How to survive a Cross Sound Ferry trip with the kids

Brian and Evan Huber at Franklin Park Zoo in Boston (Credit: Bill Huber)

Brian and Evan Huber at Franklin Park Zoo in Boston (Credit: Bill Huber)

For those of you who have been following the adventures of the Huber boys, you know most of them take place on the North Fork. This Memorial Day weekend, for a change of scenery, we packed up the kids and took them to Boston.

Any parent knows that travelling with small children can make vacations challenging. Here are a couple of things we learned, which might make some of your travels easier, no matter where you’re headed.

Consider your route

Brian and Evan had never been on the Cross Sound Ferry before and they were very excited. They had plenty to do and see on the hour-and-twenty-minute ride and fortunately, we had perfect weather. The drive to Boston from the ferry was only about 90 minutes and luckily, we didn’t hit any traffic. We opted not to take the ferry home and halfway through Connecticut, regretted the decision. The drive around took twice as long and the kids were twice as bored. Next time, we’ll consider taking the easier route and spend less time in the car.

Have a plan

To maximize our time, Bill and I figured out when each attraction opened and closed and how far away it was from our home base. The kids wanted to go the aquarium first, so we made sure we got there soon after it opened. It was crowded, but for a holiday weekend, it really wasn’t that bad. The entry lines were much longer by the time we left. By taking some extra time to plan, we were able to pack an aquarium, a museum, a tour, a park, a zoo and an observation deck visit into two days. By spending time planning online, we also were able to great kid-friendly eateries near all of our stops.

Check out deals

Many cities have coupons and passes you can buy to reduce admission costs. We used City Pass, and were able to see the New England Aquarium, the Boston Science Museum, the Museum of Fine Art and either the Harvard Museum of Natural History for about half the cost of regular admission prices. Plus, kids can get in free at many places. The boys were also able to ride the subway system for free, making transportation less expensive.

Bring snacks. Everywhere. No matter how old your kids are

I used to pack a variety of snacks in my diaper bag when I had a toddler and a preschooler. Forgetting that I still need to do that was a big mistake. Evan (much like his mom) gets very, very cranky when he’s hungry. I didn’t have snacks for him and during our aquarium visit, he became hungry, sat down on a bench and just cried. We both felt pretty terrible. Bottom line: You don’t need to have a grocery store in your bag, but make sure you have at least one snack everyone can agree on.

Stay aware

While we were away, I accidently set my cell phone down in front of the Museum of Science and didn’t realize until about an hour later. This resulted in calls to the phone company, a frantic search and overall panic. The phone was located, but the incident made for a very stressful hour. With kids tugging at bags and asking for 10 different things at once, it’s really hard to keep track of things. Next time, I’ll pack less in my bag and stay more aware of where my important items are.

Overall, the trip was a great success. A little bit of confusion, some tears and a few meltdowns happened for almost everyone. The boys had a great time, enjoyed the new experiences and only wanted to make one change for the next trip: bring the grandparents.

If you’re staying on the North Fork this weekend: here are some great family events to check out:

Riverhead Recreation Department’s “Kickoff to Summer” will take place Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. at Stotzky Park. There will be contests, demonstrations, a Jester Jim live performance and refreshments available for purchase.

Duck Pond Day in Wading River will be held Sunday from noon to 4 p.m at the duck ponds on North Country Road. The event, presented by Wading River Chamber of Commerce will have live music, vendors and a parade, beginning at 2 p.m.

Mattituck Presbyterian Church will be celebrating its 300th anniversary all weekend with special talks, tours, children’s events, services and presentations. Check the church’s website for a full schedule.

The annual Cutchogue Fire Department Victoria Glove scholarship breakfast will take place Sunday at the fire house. The meal is all-you-can eat, and includes eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes and more. Tickets are $8; children under 12 are $4. Proceeds will benefit local graduating seniors.

Laura Huber