Planning to drive for your holidays? An exciting destination, perhaps? With kids in tow? Then you know that this trip definitely needs some planning and preparation after you have made your hotel reservations and figured out your itinerary but before you open the car door and start loading your bags. Backed up my own previous experiences and mishaps, I came up with this list of tips that works for me along with others I got from others as well which helped a lot too:
Tip 1: Entertainment: Though I should not be saying this, if you have a DVD player, that helps! it is surprising how this otherwise-evil-at-home device reduces the number of ‘Are we there yet?’ questions from the back seat(s). And if you do not have it, do not fret. Any personal mobile device will help as well – an iPhone, iPad/iPod (Fruit Ninja, anyone) or other gaming device – but this will mean multiple devices if you have multiple kids all wanting to play games (and they will, at the same time).
The other option/additional item you can use is audio books and music the kids love. I always have a couple of their favorite music CDs in the car and have to yet try audio books – will try it out the next time we plan a long drive with Harry Potter.
Tip 2: One word – Snacks (actually two words – Accessible snacks)! Hunger strikes kids at the oddest moments – definitely not when we are at the dinner table reminding them to finish every minute of the whole hour they are at the table – but definitely when you are driving down the middle of nowhere stuck in traffic and the nearest snack is in the trunk of the car or maybe not even there. This also includes fluids – meaning water, juice boxes – but remember to not overdo this – remind the kids to have little sips (see #3 below)
Tip 3: Nature’s Call: Make room for restroom breaks and to let the kids stretch out a little, especially when the drive is longer than three hours. This is inevitable – the moment you have passed the closest place that has a restroom, your kid will want to use it – so make sure that the kids use the restroom (not just asking them whether they want to use it) at every stop and before you start.
Note: Best places to use restrooms – a restaurant or a motel near the exit rather than a gas station.
Tip 4: Classic car games are always fun and the best way to spend the time if everyone is well rested – games like trivia,memory game (we pick a theme and then each player adds on to what others have said before – eg: theme: animals , player one says tiger; player two – tiger, lion; and so on – you can make it tougher by making it alphabetical also), multiplication based game (pick two numbers and two words, the multiples of those numbers should be replaced by the words while players take turns counting from one – 1, 2, dog, cat, 5, dog, 7, cat, dog, 10, 11, dogcat, 13 – got it?)
Tip 4: Rest: Have a couple of pillows and sheets/blankets handy to make it comfortable for the kids and create a cozy space for them right in the back seat. The kids love this.
Tip 5: A fun bag: Let your kids pick a few items of fun for the trip and fill their ‘fun bag’ – it can be crayons, small toys, coloring books – as long as it is not too big and not too many – you can decide what works best for you. Books to read are OK too though I am not a big fan of reading while driving or on the bus/train to avoid car sickness.
Note: You can pack one bag as well with treats/surprises for them and keep it with you.Watch their faces light up when you whip up a surprise for them just at the right moment..
Tip 6: Cleanup: Do not forget tissues, wipes, and paper towels – you will need to clean up at least once. Trash bags too.
Tip 7: Prepare: Contact numbers of friends, the destinations (hotels, etc), charged cell phone, maps, directions (and alternate routes), updated GPS (if applicable), a first aid kid, a flashlight, sunscreen, emergency flares, change (quarters, dollar notes) are all helpful to have.
Tip 8: Time of travel: Plan to drive at minimal traffic hours (not rush hour) – though this is obvious, in the excitement of a trip and with other last minute delays, you might miss this. It is better to start a little early or a little late and drive in smooth traffic rather than be stuck in rush hour and deal with frazzled nerves (of everyone, including yourself)
Tip 9: Packing tips: If staying at multiple hotels and you have multiple bags, pack such that you need to open only minimum bags at each place. Take along plastic covers to use as laundry bags for the dirty clothes. Pack clothes in the order you will be using them so you do not need to turn the bag upside down for something you need. Pack clothes in complete sets – undergarments included – and roll them or fold them into one another – socks, undergarments and the shirt can all be folded and the pants folded over them. Some off-season clothing as well in case the weather changes. One set of clothes for the kids can be kept handy during the drive in case of accidents.
Tip 10: Enjoy! Have fun – you are going on a vacation, so sit back, smile, and drive!
Traveling is fun and if done well, then, of course, sweet success
Theme Thursday over at Theme-Thursday – the theme is ‘Sweet’
Alphabe Thursday offers up the letter ‘F’ this week
‘Food’ is the theme this time over at ‘Reading
Between the Pages’ who hosts this weekly meme. The rules are:
- A theme will be posted each week (on Thursday’s)
- Select a conversation/snippet/sentence from the current book you are reading
- Mention the author and the title of the book along with your post
- It is important that the theme is conveyed in the sentence (you don’t necessarily need to have the word)
And to enter all three memes in one sweep, I have the following:
“For the uninitiated, frozen custard is like ice cream,
only smoother and richer thanks to extra egg yolks being whipped in.
Take I-43 north to suburban Glendale and brake at exit 78 for Kopp’s
kitschy, retro building.”
Planet, Lonely (2011-06-22). 5 of the USA’s Best Trips (Kindle Locations 345-346). Lonely Planet Publications. Kindle Edition.
Image from Now@MPL where you can find the recipe for this delicious sweet frozen treat!