Road trips! Many of us take our long trips while school is out for the summer break. However, many of us with younger families or who homeschool take advantage of the quiet after school is back in session. If you are like me you have planned a road trip to go home to visit family. Now, while driving 1800 miles is no small feat, I can give you some helpful tips for your next excursion.
Step One: Selection
Start with choosing a location that the whole family can be excited about. Involve everyone in selecting where to go and what to do. That excitement will get you through the hours of travel and anticipation. For us, we have traveled back to Montana. Of course seeing Grandma and Papa will be the highlights, but riding the new carousel will be a good time. Talking endlessly about which horse will be fun to ride is good for whiling away a few hours on the long drive. Other top picks were stopping at the Museum to see dinosaurs, and to go rock picking with Papa. Can you tell what kind of phase is going on in our house right now?
Step Two: Prepare
Prep the kids so they have an idea of what the trip will involve. Talk about how long it will take. Then keep talking about it. Explaining to the kids that if we started driving yesterday at breakfast and get there after dinner helps give them a concept. It’s a good tactic for ages 3 and up, depending on the kids. Ones like my little guy won’t understand the time and older ones can read a clock.
While you prepare make sure to think in terms of clothes and items that will be needed. When we arrived in Butte it was just over 32 degrees! I did pack light jackets but didn’t pack winter clothing, should have known better. Helpful items for tiny ones I have found are favorite blankets and stuffed animals. Let babies sleep in the traveling crib a couple of nights before the trip so it isn’t too different. Older kids love having movies downloaded. Try the Amazon Prime app, trust me on this. When your kids get to a point where they can read, give them a map. Teach them how to read it and figure out where they are. Help them calculate miles, drive time, and even the mpg the car is getting.
On your road trip all the kids will agree that coloring is a good time. When you are selecting coloring options, pick ones advertised as no mess. There are markers and water coloring options that are great. If you have to bring crayons I recommend the big Rose Art ones. They got left in the fold up desk in our stow-and-go for the past year, completely perfect shape despite the Texas heat. You wouldn’t believe how shocked I was.
While you pack the car, let the kids help. My 3 year old loaded the car with me while little brother napped. She was hauling things out faster than I could get them tucked in where they belonged. Let them get everything set up so they can reach what they need to. Remember, it may cost you an extra 30 mins in getting ready, but if they set things up for their own seat they won’t be asking you where things are along the long road trip. It will be worth it. Also, figure out how to adjust the balance on your radio before. Set it to the back seats and pop in a lullaby cd when the kids start getting cranky.
Don’t forget to snap some pictures of the house before you leave too. Document what is where. While on your road trip these pictures will provide lasting peace of mind. If you are one of those folks who worry about turning the oven off take a pic to reassure yourself. Take pictures of valuable items in case something happens while you are gone.
On the Road:
During the road trip make sure you get out and stretch often. No one is safe from getting blood clots and other illnesses while traveling. Leaving in the evening and driving at night is nice if you like a little less traffic. Don’t do it with the idea that kids will sleep the whole time, you will be disappointed. Take it from someone who tried this. Play fun games to keep the driver alert while on the road trip. We had couple conversation starters for this trip. Often we play “I helped my grandmother pack her suitcase” and add things all the way down to Z. It’s a great memory exercise. Younger kids love “I Spy”, and there are always the classic bingo cards to spot things. One my mom started for my oldest was to count cars that we passed that where a certain color. Everyone can pick their own color and see who gets more!
When you arrive safely at your destination enjoy yourselves. Take comfort knowing there will be more fun to be had on the return road trip. Safe travels!