From antsy toddlers who don’t want to sit still on a plane to dealing with popped tires on a long road trip, consider this your cheatsheet of pro tips on how to make the most out of family misadventures.
Teach Your Kids a New Sport
Expert: Jonny Moseley, Olympic gold-medalist skier, TV host, and father of two
“My wife and I have different ideas about what vacations are all about. Her idea of a good time is to sit on the beach and read. When I go on vacation, I want to do things, and my boys, Jack and Tommy, ages 11 and eight, are the same. I’ve finally figured out that it’s best to hire a local guide. They can handle some of the logistics, and everyone surfs and fishes better when we have someone leading us. Your kids will also listen to a guide more than they’ll listen to you, which is key if you want them to learn a new skill, like how to catch a wave. But don’t get the guide from the hotel concierge. Make friends with other hotel employees—they usually grew up nearby and have a cousin who surfs or fishes who can show you the real spots. Or use Instagram and reach out to pros who live in the area. You’d be surprised how many of them will respond with good info. I always try to answer people who direct-message me asking for advice.” —As told to Graham Averill
Road Trip Like a Boss
Expert: Ingrid Backstrom, pioneering freeskier and mother of two
“My husband and I took our minivan to 23 ski resorts around western North America when our daughter, Betty, was just eight months old. My parents followed in their own car. There were definitely logistical challenges, stressful times, and nights we barely slept, but we were skiing powder and with our family. Minimizing time on the road with the kid was the number-one goal. The roof box on the van was packed. We brought one pair of skis each and not much in the way of clothes—we lived in long underwear. The rest was stuff to keep the baby fed, clothed, warm, sleeping, and amused. We couldn’t have done without the $20 plastic sled we bought from a gas station. We used it for entertainment, and it was much smaller and way better on the snow than a stroller. We also found ski towns with great activities for kids. For example, Washington’s Mount Baker has cats that live in the lodge, and in Colorado, Crested Butte has a children’s museum and there’s a petting zoo near Aspen Highlands.”—As told to Megan Michelson
Survive Long Flights with Kids
Expert: Cam Zink, professional freeride mountain biker and father of two
“I have an 18-month-old and a five-year-old. The oldest has been all over the world with me, including Hawaii and Australia. The key to a successful flight with your kids is to make it fun. We introduce a new small toy every so often. Same thing with snacks. We get them things to eat on planes that they’ve never had before—chips, candy, whatever. It’s all about the novelty of these little surprises that keeps flying fun. One of the coolest and most practical travel accessories we’ve found is the JetKids BedBox roller bag. It holds all their stuff, and you can pull them through the airport on it like a wagon. Once you’re airborne, it turns any economy airplane seat into a child-size, lay-flat, first-class bed. It’s a lifesaver.” —As told to G.A.
Make the Most of Misadventures
Expert: Emily Jackson-Troutman, world-champion kayaker and mother of two
“We’re working on the road about eight months a year, traveling in our truck and a 32-foot trailer. The kids, ages five and two, love it because we try to keep it spontaneous and typically don’t know what we’re doing each day until we wake up. The concept of not having a plan can be intimidating, but the most memorable moments tend to be inconvenient and unscheduled. In 2018, I drove across the country three times with just the kids and our two dogs, and on the last drive back home we popped a tire three times. Blowing a tire on the interstate is a scary thing, and being sidelined for a couple of hours can be frustrating. But kids feed off your energy and when you’re stressed, they’re stressed. So each time it happened, we’d leave thetrailer at a gas station to get fixed and go explore. We’d find trampoline parks, movie theaters, and playgrounds—anything to burn some energy while we waited. You’ll remember spontaneous moments like these for much longer than the pretty pictures you took at the resort.” —As told to G.A.