This past Saturday, I took a road trip with my 8 year old, and I had time while driving to reflect on what great travelers my children are. My new word this week is “Consistencies”, in place of “routines” or “habits”. So I looked at what we do consistently, every day, to make traveling and really, life in general, better.
Here are some tips:
Have your kids help you pack. At my suggestion Saturday morning, my little guy helped me pack our picnic lunch, and packed his own bag of car entertainment (my IPad, his Nintendo DS, a book and the “new” camera his uncle passed on to him recently). Why does this help? He knew and liked what was on the lunch menu, and didn’t need to nag me for food. And he happily kept himself occupied during the drive, when he wasn’t busy snapping digital pictures!
Lay some travel ground rules, for you and your kids:
- Safety is of utmost importance. At all times. This is non-negotiable. There is no brawling, moving around the van, yelling, or anything else that will distract the driver or harm others.
- Get in, settle down, and buckle up. Quickly. This, too, is non-negotiable.
- Throw out your garbage every time you stop. The car will be less likely to smell like old French fries if there aren’t old French fries around. Makes sense, right?
- Use the rest room whenever you are given the chance. Woe unto the sluggish child who opts to stay in the car at a rest area and then needs a restroom 30 minutes later.
- Entertain yourself. It’s not my job, or your brother’s job to give you something to do. Pack your own fun.
- Don’t make us late.
- Clean your stuff out of my car every time we come home. If your soccer uniform is still in my van, it is not getting washed like it should be. And you can’t practice your band instrument if it is riding around town with me instead of at home with you.
What my fellow travelers can expect from me:
- Safety, at all times.
- I will stop at reasonable intervals for pit-stops, gas and snacks as necessary. Inform me once if you need something, but do not nag.
- It is reasonable to expect from the 5 of us, ages 8-43, that we can make it to Grandma’s (2.25 hours), Grandpa’s (2.5 hours), Uncle Sean’s (3 hrs) and the cottage (2 hrs) without stopping. Don’t expect stops, but appreciate stopping for ice cream on a whim.
- We will explore off the beaten track if time allows and we see something interesting (a favorite part of road trips!!). I am a sucker for hiking and roadside produce stands, and they know it.
Some more travel advice from the 8 year old:
- Bring a water bottle, but don’t drink it all at once. Makes the water last longer, and you won’t need to stop so soon.
- Chocolate car-candy melts quickly. Starbursts, on the other hand, taste better the mushier they are (he is obviously biased toward Starbursts, but he has a point!).
- If everyone gets different snacks at the convenience store, we can all share.
- If you sit in the front seat next to Mom, you get to control the music choices. I can’t wait until I’m big enough to sit up front.
Establish some of these consistencies with your family! Happy Travels!
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