While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about.
~Angela Schwindt

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Being a mom, I get to learn a lot of things about traveling with Young Kids

Okay so I'm feeling the need for a bit of trip randomness.....

seeing how the summer travel season is now upon us.

I've just recently discovered that I hate LONG road trips with kids, but
I have found a few things that made them more bearable for me.
We like to save $$$ whenever we can, so on trips we try and resort
to eating food in the car while we're driving and we just have a
water bottle for each person in the car. We carry a thermos jug
which we keep ice and water in to refill our bottles when needed.

We also carry an ice chest and keep a block of ice in it to keep all the
food cool. We cut up veggies ahead of time and place in Ziploc bags
for ease of snacking while on the road. We like celery, carrots and cut
up cucumbers. YUMMY!! (I also carry a jar of peanut butter
for use on the celery and carry a disposable knife for spreading)

We've tried the ritual of making sandwiches in the car while driving and
with myself being the mother I find it makes the trip more chaotic for me
when I have to do this in the car. So we've changed things up a bit and
find a way to make the sandwiches ahead of time and place in Ziploc sandwich
bags and write names on the bag, so we can identify who they belong to.
So when the designated "meal" time arrives it's just a matter of opening the ice
chest and tossing back the sandwiches to who they belong to.

I just wish that I could have taken a picture
of the food stuff we had on our last trip before we
started to devour it all.

And as a rule thumb having something sweet in the car is ALWAYS a must. This can be apple slices, washed grapes, cookies, candy (like jolly ranchers) anything to help break up the boring food routine you sometimes run into on a trip.

I also like to make sure that I have some kind of bite sized snack, like cheese crackers, dry cereal --- something easily eaten by the one driving so that you have something to "concentrate" on and help get you to the next stop.

And keeping empty grocery bags on hand for trash helps in the cleanup when the trip is over. So if you can throw away as you consume, less to take care of afterwards.

We always take binoculars on our trips, and we'll even pass them around and let each person have a 5-10 minute turn, using them to look around and see what there is to see. And as far as packing goes, I don't mind doing laundry while we're gone if we'll have access to a facility of some kind. That way we can reduce the amount of clothing to be taken. Because let's face it, when you have a family of 7 and drive a mini van without a car top carrier of any sort or capabilities for a trailer on the back of the van... well you run out of space QUICKLY. So we've learned to combine several kids clothes in one bag, and then only let them carry their small blankets with them up front and shove the sleeping bags into the back for safe keeping.

Which brings me to the point that EVERYONE needs to have a ROAD ATLAS with them. Especially if you are driving in unfamiliar territories and don't know your way around, this will allow you to have back up routes to take and help you plot your course. Of course, Mapquest is a good source for the very specific directions from the main "freeway/highway" to the business or house you are locating. But don't solely rely on them, they don't always give you the best way. And if you are lucky with the Atlas you get, REST AREAS are usually marked out so you can try to plan your "potty" stops accordingly.

A little caution about shoes. Especially if the owners of said shoes happen to be children, who if they are anything like my own travel with all sorts of "CRAP" at their feet and love to take off the shoes. When everyone gets into the car, grab their shoes and put them into either a 'Bag' just for shoes, or right under the seat you sit in or some designated spot just for the shoes. That way when you need to get everyone out AGAIN, because someone forgot to GO last time which was only 20 minutes earlier, you will most likely cut down on the "find the shoe" time. It's totally helped with our car trips, because ALL my kids enjoy taking of their shoes in the CAR.

Another tip I got last year from a friend was that if you are making a cross country stretch,and are traveling with lots of little kids and/or people in the same family, you can pack one bag for everyone the first night and then you just have to grab the one suitcase for the night and not need to unpack the entire car, for only a one night stay that might only last 9 hours maximum.

That helped us out a lot last year when we trekked across the country from Utah to West Virginia over the period of a few days.

Always travel with your camera HANDY and with fresh batteries and "FILM" or a fairly empty memory card. You never know when you'll wish you could get to it.

These are just some lessons I've learned while traveling with my wild brood!!

What great ideas or tips do you have that I haven't mentioned. Does anything make your trips as parents more of a BREEZE and cut back on the stress that seems to naturally come while on a trip with several young children?

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