When I tell people about our long car trips, the number one question is usually “How do you do it with two young kids?” or “How do you not lose your mind, my kids would never sit still that long”. The answer really isn’t a simple one and the truth be told, sometimes we do lose our minds. Trying to keep everyone happy on a long car trip, some that even last for several days, is impossible. Don’t set your standards that high. However, there are a few things that we do in order to make our road trips more manageable and even mostly enjoyable.
1. Keep the Car Clean.
I made this my #1 because in my book it is most important. When the car is a mess, the things that we need to stay busy and the snacks that we want to munch on get harder to find. Plus, being that we are already stuck in a small car, when we add a mess to the mix it only becomes that much more smaller. I’ve found that when the car is a mess, everyone feels just a bit more cranky. To solve this problem, I like to give our car a really good cleaning before we leave on a road trip and also maintain the clean throughout the trip by throwing away all collected garbage at every gas station stop. It also helps to designate a small bag for garbage to make these stop quicker and easier.
2. Pack Snacks.
When I am hungry I can’t think. I say things that I don’t mean and I fail to enjoy what I normally enjoy, like watching the buildings, fields and tree’s gracefully float past me out the window and dance in the sunlight. When I am hungry, I am just not myself and that’s not who I want to be. One way that we combat hunger crankiness is by packing snacks. Each member in our family packs their own snack bag with what they like best and with what will keep them fulfilled until our next meal stop. To give you an idea, my bag usually looks something like this.
Seriously, have you tried the new SNICKERS® Almond? Mmmm….. my total new fav.
3. Take the Road Less Traveled.
When we road trip we like to take the road less traveled. This means getting off the expressway when we can and driving along the back roads. Yes, this can add mileage and time to our trip, but we have found so many lovely things by doing this and have been able to visit several famous American roadside attractions. It is definitely worth the little added time.
4. Plan Ahead.
Having a loose plan in mind before we set out on the road helps to keep things running smoothly and cuts down on pressured decision making, which can cause me a lot of tension. Here are a few way I plan ahead for a road trip.
– Have Change Handy. I can’t tell you how many times we have wandered our way onto a road or a bridge with a toll. Not having change handy means that we would have to find another route or go look for a place to get change. Now when we travel I make sure to have a jar of coins ready before hand.
– Invest in Comfort. Before our last road trip I bought everyone small neck pillows. Best decision ever! Having this small neck pillow made me feel so much more comfortable and kept me from getting my normal kink in the neck while riding. No kinked neck = happier momma. We also bought a small travel potty for the kids in case we found ourselves somewhere without bathrooms for miles.
– Research fun stop and attractions ahead of time. We like to make a list of all the places we would to see along the trip. While we don’t expect to stop at everything, this list gives us an idea of what is around us when we are needing a stop. Plus, it helps to break up the trip into smaller sections by giving us destination points that are within an attainable time frame. “Only one more hour until we get to see the giant pencil!”. It helps.
5. Be Flexible.
Flexibility is a must have when deciding to take a road trip. When driving in a car, not everything is on a strict schedule like it is when traveling by plane. There is traffic congestion, detours, bathroom breaks and unexpected mishaps. Sometimes we have to be flexible to skip a planned stop or stop somewhere unplanned. We have also found that it is super important to know when to call it a day and stop for the night. There is nothing worse than pushing yourself too far when you are tired. Call it a day, find a place to stay and pick it back up in the morning.