*The Great American Road Trip
Originally posted on Let’s Get Together**
On behalf of every car-driving, gas-guzzling, interstate-cruising, great-American-road-trip-loving person in these here United States of America, I just want to say thanks! Thanks for bringing us memories of drives to “the world’s largest can of Spinach” and hours of Pat Benatar mix tapes. Thanks for the sibling bonding that came from having to sit on “the hump” in the middle of our station wagon between my squabbling sisters every summer as we drove across the vast Nevada desert. Thank you for recent remembrances of driving with my own kids as we sang “Old McDonald” across the entire state of Kansas. Thanks for making the tradition possible.
Sincerely, A Road Trip Lover
As warm weather approaches, let’s all just take a minute to rejoice in the fact that we probably get to take a road trip this summer! If you are anything like me, you can’t wait to get behind the wheel of your mini-van and cross a state border or two. But the truth of the matter is that on this side of 22, road trips are a decidedly harrier tale than they used to be: especially if you have little ones. So, here are some tips on how to help your kids love road trips just as much as you do.
Make sure that you can reach them. If there is an extra seat in the car, it goes next to the baby. That way you can sit next to them if you need to. For the very little ones make sure to bring a bottle. If you are nursing, bring a breast pump so that you can feed them without having to take them out of their car seat. Bring along toys that are brightly colored and make noise. Check the car seat before you leave and make sure they are safe and comfortable.
Toddlers: One of the biggest concerns for toddler age children is potty training. If you know
you are taking a long trip soon, you may want to wait to start potty training until you get home. If you are already in the full swing of things, you might consider putting some extra planning into your road trip bathroom strategy. You may let your toddler wear pull-ups for the duration of the trip. You just never know how long it will be until they can get to a bathroom. You also might consider brining along their little kiddy potty. Then you can pull over on the side of the road wherever you are. If neither one of these ideas is your style, just make sure to take frequent potty breaks and have extra clothing easily accessible – just in case.
Ditch the Devises – Ok, not completely: you’re not a crazy person! But just remember that a family road trip isn’t just about getting from point A to point B. There are memories to be made. Sing songs, play games, read a book together. There is totally a time to bust out the Diamond edition of Beauty and the Beast on DVD. All I’m saying is that if the road trips of our generation turn into 10 hour-long Daniel Tiger marathons, we are severely missing the mark.
Here are a few websites that have some great game ideas for little kids:
Road Trip Presents – A fun tradition that we have in our family is road trip presents. Take a trip to the dollar store before you go and buy things like stickers, special sweets, and small toys. We even wrap them up in wrapping paper and pass them out throughout the trip as fun surprises. These little presents are nothing expensive but just fun distractions. It’s amazing how exciting fake mustaches can be after 7 hours in a car.
Snacks – How ever many snacks you think you should bring – double it. Make them fun. A snack can be an activity too. Also, you’ll want to pack things that are travel friendly. Make your life easier and don’t bring anything that requires a spoon. You can even pack everyone his or her own individual snack box.With older kids, you might consider letting them come to the store to choose some things that they are excited about.
Strategic Packing – How you arrange the car is more important than you might think. Take a few minutes and make a list of things that you think you will need on the drive. Things like snacks, garbage bags, wet wipes, diapers, toys, games, maps, phone chargers, etc. I like to use boxes to organize these things into groups. Then, put them somewhere that you can reach them (like at your feet or at the feet of a toddler). I like to ask myself “what are we going to need in the next 12 hours?” Everything else goes in the trunk or out of the way.
- Wet wipes
- Paper towels
- Trash bags
- Spill proof Snack Cups
- Sippy Cups or closed containers (even for older kids)
- Zip lock bags
- Bucket or sturdy plastic bag (for unexpected car sickness)
Another mess help is to pack everyone his or her own little backpack. This is a place to put shoes, jackets, Mr. Bear, coloring books, etc. Keeping things organized will go a long way for your sanity. At least it does for me.
Don’t buy into the myth that you can’t take your little kids on long trips. So many people think “My kids couldn’t possibly sit still for 10 hours in a car” (or a plane or a train or a minivan or whatever). Here’s why it’s a bad idea to wait: If they don’t learn to road trip as children they will only hate it more as teenagers. Teach them young and they will get used to driving long distances; wait until they are older and they will probably hate it forever. Your kids will be better travelers at 5, 12, 16 and 40 if they get used to it at age 2. So, buckle up, hit the road, roll down the windows and breathe in that warm summer air.
**Jack and Jill Travel was recently asked to guest blog on a family site called Let’s Get Together. You can see the original article here. You should spend some time looking around this amazing blog full of all kinds of family fun. From Birthday party brainstorming to the world’s best brownie recipes, they have it all. Happy reading.