No Tech Travel with Kids

by Katja Wulfers

We are a travelling family; not of the nomadic variety, although that has a definite appeal, and I’d never say never. There is something so exciting about packing our bags, hopping on a flight or in the car and taking off to parts unknown. It’s our favourite thing to do together. As much as the four of us are accustomed to travel there isn’t a trip we’ve been on that hasn’t caused butterflies in my stomach. Should you pay us a visit in the days leading up to a vacation you’ll find children buzzing with anticipation, adults grinning like Cheshire cats, and chaos. A lot of chaos.

As a foursome we’ve jetted to Hong Kong and mainland China, soaked up the vibe in the Caribbean, visited France many times, traipsed around the US, and explored Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia. Sometimes all it takes is a day trip someplace different from home and we feel we’ve been away. Travel is family time because our daily life is often hectic and ruled by school, work, and sports schedules.

In the interest of togetherness we instituted a new rule two years ago, no electronics on family trips. WHAT? You’ve got it baby! The kids do not bring their DS, iPod Touch, or anything remotely beeping and soul sucking on family vacations. * Why? Because we are cruel, heartless, old, and borderline abusive. Also we wanted some real family time. Time to talk, or not. Time to sing, much to our children’s absolute embarrassment (bonus), or just listen to music. Time to play games. Time where we could exclaim in wonder at a passing sight or just sit quietly and appreciate the trip.

Beautiful isn’t it. Makes me tear up just thinking about it. Also makes me want to break out into Kumbaya or possibly If You’re Happy and You Know It. Before you gape in wonder at our reckless disregard for all that is good and holy, like parental sanity, it hasn’t been easy. The reality is, there’s been arguing. Also pinching, stick swinging, cheating at games, yelling – that was me, objects flying out the windows of moving vehicles, and tantrums – again, that may have been me. We are persisting because in between all the madness there are glimmers of peace and fun.

While driving through British Columbia last summer the kids played countless card games. Their future as card sharks is assured, which will be a huge benefit for paying university tuition fees. While using his Flip camera our son became Mr. Filmmaker. Some of the captured moments, like me yelling at them, should probably be erased, but others are quite funny. Nuh-uh…me yelling is not funny. He discovered a new interest which he may otherwise not have done if the iPod Touch hadn’t been M.I.A. Well, not so much M.I.A. as M.H.H.I. ** Our daughter wrote and drew in her notebook for hours. She probably completed an entire novel in a 17-day span. That’s quite an achievement for a 7 year old, and all because the DS stayed home.

Next stop – France this July. If my husband and I make it out alive, and reasonably sane, consider this experiment a viable alternative to all of the shooting sounds, repetitive music, and beeping you routinely hear from the back seat. If you don’t hear from us, send help. Or wine.

* We do bring a laptop to upload photos to and so that the kids can watch movies in the evenings. We’re not that old and cruel. We also bring our phones. We may be crazy, but we’re not certifiable.

** M.H.H.I. is the well-known acronym for Mom Has Had It.

Pleasantville Note: When I asked Kat to submit a bio to me for her guest post, she balked. I don’t blame her. I hate writing those things too. I do however LOVE writing them for other people. So when I suggested I could make hers up for her, she said, ok. So here you go:

Kat is a mom first, but is also trained in the Jedi arts. When not fighting Stormtroopers, she can be found at the bottom of a vodka bottle.

Honestly, I don’t even know where Kat came from. All I know is that one day I started talking to this hilarious person on Twitter and I never, ever wanted her to go away. Kat is funny, in a dry, twisted, sarcastic way and for that I adore her. She is also a terrific blogger. When she said she’d visit Pleasantville, I was thrilled. Welcome to my home Kat, let me pour you a sangria. I plan to get you drunk, so you’ll come back and visit again. Follow Kat @jackstrawlane and check out her blog Jack Straw Lane.

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  1. says

    Love this post… card sharks in the making. Excellent. I also enjoyed this exceptional bio. If I EVER get my guest post in to you Candace (I will, I will!) I need you to write my bio too.

    • Candace says

      tick tock tick tock, tapping foot……Maybe I’ll just write a blog and sign your name to it. That could be dangerous 😉

    • Candace says

      You know you’re welcome here anytime Mocha. For a girl on my laminated list, I think I could come up with a pretty good bio. 🙂

  2. SL says

    Excellent guest post! 

    It is so wise to *sometimes* put technology in its place! Tech toys are just like all toys. If the toy does more the kid does less, but if the toy does less the kid does so much more!

    Good luck with the Jedi Mastery. That’s a doozie! 😀

      • says

        Hi! It’s me again.. I’m commenting from the future! Neat, eh?

        Just wanted to say, this all still stands and that the Jedi thing is *totally* working out for you!


        *Note, too, that *your* comment was left on May 4th. *knowing grin*

  3. Pam @writewrds says

    Way to go Kat! And veeery brave. I’d like to do that with my guys too. For three of us, it’s no prob. The other one? I’ll have to take a blow-torch to him because his iphone is welded to his hand. 

    P.S. Pweeze take me with you to France? ; ) 

  4. AlwaysARedhead says

    It is the only way to vacation and is one of the reasons when we go camping, we go into the backcountry of Algonquin Provincial Park, no cell reception!

  5. says

    What an awesome idea.  I wish I were that brave though.  I am contimplating taking the boys on a trip by myself and I don’t think I could do it without the DS (for the oldest only) or DVD player.  Sad huh?

    And love the bio!  Very clever and funny!

    • Candace says

      No judging here 😉 Your, you’re, there, their, contemplate, contimplate, whatever 🙂 It’s all good.

  6. Sue says

    Really enjoyed this guest post. I have to say that you are braver than I am. I only have 1 daughter but I don’t dare leave the DS and portable DVD player at home. We do actually bring some board games too though. I also learned, on a trip home from Whistler earlier this year, that continuous DS playing in a moving vehicle is a BAD idea, BAD… New rule is 1 hour max, then she has to take a break.

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