We do a fair amount of traveling as a family. At the moment we are traveling abroad with all the children. So I thought this might be a good time to write some a blog post or two about keeping children close when traveling.
If you have ever had to bring your children with you through a busy airport such as Miami International Airport or London Heathrow you know how hectic and hair-raising it can be. Multiply that be 100 and you know the feeling of taking your children through some of the third-world airports missionary families encounter on a regular basis.
Now imagine being in line for the security checkpoint with all your kids, your carry-on items and travel gear. You definitely want to keep your children close, but sometimes when you use a traditional child leash or harness your child will realize they are being tied up or involuntarily restricted. Does it help to have them sit down in the middle of the causeway and start bawling their eyes out since this restriction makes them feel like they are being punished when they haven’t done anything wrong?
Keeping children close with Gripsterz child harness alternative during international travel
Gripsterz Stay Along, which is comprised of a walking rope and voluntary character handle, helps alleviate that stress. Children hold on to the handle because they like the monkey character, and they do not get upset since they are not being involuntarily restricted.
Gripsterz also gives children a feeling of security and ‘connectedness’. They don’t have to cling to Mom’s leg because they are in a strange new environment. Decreasing stress and anxiety for kids helps decrease stress for parents.
We have done a fair bit of driving, visiting different places in and around Panama City as well as around Coclé province, which is central Panama on the Pacific coast. There are a few areas where the roads are pretty curvy as you ascend or descend the central mountains just West of Panama City, and going up and down to El Valle de Anton.
Our van in square as seen from belltower of La iglesia Colonial de Santiago Apóstol, de Natá de Los Caballeros, Coclé province of Panama
We quickly learned a good use of all those plastic shopping bags you get from the grocery stores or department stores. They are useful to have in the car in case anyone gets motion sickness. We keep a couple pairs, tested for leaks, having have at least one ‘bag fail’ episode, for each child. Even those who don’t normally get car sick are not impervious to the ‘chain reaction’ when stuck in an enclosed area and one child starts getting sick.
The shopping bags are lightweight and fold down to small spaces. They can be stuck in the side pocket of a handbag, or just stuck next to a seat or in a handle or holder near the seat.
This little secret has saved us on numerous occasions.
Our family with 9 children on horseback in El Valle de Anton
As a family with 9 small children, we have had some great away-from-home adventures. We generally try to take our children with us whenever we travel, from adoption trips to Guatemala, trade shows and continuing education meetings on the West Coast, Canada and Central America, to just plain interesting and fun trips for extended periods. When we only had 5 little ones we took a 9-day trip around Arizona and New Mexico in an RV with 9 of us (including Robyn’s parents), when we had 6 children we took them all to Costa Rica for a week to study rain and cloud forests, volcanoes and Latin American cultures.
Now we are in Panama for three months where we are concentrating on learning swimming, Spanish language, and cultures of Indigenous and resident populations of Panama.
Our crew of 9 children jumping into the pool
We are having a great time, and also learning more about ourselves and our children, as well as traveling with children.
As time permits, and I am finding time in short supply, we will try to add more blog posts with some helpful things we’ve learned in order to guide others who may want to visit “Family Friendly Panama”.
Our family with 9 children on an Embera piragua, or dug-out canoe
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