Summer…a time for travel! Relaxing vacations, a break from work, a time to rejuvenate. Oh, wait, never mind. That was all before I had kids. Vacationing with kids is a whole different ball game than pre-child vacationing. Endless whining about “when will we be there,” sleepless nights because the kids want their own beds, making potty trips every 30 minutes because your kids have bladders the size of single celled organisms. Yep, a nice relaxing vacation.
Getting to your vacation destination is half the battle. If you can make it to your destination with your own sanity intact you know you’ve accomplished a great feat. Last year I had the crazy amazing opportunity to drive myself and two boys (ages 4 and 16 months) 10 hours from Utah to San Diego. It took us about 12 hours, but we all made it in tact and relatively happy.
This year I decided I needed to top last year’s feat so I’ll be driving myself and my boys 22 hours from San Antonio to Utah. I know what you’re thinking. I’m insane. But trust me, it’s doable. Here are a few essentials for making your long summer drives bearable.
- If you don’t already have a portable DVD player INVEST IN ONE! Whether you’re traveling by plane or car, this will be a lifesaver. Be sure to take a variety of your kids’ favorite programs. If there are programs that your kids love, but you don’t own, check out Amazon.com. It will be worth the investment. We have a portable one that we tie around the passenger headrest with a wide piece of elastic. Ghetto, I know, but you gotta do whatever works.
- Snacks. Super important! My kids think car trips=lots of snack food. While constantly handing food to the back seats can be tedious, it keeps the kiddos quiet. Choose snacks that are low in refined sugars (you know how great you feel when you stuff you face full of skittles for the entirety of a 10 hour car ride). We like all natural fruit snacks, cheese, low salt crackers, fruit, raw veggies, etc. I usually pre-make several sippy cups of juice, water, and milk so I don’t have to stop mid-drive to fill cups. I prefer to give my kids liquid in small amounts so we aren’t making potty stops every hour. It is also helpful to pack individual snack bags with individual single servings.
- CD’s, iPod, or whatever mode of delivering music to your children’s ears. Because I know that even my TV-loving kids can’t watch DVDs for 22 straight hours with only a 9 hour break for sleeping. I bring my kids’ favorite quiet time and “dance party” CDs. When the kids need to take a rest I put on the quiet time CD. When they’re getting fidgety and edgy I put on the dance party CD. Rocking out in the car breaks up the monotony.
- Organize the car or your luggage the night before you leave. If you are flying make sure you pack each child their own backpack with all the snacks, activities, books, and toys they’ll need for the amount of time they’ll be on the plane. If you are driving organize the car with anything you’ll need accessible in the front 2 rows of the vehicle. If your kids are young and will need assistance keep all snacks and drinks within your arm’s reach.
- Pray for patience. Realize that the trip is probably going to be just as torturous for your children as it will be for you. Remember how, when you were 8 and took that two-day drive to visit your grandparents, you were convinced you would die of old age before you actually reached your destination. Yep, just keep that in mind.