Last week for spring break I took the kids down to Florida and back. My parents live a little ways outside of Tampa and so the drive can take anywhere from nine to - oh, a hellish twelve, hours?
Since I knew we'd be spending two solid days in the car, I wanted to not only survive the drive, but make it part of the fun.
Here are a few things that helped:
1. Books on cd. Books on cd. Books on cd. This was the game changer. The biggest challenge is to find something that interests all of you.
We chose The Tale of Despereaux & The Hobbit. The first one worked okay for all three of us, and for The Hobbit, Truett and I were both riveted. If I had it to do over again, I'd throw some of these Mercy Watson books in for June (Truett likes them, too).
2. Good food. Instead of tossing smooshed peanut butter & jellies into a bag (which, frankly, can taste great on a trip), I tried to make it more of a menu that worked well in a car.
I loaded up at Trader Joe's and these were our favorites:
Sea salt & sugar chocolate covered almonds.
Mini cheese sandwich crackers.
Thai lime & chili cashews (that only I liked, obvi).
And string cheese sticks.
3. All that food notwithstanding, a good old Waffle House stop is always fun.
4. Talking about all of the things we were looking forward to on the way, and all of our favorite things we did, on the way home.
5. Stop enough for fun & stretching, not so much that the trip seems to drag, and drag, and drag.
6. Lastly - leave early. The earlier the better. On our way, Bud & I loaded the kids into the car at a sleepy 5:45. I had juice ready and we stopped for breakfast a bit later. They were so groggy, the first hour or so barely registered. By lunchtime, we were more than halfway there!
I'm not entirely sure why leaving this early makes the trip feel so significantly shorter (maybe our bodies still think we're in the bed?) but it too was a game changer. Huge bonus: watching the sunrise from our car windows (with a cup of coffee for me :)
What have I missed? Do you have any genius car trip ideas? A girlfriend of mine said her mom & dad would stop at elementary schools and let them play on the playgrounds.
PS - 5 travel essentials.