We recently made the long drive down to Charleston, SC where most of my family lives. We make this drive a few times each year and many times we leave daddy at home to work while we play. This means one adult to lots of children. I’ve tried many things to get us all there without massive meltdowns or fights in the car. Here are a few things that make our ride go smoothly:
Snack Bags: Each child is given a snack bag with their name on it. The snacks are healthier versions of typical junk food snacks. Still fun, but without extra sugar or food dyes… minus the Nutella dippers, those are obviously NOT low on sugar. They receive the entire bag and are responsible for rationing their snacks throughout the trip. This teaches them to be responsible, make choices for themselves and keeps me from having to hand things out while driving. My snacks, usually popcorn (479 Degrees GMO-free popcorn is my fav!) or something salty, are taken out of the original bags and placed in resealable ziplock bags. It reduces mess and spills and fumbling around with a bag while driving.
Activity Bags: The activity bags contain things like new blank notebooks and new markers or crayons. I found scented markers for $2 a box and that made the bag extra fun this time around. I also include a book and a small toy or novelty. As we drive I give the kids writing/drawing prompts. “Try to draw a picture of our van, what does it look like driving down the road?” Or, “Write a couple of sentences describing what you see as we pass through this town or rest stop, what do you think the people like to do here?” We only have two that are writing sentences, so the others draw pictures or just doodle. I am hoping that as they get older they will embrace the idea of a travel journal, we shall see.
Screens: We do limit screens but they definitely become an asset on car trips. After the snacks and activity bags have lost their luster and we’ve passed through the “time tunnels” in North Carolina and sang 25 car songs and taken some short naps the kindles are allowed to come out. Thanks to Great Grandma and Christmas we have four kindles at our disposal. They will generally play or read on the kindles for an hour or so until one of them falls asleep again or gets car sick. That leads me to my next must-have.
Pod Casts/Radio Shows: This is obviously a personal choice but for some reason talk radio, a good podcast (This American Life or a recent Sermon series) really keeps me awake and alert and also in a good mood. Music starts to become background noise after a few hours, as much as I love it. I also feel like I’ve invested time in something or benefited when listening to a podcast or sermon series.
The Portable Potty: This is my final tip for no-hassle car trips. Small children have no timer on their bladder and we have used the portable potty more times than I can count. It’s so much easier than hauling four cranky kids into a restroom. It also saves a lot of time. In fact, on occasion I have swallowed my pride and used the portable potty. When all the kids are sleeping peacefully after hours in the car I’m certain you would use the Portable potty too. Just don’t forget the toilet paper!
Goodbye Normal readers, we want your input! Please comment with YOUR best road trip secrets.