“Are We There Yet?” Famous last words. At least twice a year, we head over the river and through the woods from the San Francisco Bay Area to Oregon. Several times a year, we also travel in the opposite direction down to LA. We’ve done it with newborns, motion-sick toddlers, preschoolers, teenagers, grandparents, and even the family cat.
Our family’s reenacted scenes that could easily fit into a comical rendition of The Griswalds Meet The Exorcist. But over and over we’ve survived, and we’ve even come to enjoy ourselves along the way.
Whether it’s to “Wally World” or Grandma’s house, here are a few tips to help get you to your destination safe, sound, and hopefully sane:
- Make sure to have your car in good maintenance and the oil changed before setting out on a long excursion. If you’re heading through mountain passes or areas with unpredictable weather, make sure to have chains or a car with all-wheel drive capabilities. Outfit your vehicle with a cell phone charger and emergency kit just in case, too.
- Pack a separate smaller bag of essentials to put on top of your luggage, and keep it within easy reach should you need it. Include a change of clothes for the kids, a few toiletries, wipes (regardless of passenger age), a towel in case of a big mess, a few Ziploc bags and a trash bag. For the motion-sick prone we’ve found that lining the car seat with a waterproof mattress cover helps a lot.
- Dress your kids in layers. In the car, it can get warm, but outside can be pretty chilly!
- Have some sort of GPS device. Nothing makes tempers flare and babies cry like extra hours stuck in the car looking for roads.
- Kids tend to sleep on long car-rides so why not make them comfy? Bring lovies, a soft blanket, and maybe a pillow or two.
- I always tell my older son he can fill a small backpack with whatever he can cram into it. He usually chooses coloring books, games, small toys, etc. And he’s always happy to play with them once we get to our destination, too.
- Pack a cooler with plenty of snacks (crackers, bananas, yogurt tubes, drink containers with re-sealable lids). This helps stave off hunger till you’re ready to pull over for a meal, and saves money, too!
- Research eateries in the major cities you’ll be traveling through. You might find a family-friendly place with a spot for the kids to play, not to mention eating nothing but fast-food while traveling gets kind of gross.
- When you stop for gas, food, or bathroom breaks, let the kids out and run them around a little bit. Getting the wiggles out is a great thing!
- A portable potty is defiantly a nice thing to have around when there’s not a bathroom in sight for miles.
- DVD players, handheld gaming devices, iPods, and books are a great distraction for kids of all ages!
- A map or TripTik is a fantastic way for older kids to track the progress of the trip from start to finish.
- When all else fails sometimes, you have to break out the sugar. We’ve satiated the little ones with lollipops at one point or another. I’m a firm believer in bribes.
CATEGORY: Travel tip