It has come to my attention that I have not portrayed you in your best light. I offer my most humble apologies, oh great bastion of money production, and offer this blog post as a sacrifice for my offenses.
Our recent trip to the BEP was marred with a certain amount of the insanity that goes hand in hand with traveling with four children. In hindsight, a bit of preplanning on my part could have helped to make our experience better. So, I offer you the 'wisdom' of my experience in hopes that your visit will be as good as gold.
1. This is a government building and they are extremely strict about what can be taken into the facility. No cameras, cell phones, food or drinks, gum, candy, large bags, or weapons. If you have children and you usually use any of these things for entertainment,(Hi! My name is Jessica and I bribe my children with candy for good behavior) then you need to make alternate plans.
2. This tour is best for kids 6 and up. Unless your preschoolers are unusually angelic or comatose, they will probably not enjoy the tour.
3. The museum is beautifully designed, and informative. The information is somewhat dry for kids, but Treasure Hunt cards are provided for every age group to make exploring the museum a game. Don't miss the super microscope where kids can examine bills up close and find the hidden details in our currency.
4. When you arrive, you will be given a sticker that assigns you to a tour. The tour begins on the second floor of the museum. An announcement will be made to alert you that your tour is ready to depart. Until that announcement, you are free to explore the two floors of the museum and shop in the gift shop.
5. Speaking of the gift shop, be prepared to shell out the cash. Souvenirs are expensive, but as the tour is free, this is how they make their money. There are plenty of kiddie souvenirs that are under five dollars. But, if you happen to be the mom who promised her kids that they could get a sheet of uncut money, be prepared to either break your promise or shell out $32+.
6. To avoid the lines at the gift shop, purchase your souvenirs before your tour. After each tour the gift shop fills up with people.
7. If possible, take the first tour of the day. Our tour group was very large, so there was a lot of waiting around for everyone to have their turn to see. The part of the tour that was presented by the tour guide was very interesting, but the waiting in between was dull and, in our case, led to mischief. Be prepared for this waiting time with some quick games or trivia questions.
8. Try to situate yourself in the middle of the group, so you have the best vantage point. If you happen to be hanging towards the back because you are traveling with a chatty two year old who throws things, you will not be able to see as the tour guide talks.
9. Bring along some money. A big part of the tour discusses the changes that have been implemented to counteract counterfeiting. It's great for kids to be able to hold a bill in their hand and find the features as the tour guide points them out. I actually got this part right, and each of my kids had a bill to search. Score one for mom!
10. Do some pre-trip activities. Visit the BEP website to download games, bookmarks, and interactive lessons that will help your kids understand the money making process.