I do not drive 5 hours on I-40 to view the Tennessee countryside or to see the skyscrapers (I am using that term very loosely) of Nashville. I just want to get to where I am going with as minimal an effort as I can get away with using.
My kids, however, have a different way of thinking. They want to use the bathroom, buy a snack, get a drink, stretch their legs, or whatever other excuse they could come up with to stop our forward momentum. I made a drive there last summer and did really well on time! It also did not cost anything but a little money for food and close to a million for gas, because gas, you know, is incredibly expensive.
I made some changes to the way we did things and I wanted to share those with you, as it is vacation season!
- Stop *only* at rest areas. Scope them out at an online site like http://www.interstaterestareas.com/ or do a Google search for rest areas along your route. I have 4 between my starting location and where I am going. We stop at all of them, regardless. Everyone *has* to get out and potty. I don't care if they "don't haf to." Do not stop at gas stations unless you need gas. Otherwise, you will buy something - like a candy bar - and everyone in the car will decide that they can no longer "hold it" and a quick stop at the gas station will turn into a half hour ordeal.
- Buy snacks and food - including candy bars - at the grocery store before you leave. I get the food we typically only get when we travel - Hot & Spicy Cheezits, Chips Ahoy, and a couple bags of Frosted Donuts... I also get clear, flavored drinks - like those Roaring Water Capri-suns and also get bottled water. I pack a cooler and put in the drinks, ice, and luncheon meat. I also put in an avocado, caesar dressing, red pepper strips, and romaine lettuce. I also pack a box with tortilla wraps or pitas and several peanut butter and jelly sandwiches already made up and cut into halves. I finish it all up with bananas, the smallest apples I can find, a bag of grapes, and several ziploc bags of chips. This year, I am going to pack lunch sacks containing a fruit, bag of chips, sandwich and a cookie so everything will be ready to just hand out, instead of having to pull over and go through everything.
- This is a good time to rot your brain on movies. If you have portable DVD player or laptop computer, or both, make sure they are charged and ready to go. Pack a couple of Redbox movies and return them to the nearest Redbox at your destination. I also let them take their Gameboys, Nintendo DS, iPod touch, and the Innotab. Several of those have car chargers so I make sure I grab those as well.
- Don't go overboard on the pillows and blankets. I allow one small pillow per child, not their bed pillow, but something like the pillow pet or small throw pillow. The blanket they are allowed is the size of a small throw or, in one kid's case, the size of a crib blanket.
- I always bring my "spankin' spoon". Because, I am a mean mom like that and the kids know I have it and that is generally enough. Only once have I had to use it while traveling.
- Bring a roll of paper towels and a box of baby wipes, even if you don't have a baby. If you don't want to do the baby wipes, then put three wet washcloths in a ziploc bag.
- Put a change of clothes for each kid and a clean shirt for yourself into a small, easily accessible bag.
- Always, ALWAYS, clean the car before you leave. :)