Top Chef Junior host Vanessa Lachey recently teamed up with Holiday Inn for Milk and Cookie Happy Hour, inspired by her own family travel experiences. She and her husband Nick view travel as an opportunity to allow special treats outside their everyday norm. A TV in the bedroom? Yes! Staying up late whispering? Sure! With the Holiday Inn Milk and Cookie Happy Hour that launched over the summer, they encourage taking some time in the afternoons to unlock new family memories, enjoy a treat and meet other families. “When we sit down and just take an hour out of the day – the memories, the moments, the conversations – it’s priceless,” says Lachey. Below, she shares what works for her and her three kids when it comes to family travel.
“The first thing we do is we always communicate with the kids and we always tell them what we're doing,” explains Lachey. “For example, we tell them, ‘We’re getting on an airplane and flying to Cincinnati, Ohio.’ We explain what we're doing and why we’re going.” This helps set expectations and understanding so that they can be prepared.
Lachey doesn’t pack for her older children, but rather with them. “I have a little suitcase for each of them, and I ask them specifically what they want in it. We pack it together, so they know what to expect,” she says. “My daughter will tell me she wants Woody and Bullseye and this pink blanket and this blue blanket and this purple monkey and this little elephant. Perfect! These are the things they want, they see it, zip it up, close it up. My kids know that this is for them on the plane and they are content. For my kids, it’s important for them to have comfort things that they’ve chosen themselves.”
Travel can be tough on kids, even when they know ahead of time what to expect. “Whenever we go somewhere, I always try to keep a couple of surprises and pull them out when needed.” These surprises don’t have to be grand, but we all need a crutch sometimes. “If that’s something they can do, touch and feel (as opposed to throwing them an iPhone) I’m all for it.” For example, for her son who loves basketball, Lachey surprises him with an NBA coloring book for him to learn the team logos. For her daughter, they make their own jewelry with a kit. But sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures: “Don’t get me wrong though – I am guilty as charged of just giving them an iPhone or iPad when need be!”