I wanted to share some tips.
Ben and I have discovered that many museums, science centers, aquariums, etc. catering to children offer a discount or free admission toward the end of the day. For example, when we visited Huntsville, the Huntsville Space & Rocket Center is free one hour before closing. Now, we have noticed in the past that our two little gypsies are usually only good for an hour, or an hour and a half at most in these places, so this makes sense to us. We spent the day exploring outdoor parks, the hotel pool (active things), a nap (quiet time) and then around closing we headed to the museum. The other bonus was that the crowd had thinned to nearly empty. We had the museum to ourselves practically!
So, my tip is to call and ask for discounts or free admission near the end of the day. For little kids, this is about the perfect amount of time before melting down.
On the flip side, we’ve found the opposite to be true for places that don’t offer a cut in price for late entry. For instance, our very own Georgia Aquarium is not big on discounts, but we find that if we go early we can spend the morning there without a crowd and slip out in time for lunch, and right before the rush. If it isn’t apparent, we find avoiding crowds another big way to eliminate stress when traveling with children.
It’s just easier to keep track of them, the children can see the exhibits better and the volunteers have more time to really engage the kids and answer questions. Plus it’s not so scary for the little ones.
Once again, the key to traveling with children is to know your child. Know how much they can tolerate, know the signs of exhaustion before exhaustion sets in, know your limitations before exhaustion sets in, and know the general needs of your children. Know these things and travel by them.
Our most recent trip to the Washington D.C area (we wanted to see the White House but you guessed it – we didn’t want the crowds scheduled to descend on D.C. during the inauguration) was pretty inexpensive and crowd free.
We visited Williamsburg Virginia off season on the way to the District. The weather was rather cold for me, but tolerable.
Two tips from this trip:
1. Colonial Williamsburg is free if you don’t want to enter all the buildings and see demonstrations. We didn’t think a day full of lectures and demonstrations for our three and five year old would be very much fun for them, (know your child) so we chose not to purchase tickets and instead roamed the entire amusement park for FREE. We were still able to enter a few of the historic buildings and regardless, enjoyed the actors and reenactments on the streets. Oh, don’t expect the official website to tell you about this free thing, either. Check out this site if you need a second opinion, http://www.virginia-beach-family-fun.com/colonial-williamsburg.html.
2. The kids preferred the Jamestown Settlement to Williamsburg. It was much more interactive for them. They climbed aboard ships (replicas of the ones that brought the settlers), played inside of Native American huts, saw and heard musket demonstrations, and more. We did pay a small admission fee of $13.50 each. Children 6 and under are free.
3. When within the D.C. Metropolitan area, use their public transit system – Metro. It’s cheap and easy to navigate and not too, too crowded during weekday rush hour traffic.
BTW, when we did make it to the White House, Sweet Pea wanted to know why two little girls (the Obama children) needed such a big house.
Stay tuned for Traveling with Foster Kids…. what happens when you don’t know your kids?