I’m going to continue to ignore the half dozen draft posts that have been staring at me for months. Daydreaming about fiction books can wait, because lately I’ve been not just dreaming, but planning an east coast road trip for our family of four.
We are not strangers to road trips with kids. We took a similar trip to the one we’re about to embark on when our oldest was just 22 months old. The youngest took her first 8 hour car trip at 14 months, and has repeated it every year since. Some say we’re crazy, but we enjoy the freedom traveling in our own car gives us.
My daughters are now 6.5 and 3.75 years old, and this might be the hardest age to plan a trip for. Well, other than infancy when feeding and changing occurs every two hours or all hell breaks loose.
Both girls are potty trained. Neither have life threatening allergies (that we’ve discovered). So why is this the hardest age?
Because the little one copies the big one, and the big one asks, even on trips around town, “Are we there yet?”
So here are 4 ways that I hope to avoid hearing “Are we there yet?” on our next trip.
1. Planned stops. As an adult or even a teen, you can just drive until you absolutely must use the restroom and then get right back on the road. With young kids, this can be a recipe for disaster. Their bladder control is just not that good. So I have planned stops in active areas ever 2 hours throughout the trip. Why search for active areas and exits? Clean bathrooms. If any of you have ever had young kids refuse to use a public toilet before, you understand how crucial clean bathrooms are to a happy trip.
2. DVD player. I know there are all kinds of studies calling screen time the devil, but it helps the sections of the trips fly by for kids. I’ve picked a surprise new movie, they picked a new movie, and we’ll pack 3-4 favorites to take with us as well.
3. *NEW* Map reading skills. Now that the oldest can read and has studied basic geography, we’ve spent a lot of time this summer talking about the map and our route. The girls both know all the states we’re going to, the order we’re visiting them in, and where they are located on the map. Where are we? Are we there yet? Let’s check the map!
4. *NEW* Surprise toys. In the past, I have allowed the girls to pick whatever toys they want as long as it fits in a certain bag or bin. This trip, since our only real downtime is in the car, I’m packing for them. Colored pencils and paper, Crayola Wonder markers and paper, school workbooks, Busy Books which include a play mat and mini figures to play with, a soccer ball for exercise at our planned stops, and – the biggest surprise for them – a new LeapPad (the youngest broke ours over a year ago) and the use of my old Nintendo DS. They will be allowed to top off the bag with their comfort items – blankets, stuffed animals, iPods, and one item of their choosing.
Have you tried any of these before? Were they successful? What have you done successfully on a road trip? What has been an epic fail?