Surviving the Family Road Trip

Summer is a great time to go on a family road trip but be sure to pack a few tricks for a smooth ride.

This year we decided to ditch the security lines, strip searches and luggage fees and get in the old roadster for a good old fashioned family road trip. We’ve been taking this trip for years now and always via air plane so when we announced this year’s mode of transportation would be our car the kid’s response was less than enthusiastic. My 4 year old was easily talked into the idea with a bribe of a new Wild Kratz DVD but my 6 year old well, she was a different story.

“Why can’t we just fly? I will pay for it” she said in all seriousness. I told her it wasn’t about the money. It was about being together as a family on an adventure. It was about being able to stop along the way and discover new towns. It was about bringing our bikes, scooters and all of Mom’s shoes and not having to deal with the suitcases weighing over 50 pounds and being charged some ridiculous fee. My daughter still wasn’t convinced. Moans of how long it would take to get there, nothing good to watch on the DVD player and general sighs of boredom filled the room.     

It would be a long trip so I needed to get in gear and find ways to make sure this good old fashioned family road trip didn’t turn into a good old fashioned family meltdown. Ten hours of highway would mean having some tricks up my sleeve.

I started by taking the kids DVD shopping. I am not a fan of excessive TV matter of fact we don’t watch it during the week but this was an exception. My son’s choice was no surprise. He grabbed the Wild Kratz DVD and smiled. My daughter took more time as to not look too excited about any part of the trip. Finally she chose a movie, Babe and she and the little pig got in line. I snuck an oldie but goodie in with School House Rock. I might just climb in back and watch that DVD with them.

Next we sat down and wrote out what food goodies we could pack in the cooler. The list included my now famous power balls. I found these little protein packed balls online and even the big kids (aka Mom and Dad) like them. You can find the recipe and their real name online. Then the kids chimed in with pretzels, apples, mini peanut butter crackers, hummus and carrots and Junior Mints. Hmm, maybe I could use those little chocolate mints as mile markers. Get through the New York Thruway and get a piece of chocolate. No fighting driving through the state of Maryland and get a Peppermint Patty. Goes against my parenting style but this drive may call for some extreme parenting. Maybe I will start with some fun fruit and see how that goes over. Who can resist watermelon and kiwi?

Then came a chore they got very excited about….packing. Now that they each have their own suitcases packing is fun. We decided to do a mock pack. I let them pack anything they thought they’d need on our week long trip and sat back and watched. My son threw shorts, t-shirts and underwear in and zipped up his bag. “What about some books and toys” I asked him. Well that opened a whole can of worms. He went running from one end of the house to the other gathering trucks, cars, colored pencils and paper. My daughter ditched the clothes all together and joined her brother in the toy collecting insanity. They gathered items as if they were being timed. It was hilarious. I told my daughter I would help her pick out some outfits. After all, women have much harder fashion choices than men.  

Now that we have the essentials under control and the kids on board for this little road trip all that is left is marking off the days until we start down the highway of hell. I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend ten hours cooped up in a car with two kids under seven? Sounds like I am the one that needs convincing now.


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