I love me some vacation, but I don't love getting there. Whether we're flying or driving, the journey is the hardest part for my family. My 3 1/2-year-old gets bored easily. My 11-month-old doesn't sleep through the drives like he used to. They are sitting close enough to touch (pinch, prod, poke) each other. Four or five hours in the car with them can feel like FOREVER.
Here are a few dos and don'ts (things I've learned the hard way) to make your next road trip go a bit more smoothly:
Do: Give yourself extra time. Before kids, my husband and I would power through drives -- not stopping except for an emergency bathroom break. Now, we need to stop for multiple potty breaks, food breaks, and sanity breaks.
Don't: Forgo the adult music. Five hours of kids' music (even the good stuff like Dan Zanes) will "drive" you loony. (Pun intended.) Turning up the volume and playing some of your favorite tunes can be a good way to "recharge your batteries" after a few hours in the car. (Pun again intended.)
Do: Pack lots of snacks. I don't know about your 3-year-old, but mine never stops talking. A few hours of "Why?" and "What's that?" will have you grabbing for the snack bag ... because when they're eating, they're not talking.
Don't: Leave home without a full tank of gas. I'm not worried about running out of gas. I'm worried about having to stop to get gas once the kids FINALLY fall asleep -- huge bummer. When the kids go to bed, it's time to turn on talk radio, set the cruise control, and make up some time.
Do: Take the scenic route. Highways are B-O-R-I-N-G. Driving I-80 is about as interesting as watching water boil. No, actually watching water boil is more interesting -- at least something changes. Get off the highway -- even if it's just for a few exits to see some local sights.
Don't: Forget to put your suitcase in the car. Speaking from experience here. One time my husband and I packed up the car with the stroller, the pack ‘n play, and the kids' clothes, but forgot to put our suitcase in the car. When we got to our destination, we had to beeline it to the mall and buy all new clothes for our vacation. Rookie mistake.
How about you -- what tips do you have for parents preparing for a summer road trip?
Photo via Chovee/Flickr