Road Trip Tips: Prepping for a long haul with kids in the car
Summer Travel – Road Trip
My house is a mess. I say this, and to those of you that know me you know that my house being a mess is out of character. Why is my house a mess, well, we are getting ready to hit the road for our annual summer road trip up the coast in search of cooler weather and lots of fun. I am in the process of packing, prepping and planning for about 4 weeks of travel in a car with KIDS. I know, I am a little nuts, but again to those of you that know me you already know that too.
Why am I sharing all this? Well, I have found that just like with painting a room in your home, a LOT of preparation makes the actual task go much faster and with far less stress. That prep work coupled with the right tools (some yummy snacks, a few movies, coloring books, games, etc) and we will be able to answer that age old question “Are we there yet?” with a resounding yes much sooner than our little ones ever expected.
Step 1: Make a plan.
Get out a notebook and write it all down. Not your travel directions, or where you plan to stop, or even your hotel reservations or last oil change (though that part is important too), but your kid plan. How on earth are you going to keep the kiddos happy, or at least quiet, for hours and hours of travel. What are their interests, what movies do they love, what lovie can’t they live without.
Step 2: Make each kid a bin
A few years back we created lap top size plastic bins for each kid. I have to credit Roseddy with this one, and as the Mom among us with the most experience I whole heartidly went along with her suggestion. The bins do double duty as a laptop desk and a neat and stackable way to keep all those crafting and learning materials contained in the car.
The girls got to decorate them with sitckers, glitter glue and whatever else made them happy (ie rhinestones) prior to the trip. Then I stepped in and went to the task of filling them with age appropriate craft materials, colored pencils, silly puddy, travel games, etc. I closed them up and put them aside until departure day. The girls giddily opened their bins on our first day on the road and it was like Christmas. They each grabbed their bin and went to town. I grabbed my coffee and happily enjoyed the quiet open road.
Step 3: Get a DVD player for your car
In between practicing our letters and coloring Ariel purple, we play fun car games, sing and of course like almost every modern family we watch movies. Lots of movies. We do, however, try our best to limit the “TV in the car” priveledge to long car trips. Because of this “rule” my daughter can often be heard asking the length of any car trip, even the short jaunt down the street to the grocery. She is a smart one, fortunately I am still somewhat in charge.
No matter your stance on in-car entertainment, if you are getting ready to do what I am getting ready to do it is a must. Look at it this way, it’s a road trip, so movies, crazy games, forbidden snacks and yes even sticky sweets are all fair game. It is Summer vacation after all, and they and you are suppose to be enjoying it.
Step 3: RELAX
This is easier said than done, but I encourage you to relax and enjoy the journey as well as the destination. Some of our most Hysterical moments came as we were on the road.
For example last year we were happily driving along enjoying the cows on our right and the beautiful rolling Pennsylvania hills on our left when we ever so slightly veered to the side of the road. The tires made that funny bumping noise that they do, as a warning that we were heading off the intended driving lane. My two little angles burst out laughing, crying laughing, covering their mouths laughing. Mom and I couldn’t figure it out. What was so funny? There wasn’t a movie playing. Opa wasn’t tickling them, so what was so funny? We wanted in on the joke. So we asked, “What’s so funny ladies?”. In between the sorts of laughter and squeals of delight out came a “THE ROAD FARTED!!” from both of them. Now we were in on the joke and fighting back our own tears of laughter. For the rest of our time on the road, we would occasionally, and not always by accident, veer into those side of the road bumps just so we could all enjoy a laugh.
I can’t wait for the road to “fart” this year. Happy Summer.