I grew up in a family that loved traveling. Jumping in the car and driving across country is really no big deal to me. In fact, I think the trip is just as fun as the destination. However, anyone with small children knows that making a road trip successful takes some planning. That is unless you don’t mind quarreling children, a million “are we there yets”, and dozens of drive-through window stops. Here are a few road trip planning ideas that work for our family.
Night travel: My husband did not grow up in a family that did much long distance traveling. Our first few road trips together were difficult because we had different ideas about what a road trip should be. He wanted to make good time and I wanted to make good memories. After a handful of trips we were able to meet in the middle. If the drive is longer than about 4-5 hours, we do the beginning of the trip either late at night or very early in the morning. We put the kids in the car, either asleep or tired, and we dress them in their pajamas. This allows the children to sleep and hubby to make good time for a little while. When the kids awake we are well on our way. Here is my daughter in her pajamas after being on the road for over five hours, four of which she slept through.
Games and activities: Any good road trip must include games and activities. Some good old-fashioned road games are I Spy, Mad Libs and slug bug. Here are some road trip games (and a free printable!). We also have a travel version of the Lite Brite, View Finders with a lot of cartridges, and interesting flash cards. Here is my son checking out some dinosaurs on his View Finder. I also usually pack a lot of car-friendly art supplies like coloring books, crayons and clipboards. Busy kids are happy kids.
Sing a song – or two or three: We always sing on our long trips. Sometimes we sing solos (and no, we do not sound good). Other times we sing together or along with CDs. On our last trip we listened to Snazzy by Go Fish. It is a goofy CD but very fun for a family (and more importantly, not annoying to parents). I especially like The Mom Song while the children prefer Jammies. Dad always prefers to loudly perform Army cadences.
Food: Because I do not like to stop at dozens of convenience stores and drive thru windows, I always pack plenty of snacks and drinks. We usually eat our road trip meals in restaurants of varying caliber, however, I refuse to buy our snacks on the go. That is a real time killer and a big hit to the budget. I try to stick to healthier options but I do allow some sweets to sneak in – I pack everything from fruit to cookies.
No matter how prepared you are, if you do not bring along your sense of adventure and a good attitude, the trip will not be successful. We make quality family time a priority on our trips. As a low media family, we do not bring DVD players, video games, or laptops with us. We also make sure that we all pay attention to the beauty or uniqueness of the scenery around us. Here is my husband’s idea of beautiful scenery…me with no make-up, wearing a smile. He must be crazy.
Does your family enjoy road trips? Feel free to leave a comment. Share and let’s talk about it.