Tips for Traveling with Kids This Summer

05/30/2013 12:25 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

by Katherine Bernard, Vogue


By now, you've likely heard of author and screenwriter Kelly Oxford, whose rise to humorist fame was fueled by her razor-sharp (like, the-Met-ball-chandelier's-worth-of-razor-blades-sharp) Twitter feed, which has more than half a million followers. Many of her best tweets are inspired by her three children, who usually don't realize how funny they are ("I refuse to correct my 4 year old when she calls Nicki Minaj, 'Nicki Massage' "), but make a strong case for the notion that a sense of humor is an inherited trait ("Got angry at 4 year old for not getting ready for bed, and she said, 'This is why you don't have kids.' "). Judd Apatows of the world, take note: Oxford and her progeny may fast be becoming the funniest family online.

For all of these reasons, Vogue thought Oxford would be the perfect person to approach for advice on planning a summer vacation with children. After all, her second-funniest source of those golden tweets is arguably her time spent in airports. See: "I'm not concerned with babies on airplanes, but grown adults who don't fly often need their own terminal." And: "Just fell over trying to put my shoes on in security line at airport; in case you were wondering who's raising the next generation." We asked her for her best tips for surviving the journey from home to vacation, and, just like her book, Everything Is Perfect When You're a Liar (Harper Collins), Oxford's guidelines are at once candid and remarkably heartfelt.

Do remember: The plane is not the car.
"In the car, kids are yelling and going crazy. But my kids are good in restaurants and understand that that's a public place. When I explain that they have to treat the plane like a restaurant, they get it. But at the same time, as a parent you shouldn't take crap from other people on the plane. Unless you're in business class, where it might be inappropriate to bring three children, this is not a private plane. If they're extremely sensitive, they should know to bring noise-canceling headphones."

Don't let your kids tell you what they want to bring along.
"You can't leave it that open. Just like with dinner, I only present a couple of choices because without fail, kids will always request every single thing that you don't have. Don't let your kids bring any item that can easily be destroyed, because it will be, and they're going to blame you for it. No matter how many times you warn them, it will still be all your fault. Also keep in mind anything they bring along that isn't packed: You are going to have to carry it at some point, so make sure you want to be seen carrying it."

Do maintain a no-hands policy in public restrooms.
"From the time they were little, I taught my kids to keep their hands on their body when they're in a public restroom. They cross their hands on their chest and keep them there--I trained them well. I touch everything for them. Everything. They look like crazy people, but on some level I think they like it because I do all the work and they get to be lazy."

Don't leave your headphones at home.
"I've found my kids won't use the ones you can buy on planes. They don't fit them as well, and it's better to use ones that they're used to so that they don't get uncomfortable, take them out, and start harassing people. I bought some affordable Marc Jacobs ear buds--black for Henry and pink for the girls--that were comfortable and kid-friendly."

Do take the kids to the beach.
"Hands down, the beach is the best place to take your kids. If you're somewhere like the Bahamas where the water is shallow and the currents aren't unsafe, then all you need are some beach toys and they are totally set for the entire day. But make sure you bring tons of water. Not just for hydration, but because kids are constantly getting sand in their eyes. I always use at least two bottles on the beach just pouring it onto their faces."

Do savor family time.
"Go out with your kids even when you don't want to. Even when you're like, 'Oh my god, the kids are insane, we shouldn't go out,' those are the times when it's actually the best thing to do. Go to the museum, go somewhere you don't even want to go--you usually find by the end you're having a lot of fun."

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