Wednesday, April 23

Works-for-me Wednesday

We're back from our trip!! We had a great time, other than the fact that we spent at least 17 hours in the car over three days. Luckily, John hates driving, and I get carsick if I'm not driving, and the kids do fairly well in the car, so everything worked out for us. :)

(If you're here from Rocks, and looking for the marriage wfmw, click here for last week's tip. I have no idea how Mister Linky works, so I don't know why last week's tip is on the list. Anyway ...)

So, in the spirit of spending 46 17 hours in my car, I thought I'd post some tips that work for me when traveling with my kids. (For more great tips from other incredibly wise and creative people, visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer at her Works for Me Wednesday page.)

We have a portable DVD player, but we don't like to use it. In fact, it gets more use upstairs in the loft than it does in the car. I don't know that it's even been in the car in the last few years. But I digress. Before we take a trip lasting more than 45 minutes (which is often, because we kind of live in the middle of nowhere), I always start by cleaning out my car. Then, I get a gallon ziplock bag for each child and write their names on their bags. In the bag goes (depending on the length of the trip): a small bottle of water; a box of raisins; a little bag of something higher in protein, like cashews or walnuts; a pencil or two; a new box of crayons (the 8-pack kind; I have about 20 of these hidden in one of my cabinets!); a new or mostly empty coloring pad; and for longer trips, a new little book. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but those are the basics.

We own about 20 gazillion books, so I make sure to rotate the ones that stay in the car fairly often. My kids love the Where's Waldo? series, and they also love coloring books, so I usually buy a new one before any long (over 2 hours) trip. We've also been known to bring whatever read aloud book we're in the middle of reading, and get through a few chapters on the road.

I make sure to have their Bible tapes in the car before we leave, because I don't mind having those in the background for several hours. :) I usually bring my mp3 player to listen to when John and the kids are asleep ... which is often. My family is full of great car sleepers! I love it when my kids sleep in the car!!

If I can find anything good at the library or Half-Priced Books, I try to get books on tape or CD, and this not only provides the kids with something to do, but it also gives us great conversation starters when they get tired of listening.

We always try to schedule in extra travel time for long trips, so we can make stops whenever we need to without feeling stressed. When the kids get out of the car, I encourage them to yell and move around as much as possible to get the wiggles out. Yes, you'll get some really funny looks if you try this, but who cares??

I have a friend whose daughters know how to crochet, so she always buys then a new skein of yarn before each trip, and the girls work on knitting projects if they get bored; I'm planning on teaching Evie how to crochet in the next few months if I don't kill her first um if she doesn't kill me first if I can.

For longer trips, I make sure each kid has a pillow and small blanket, and I keep the car a little cooler than normal, because it makes it easier for them to sleep. Have I mentioned how much I love it when my kids sleep in the car? Because I do. Seriously.

So there's a few of my traveling-with-kids tips. It's what works for me. Does anyone else out there have any travel tips? What helps keep your punks kids happy in the car?


Jeni said...

Those are great tips! I'll have to remember them for when my girlie is older.

Anonymous said...

My DD is 3 1/2 and received a portable cd player with headphones for Christmas. She has a lot of music CDs and a few books on CD so she enjoys being able to listen to her music and books and my husband and I enjoy being able to talk or listen to our own music without interuptions.

RAN said...

My kids are grown and starting their own families now, but when mine were small, they loved to finger weave. My boys would create long ropes of finger woven yarn, as we traveled. Then we got to our camping destination, they could imagine that they were cowboys with a lasso. Easier than learning to knit or crochet.

Anonymous said...

Great ideas, Brea! I'll have to keep this in mind when Anja gets a little older...

Sarah said...


The Koala Bear Writer said...

I really like the Ziploc bag idea... it gives them something to be excited about for car trips. I'll have to remember that when Sunshine is older (so far, she just sleeps...). My mom used to read to us occasionally on long trips, and my hubby and I do that a lot too.

The Koala Bear Writer said...

Oh, and for audio books - check the library. We've found a great selection at ours, though the last book that we borrowed skipped badly (rather disappointing).

Jessica said...

Fantastic tips & great timing. I'm planning a trip that is 8+ hours each way for in a couple weeks, & actually googled this very thing just today.

Can you let me know when the crochet lessons start? I've never gotten past one really long chain. Thanks ever so!

Amy # said...

For long trips we always take the DVD Player, and a selection of their favorites, plus one or two new DVDs.

Each girl also has their backpack that contains a change of clothes (so when we stop at the hotel, we don't have to unpack the entire car) colors, blank paper, coloring books, school workbooks, reading books, crafts from the dollar store, and games. I also have a box of snacks and a small ice chest with water, juice and other drinks. So, along with their pillows, blankets, and individual CD players to listen to books on tape or their favorite Hannah Montana, Cheetah Girls, and Bible and Nursery Songs on CD.

I also like to make a schedule for stops every 2 hours for potty, stretch breaks, visiting historic sites/landmarks, and to stop at a reasonable hour (5 or 6 pm) for dinner and to get a hotel room. I find that I can avoid a lot of unpleasant bickering if the kids (and myself) get frequent breaks, food, and rest at a decent hour. (Unlike my childhood trips where my dad would drive straight through!)

jesnicole said...