Epic family travel passport fail

Evidence. (From Tomonews.us.)

Evidence. (From Tomonews.us.)

If you really think about it, our passports are just begging to be scribbled on. The compact size! Those horrible photos! Heck, here in the United States, the watermark could even qualify as sparkly and colorful.

In this family, considering how frequently our kids see our passports, I’ve often marveled at the fact that the identification documents have escaped kid-graffiti for so long.

Unfortunately, a Chinese man recently vacationing with his family in South Korea wasn’t as lucky.

The news hit the wires this week—the guy’s toddler scribbled all over his passport and officials in South Korea wouldn’t let the dude back into his home country without some serious questioning. From what I can clean online, it sounds like the situation ultimately was resolved. For a while, however, it looked as if one kid’s Pablo Picasso moment was going to cost dad a return trip with the clan.

When I read the story, I had to laugh. No, neither L nor R has defaced a passport. But the girls have mistaken some of my steno pads for coloring books.

There was that time I was on assignment in Hawaii, opened up my pad to scribble some notes, and found a pad full of marker scribbles—so many of them that I couldn’t find a clean piece of paper on which to write.

Then there was that day back here in California, when I came out of a very brief trip to the bathroom to find the kids actively painting on the only copy of critical collateral for a major ad campaign.

Thankfully, in both cases, I was able to recover.

Those incidents, coupled with this week’s incident in South Korea, serve as good reminders that these little geniuses of ours have minds of their own. In their worlds, little square books with lots of empty pages are meant for artwork. And if Daddy needs a goatee and simply won’t grow one on his own, it’s just easier to draw one in.

Where is the wackiest place your kids have scribbled while on a family trip?

Channeling family travel excitement

The book. By Mommy.

The book. By Mommy.

Ours is a house of artists. I use words to express myself; Powerwoman and our daughters use images. My wife and older daughter in particular turn to drawings and sketches when they wish to express deep and personal thoughts. This means pre-trip excitement often sparks a ton of art time.

Usually L is the queen of this handiwork, cranking out single sheets and books about the things she thinks we’ll experience on the road. (To R’s credit, she’s still working on the whole hold-a-marker-the-right-way trick.)

This week, however, my wife has run point.

The fruits of her labor: A book about our August trip to Walt Disney World. Because we’ve never been there as a family (we’ve only taken the girls to Disneyland), the girls have been pestering us about what it’s like and what they’ll see. Yes, we answer them when they ask. But to sweeten the storyline, Powerwoman started a book (quite literally) to illustrate our replies.

The first page of the book presents a map of Fantasyland, complete with images of the carousel and the iconic Cinderella Castle. A rough strategy for subsequent pages include a rendering of Arandelle (our girls, like all girls, are obsessed with Frozen), Epcot Theme Park, and more.

As of today, the expectations were for Powerwoman to create one new page a week. You better believe the girls intend to hold her to this schedule. The penalty: Incessant nagging.

In all seriousness, the book has been a huge hit. It’s also been a great inspiration—as if L and R weren’t excited already, the book (and discussion about it) has jump-started their interest in a big way. By the time August rolls around, the girls likely will be bursting at the seams for the conclusion of their pre-trip primer. I’m also looking forward to using it as a distraction tool on the six-hour plane ride to Orlando.

This whole process has taught us a valuable lesson: It’s never too early to get your children excited about upcoming family trips. Anything that sparks their imagination, anything that triggers and encourages excitement about travel, is worthwhile. Especially if it involves creativity, too.

How do you get your children excited for upcoming family trips?

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