It's Summer and it's time to ROADTRIP!!!
It's normal to be a little apprehensive when planning a long car trip. I grew up traveling all across the country for up to 6 weeks at a time. We would drive out West, camp, stay in hotels, and see the continent. I'm thankful to my parents that they gave me this opportunity. At the age of 27 I had been to 49 states. I'm still holding out for that Alaskan cruise...hint hint hubby! =)
Because my parents gifted me with such an opportunity, I am committed to giving my kids a similar experience. I'm not crazy about spending hours upon hours in the car but in order for my family of five to see the world, our budget necessitates car trips more often than not. Since my husband is from Texas, more than half of our family is there. That means 20 hours car trips for us and we do this at least twice a year.
Our first 20 hour car trip came when our twins were a few months old. I will say that it was hardest during that time because of breastfeeding and diaper changes. I think it's important to start traveling early though as it helps when the kids are accustomed to travel. My twins are now six and they know how far Texas is and have a pretty good sense of the size of states. This experience helped them in Kindergarten when they studied the world and the 7 continents.
You may see the importance of travel but can't imagine biting the bullet. What you need is a survival guide.
This is what works for us. Please share what works for you!
We generally start out around 1pm...just before nap time. Everyone is well fed and ready to go. We sing some songs, talk, etc until the troops start to drift. Usually we can get a good hour or 2 nap out of them. We do a snack after naps and then pull out the crayons, markers, activity books (homework!), and magnadoodles. Dinner time hits and we either stop for fast food or dig into the cooler if I've planned well.
After dinner we pull out the DVD players. We have one for the back row (twin seats) and a single player for the singleton. That usually keeps the peace til they fall asleep. Many times we have driven through the night which makes for a fairly easy trip since we have reinforcements in Houston when we get there. We hand the kids off to the in-laws and sleep like CRAZY. This scenario would be close to impossible without help on the other end. We usually arrive in Texas around 9 or 10am. Whoosh...not an easy trip.
In the past few years we've gotten smarter/wimpier and we've been stopping somewhere along the way. This makes the trip harder in some ways since the kids are awake for the 2nd half of the trip. Here's the thing I've learned about roadtrips...and parenting in general. For the most part kids live up to the expectations of the adults around them. I have high expectations for my childrens' behavior and that includes 20 hours in the car. I did it growing up (without!!! a DVD player) and so can they.
I'm curious. What tricks are up your sleeve? Do you roadtrip with your kids? How far and what are your non-negotiables? What do you pack for your kids? How do you entertain them during those long hours in the car?