane to visit just as soon as we could. I booked an AirBnB and sent an exclamation-point heavy series of texts to my sister. Then—I realized I’d have to drive nearly six hours from Portland to Spokane. With two kids.
All my googling found, well, not a whole lot between here and there. But if you happen to make that road trip, here’s what to do between Portland and Spokane, especially if you have kids.
Imagine yourself floating in a sea of wild grasses and millions of wildflowers and you’ll get a pretty good sense of hiking at Camassia Natural Area in West Linn, just outside Portland.
The easy loop is perfect for families and little hikers. There is plenty to see—bridges! giant rocks! flowers galore!—as well as a self-guided information pamphlet pointing out uncommon plants and other trivia.
The best time to visit is in the spring, when the purple-hued camas is in full bloom (hence the name of the preserve), but there’s always something beautiful for the whole family to see, no matter when you visit.
Tall trees. A clear river. Gentle inclines. The Old Salmon River Trail has everything you’d want in a kid-friendly hike near Portland.
Just outside Welches on the slopes of Mt. Hood, the Old Salmon River Trail is perfect for families. On a recent trek on the trail, most of the fellow hikers we came across were parents and kids in hiking boots. Read more
What better way to celebrate Father’s Day than a family camping trip? That was my thought when I booked a campsite at Stub Stewart Park, an Oregon state park less than 45 minutes west of Portland.
As soon as I committed us, though, I had flashbacks to the last time we went camping. (I wrote about my sleepless nights in the tent for PDX Parents’ Happy Campers, a guide to family camping in the Northwest.)
This trip—made slightly more complicated by the addition of a second kid who, btw, wakes every few hours even in the controlled, sound-machined environment of home—didn’t disappoint in the Lack of Sleep Department. But the memories we made camping as a family of four at Stub Stewart more than made up for the dark circles under my eyes.
If you’re looking for kid-friendly camping spots near Portland, here’s the lowdown on family camping at Stub Stewart State Park. Read more