Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Surviving Las Vegas with kids and Road trip tips

This Memorial weekend, I drove to Las Vegas with the kids by - my - self. I'm either insane or I really love my husband (or both). Oh, and did I mention the CD player and DVD player in the car were broken?
The hubby was in Vegas working. He called to let me know he was staying at a nice, family-friendly resort and he had a large room with kitchenette. So I braved the holiday traffic
and headed for the city of lights.

Before hitting the road, I made sure I packed plenty of kid distractions, snacks and drinks.

*Travel games (age appropriate)
*Coloring books/crayons
*Interactive toys
(my son loves his fisher-price piano toy & cause & effect toys & they sit well in his lap)
*A child's favorite (be it a toy, stuffed animal, doll, etc)
*A new toy (something new is great for travel and holds the child's interest longer)
*Snacks (crackers, pretzels, fruit snacks, apples, bananas, dried fruit, nuts, etc-I included gummy bears as a reward for good travel behavior)
*Drinks (fruit juice boxes, water bottles, prepared sippy cups of child's favorite drink)
*Cooler (if room allows for a regular or travel size-it's great for drinks and snacks-even a lunch if you'd rather picnic at a rest stop than eat fast food)
*Kid CD's (music sing-a-longs or books on tape)
*DVD's (if your car or portable DVD player are in working order)
*Portable potty (the kids' always need to go before or after the rest stops-a travel potty makes pulling over on the side of the road to pee easier and legal)
*Shades for the side &/or back windows (the sun can get hot and the shades make for a darker nap environment-here's hoping!)
*FOR REST STOPS-bubbles, a ball or Frisbee make great stretch-your-leg activities

I planned leaving at nap time. I knew the lulling movement of the car would get the kids to sleep quickly and keep them asleep for at least an hour and half. The toys occupied my kids intermittently and some new lip gloss kept my daughter happy. We didn't have a CD player to sing-a-long to so we sang ourselves. My daughter practiced her ABC's as my son tried to copy her with his toddler babble. I also worked with my daughter on several Spanish words.

About three to four hours into the trip, we needed a break and some food. We stopped at the Burger King in Baker, CA. Then, to stretch our legs, we checked out the World's Largest Thermometer in Baker. (The toys in the kid's meals kept the kids' attention for the next leg of the trip)

Since the hotel room included a kitchenette, I brought microwavable entrees and instant oatmeal. I could save a little on food expenses for the kids and my daughter just loves her oatmeal. I wish I'd brought coffee, because the stuff the hotel provided must have been dirt. I purchased milk and juice at a store near the hotel to keep in the small fridge provided in the room. My hubby mentioned the room was large enough for the kids to play. Along with the toys I packed, I brought the kids' tunnel toy. They enjoy crawling through it and hiding in it. Plus, it folds flat making for easy packing. Also, it's a great place to stick all the toys so the hotel room doesn't look so cluttered (like home).
Additionally, the hotel had several pools. I remembered bathing suits, but I forgot floaties and pool toys. I cursed myself for that oversight.

Now, Vegas is not the kid-friendliest town. Kids can be in the casinos, but only to pass through. If ever I stopped the double stroller for a minute on the casino floor maze to get my bearings-I'd get a tap on the shoulder to "keep moving." "Hey, I'm just trying to find an exit or a bathroom!" I obviously couldn't gamble. And come to find out, if you're with kids, it's difficult to order a drink even from a street vendor on Fremont Street. If you want a beer (which you do-you're traveling with kids) have someone else order it for you.

My son is 16-months and my daughter is almost 4-years-old. Both enjoyed the lights and sounds of the casinos. I suggest strolling through many of them.

Here's a list of some activities to do in Vegas with kids:
*Treasure Island has a great Pirate Show nightly
*Enjoy a Medieval times dinner at Excalibur and their Midway arcade

*See Sharks at Mandalay Bay (their beach also has a lazy river)

*At the Venetian take a gondola ride
*Circus Circus is old, but has a mini Circus through the day
*The massive water fountain show outside the Bellagio
*Caesar's Palace Forum Shops includes an FAO Schwartz toy store with candy shop & soda fountain-there is also an animatronic Poseidon water fountain laser light show
*The Flamingo houses large, tropical pools and wildlife habitat
*FREMONT STREET EXPERIENCE Old Las Vegas with live music, street vendors and huge canopy light and sound show
*Mall Of America offers many kid-friendly attractions

I had no luck with child care. Some hotels offer child care starting at age 2 or 3. You'll need to call ahead for details. Check out LAS VEGAS FOR KIDS for more info on child care and kid activities.

The drive back from Vegas was planned at nap time too. I borrowed the lap top from my husband to play a DVD. I knew the Memorial Day traffic was going to cost me an extra hour or two. The return drive took six hours and that last hour was wearing on my nerves. But, you have to be prepared to zone out and drive-through all the crying and screaming. No amount of planning, no favorite toy, no song, no game, no DVD is going to quell a child's urge to get-the-hell-out of that straight-jacket-of-a-car seat! They'd much rather be in their mom's arms or out running free...


Micah said...

LasVegasKids.net? How amazing is that!?!?

Kelley said...

I know! Who would have thought??
Thanks for the comment-it reminded me to check all my links and a few had errors which I've since corrected-thanks!

Cory said...

You are very brave. I hope you had a good time.

Kelley said...

I enjoyed the trip and the kids had a great time.

Emefa said...

your so organise...... I want to be as organise like you aswell when i grow up and have kids....
have a nice day..

Kelley said...

Thanks, again Emefa. You'll be amazed how quickly you learn to be organized once you have kids! Enjoy London it's a lovely city!