After almost 10 years of traveling around the country and to Europe with children, I have learned this: Less is more. All that stuff you hear about packing little toys for kids to unwrap on the airplane or stocking up on travel games to play in the car is, in my experience, pretty much useless. Such things will distract the kids for about 10 seconds and leave parents with more to clean up.
Still, the questions parents ask most often begin with "Should I bring ..." the stroller, the car seat, the portable crib. Here, based on this mom's experience, is a brief guide to good travel stuff.
THE ROUGH GUIDE TO TRAVEL WITH BABIES & YOUNG CHILDREN
Rough Guides / $15.99
Author Fawzia Rasheed de Francisco is an exuberant advocate of traveling with children. "The slower pace that children demand ensures you really get under the skin of the places you visit," she writes, "and having kids along makes a noticeable difference to how people interact with you." The adventure usually depends on how the children cope with travel, and this book's mission is to ensure that parents are prepared for the pitfalls. The book includes answers to pre-trip questions, from what to pack to what to wear. Getting to a destination with kids in tow is the next challenge. This guide amply makes the case that, with proper preparation, globe-trotting can have a transformative effect on the whole family.
Despite weak dollar, we're going
The economy is troubled; the dollar is weak -- but Americans aren't giving up international travel. Travel organization AAA and Global Insight, a forecasting company, predicted 25.1 million Americans will take leisure trips outside the U.S. this summer, up 2.6 percent from last year. "Those that choose to make these trips are reallocating their budgets," said Ken McGill, executive managing director of Global Insight. Vacationers will cut shopping and entertainment out of their travel budgets and will cut household expenses before they nix travel plans, McGill said.
Unspoiled view across Potomac
The view across the Potomac from George Washington's Mount Vernon estate will remain pristine, as it was more than 200 years ago, thanks in part to a purchase of 63 acres by the National Park Service. The purchase conserves the last major block of shoreline on the Maryland side of the river that can be seen from Mount Vernon, which sits in Virginia just a few miles south of the nation's capital. The land will be annexed to Piscataway Park, an existing national park that protects more than 5,000 acres along the shore.
Williamsburg market heads north
A Colonial Williamsburg, Va., store is one of five shops in the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center that recently opened in Prince George's County. The $865 million combined hotel and convention center bills itself as the largest on the East Coast. The Williamsburg Marketplace can be found in an 18-story climate-controlled atrium that is enclosed by a huge glass dome. The store will sell products and collectibles associated with Williamsburg, along with food and tavern items. At a computer in the store, visitors can also make reservations for a trip to Colonial Williamsburg.
10 FOR THE ROAD
Less-frequented national park trails
People's favorite least-frequented national park trails, according to Austin-Lehman Adventures:
1. Harding Ice Field Trail, Kenai Fjords, Alaska 2. Easy Pass Trail, North Cascades, Wash. 3. Mount Scott Trail, Crater Lake, Ore. 4. Death Canyon, Grand Teton, Wyo. 5. Wapiti Lake Trail to South Rim Trail, Yellowstone, Wyo., Idaho, Mont. 6. Kolob Canyon -- Taylor Creek Trail, Zion, Utah 7. Fairyland Loop Trail, Bryce Canyon, Utah 8. Bunsen Peak Trail, Yellowstone, Wyo., Idaho, Mont. 9. Pohono Trail (Taft Point), Yosemite, Calif. 10. South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon, Ariz.