Few things can compare to the memories made on family trips. They are moments that will live in your mind for a lifetime. Getting to that destination can often be its own separate beast. While as an adult you can be content with a long car ride because you know something amazing awaits you, it doesn’t quite work that way for most kids. Preparation is key to ensuring your family makes it through your travels without tears, frustrations and hurt feelings.
As a parent, you should know that just about the time you feel like you are making some headway on your journey, someone in the backseat is going to announce “I need to go pee!”. If your luck is anything like mine, you will have just passed the last exit for what feels like an eternity of miles. Now you are scrambling trying to figure out what to do. No one wants to pull off to the side of the road, especially if you are on the interstate. This is why picking out some stops before you hit the road is so essential. Because I live in Florida, a great stop for my family is the Florida Welcome Center. They even give out free orange and grapefruit juice! The stops are great because everyone can have the chance to use the restroom, stretch their legs and get a breath of much needed fresh air. Check out this list of all of the rest stops and welcome centers in the US.
Remember when we were kids and Bart Simpson made the line “Are we there yet?” famous? Until I had kids, I always thought that constant line of questioning was exaggerated. Wrong. Just plain wrong. My tribe has a slightly different spin of the classic. I can’t tell you how many times I will inevitably hear “How many minutes until we are there?” while in route. The cure to this is entertainment. It can come in many forms. You can play a DVD if you have such a device in your vehicle. You can also encourage them to read or play games. Make sure those devices are fully charged before you leave the house and you have plenty of chargers handy. Now, I am not saying keep your babes glued to a screen, However, it is only natural that kids will be bored on long car rides and we should do our best to help them through it. When my parents and I traveled across the country from California to our new home in Florida, I played COUNTLESS games of travel bingo. Distractions help.
I don’t know about you, but I have to travel on a budget. This plan doesn’t usually include stops for fast food and gas station snacks. We have two cooler bags that we will with ice packs, snacks and beverages. On a typical trip I will pack sandwiches, chips, fruit snacks and even a few popsicles (the kind in the plastic tube, just in case they don’t get eaten. I don’t want a mess!). I make sure the bags are stored in a location that is accessible to them without having to unbuckle. This way I am not distracted while driving and the kiddos are full and satisfied.
The main thing to remember in your family travels is to stay calm and take it easy. We were all kids once and it was just as difficult for us on long trips. There is no need to be angry or in tears by the time you make it to your destination. Understanding and preparation really will go a long way to save your sanity.