Saturday, June 9, 2012

Traveling with Children and Not Losing Time or Your Mind

I will be going to Knoxville sometime this week to visit my sister and my mother.  It is only a five hour drive, but if the kids had their way, it would take 10 because we have to stop every 30 seconds.

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!

  1. Stop *only* at rest areas.  Scope them out at an online site like  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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.  
  4. 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.  
  5. 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.  
  6. 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.
  7. Put a change of clothes for each kid and a clean shirt for yourself into a small, easily accessible bag.
  8. Always, ALWAYS, clean the car before you leave. :)  
Leave a comment about your favorite traveling tips!

Happy travels!
post signature


ourhearts4home said...

Thanks for the ideas, Jess! I thought I'd toss in a couple of my ideas as well. When we travel I love to get some things the kids have not seen before and make it a surprise. Some of these things include dot to dot or maze or other puzzle books. I also love those books that have the water type pen and you mark up the page to reveal a picture or answers to a puzzle. They leave no mess and are fun for both my boys. I don't allow crayons, they melt lol. But I do allow a bag of colored pencils to accompany us. Those Klutz books are spendy but once in a while I allow a splurge on one they can share. We're putting together such a bag right now for our long flight in a few weeks. Flights, to me, are worse that cars. I can fit a lot more into the back of the car than I can a carry on bag! :)

I'm totally with you, we have those little travel pillows with tiny white balls inside. One per kiddo is plenty. ;)

If they are into a good book, they can bring that along too. I hope to pick up a couple more Tintin books as this has become a favorite for just fun, light reading around our home.

Happy travels!

Anil Kumar Patnaik said...

Liked the feelings, you expressed so very well, Jessica. Infact, I would prefer, having the old Phantom and Mandrake comics along with our family outings.

I have been telling a lot of those stories to my son but never did I purchase those books, as they are out of print, but we as children, ie me and my lil bro, read a lot of children comics with Phantom and Mandrake and really enjoyed a lot.