If you’re looking to escape the endless drones of “I’m bored” this March Break but are afraid that your car doors suddenly seem more restricting than prison walls, have no fear – the successful road trip CAN be done… Sanity intact!
Last year my family was fortunate enough to be invited on a road trip to Orlando, Florida, courtesy of GM Canada and, of course, their new Chevy Orlando. While thrilled to be able to add this adventure to our summer agenda, double digit hours spent in the car with a busy 7 year old filled me with terror. What if he gets bored after the first hour? What if I brought the wrong activities to entertain him? What if there’s no Starbucks for miles???
Needless to say, we not only survived but even thrived, so I’m paying it forward to help you survive the dreaded ROAD TRIP…
STEP 1: Break the drive up into manageable chunks of drive time. Unless you have those kids who will pass out for 10+ hours at a time without waking, in which case, you’re already a winner!
STEP 2: Plan something fun to see or do at each stop – a landmark, a fun restaurant, an ice cream, 10 laps around the car… whatever works for you & your brood.
STEP 3: Load up on the car tunes - a little something for everyone's tastes. Not only can a group singalong pass the time, but if the whining gets to be too much, you can always crank the tunes and drown it out!
STEP 4: Stock up on “pleasant little time wasters”! Now’s not the time to take a stand against the “evils of the Electronic Babysitters” – embrace them… enjoy them… I might have even hugged them at various points of our journey! We were lucky enough to have an iPad with us that was loaded up with games, music, movies, TV shows… Happy kids = happy parents. Enough said.
STEP 5: Have some “off line” back up plans. I have a friend who plans a scavenger hunt that works for in-car time & break time (i.e. find 3 gas stations, 2 McDonalds, license plates from four states/provinces, a picnic table, 3 kinds of leaves, a straw, etc.) Winner gets their choice of some fantastic dollar store prize you stocked up on before you left!
STEP 6: Snacks, snacks & more snacks! Stopping for treats on the way can be fun – but if you don’t have your own stash ready & waiting to supplement the stops, you could spend your entire vacation in line at the local McDonalds! And while I did make a concerted effort to load up on the fruits, water, and healthy snacks, its amazing the extra mileage and bonus “cool mom” points I got for the extra container of mini-marshmallows – good times!
STEP 7: Put everything you need within arms’ reach. Seems like a no-brainer, right? But punctuating the ‘bliss’ of our family road trip with continual not-so-silent grumbles every time we had to pull over to grab extra snacks/games/DVDs/blankets/books/sweaters/whatever, was definitely less than idyllic!
STEP 8: This one was definitely a new one for me, but I’m now a huge advocate of using the local Tourism boards to help plan your trip. Perhaps I’m late to the party but I always assumed that as a somewhat intelligent multi-tasking mama, planning my own trip should be a piece of cake. But thanks to the incredible assistance of the wonderful people at Visit Orlando, I now know that the cake I thought I was enjoying was actually stale bread crusts, in comparison to what they could do for me. They not only planned all of our day trips & excursions with incredible ease, but even assisted us on things like securing a taxi to the airport on our way home (something I thought would be easier than it actually was!). Seriously – they’re now my new secret weapon – I won’t leave home without them!
STEP 9: Have fun. Despite all of your planning, best efforts, and good intentions, there will be bumps in the road along the way – someone may get car sick, someone may have forgotten their toothbrush, someone will get bored…. Just remember that in spite of – and even because of – all of these imperfections, your road trip will be absolutely perfect because you’re creating some of those family moments – good, bad & otherwise – that you’ll all remember for years to come.
So map out those Starbucks stops, take a deep breath, and enjoy the ride……………….