Thursday, March 19, 2009

Children and Long Trips

As we get closer to moving, I have to start focusing on how we are going to get there. As you should know by now (if you've been following along for any length of time), we have three little boys. They are six years, three years, and almost two (at the end of April). This makes for some interesting dynamics for traveling across the country. Lucky for me they all love traveling. We did a trip to California last August and they all did beautifully the entire way. Thank you Dodge for having a built in TV in my van!

We will be taking longer to travel this time however, making a couple of stops along the way instead of trying to just shoot through in the shortest time possible. This means that we have to find ways to entertain the boys other than movies. So I wanted to go over some things we will be doing to occupy them and ourselves for the trip.

Backpacks! I have backpacks for each of the boys that I will be filling with toys and stuffed animals so they don’t have any way to complain that they are bored or don’t have anything to do. This is especially handy when you are in a hotel and all they want to do is play but you just want to sleep!

Toys: Most kids have at least one toy or type of toy that they really like to play with. For us that is cars. Thankfully we have plenty of them around that even if we left one at a hotel, it would never be missed! Another thing that works wonders for us is the dollar toys that don’t mean much. You can find the generic brand of magnadoodles at Wal-Mart and the kids absolutely love them. They are good for hours and hours of fun.

Movies: I mentioned the fact that we have a built in TV in the van. Wonderful invention I think. This makes for much easier driving. Before we had one I thought that it would be distracting to the driver, but really its not. It’s just distracting to the driver behind you! Seriously though, its not that bad. It breaks up the monotony of having to either find a radio station or putting in a music CD, and it keeps the kids occupied for a couple of hours at a time.

Comfort Items: Pillows and blankets are great things to have on a road trip, but I didn’t have to tell you that! :) My guys also like to have a stuffed animal to hang on to. They like the soft fuzzy feeling of their little friend.

Food: Coolers are wonderful things, but there's only so much you can put in them. I try to have a dry cooler and a cold cooler. The dry cooler is for things like snacks, bread, fruit, condiments that don’t need to be cooled, and drinks that don’t need to be cooled. The cold cooler is for things like sandwich meat, cheese, and cooling off sodas. I like to bring along things like string cheese, grapes, apples, oranges, granola, jerky, chex snacks, peanut butter, jelly, bread, and deli meats.
Drinks: I separated this because it is a subject in itself. Having the proper hydration is a good thing on a long trip. Sodas are great for a pick me up but it shouldn’t be your only fluids for a trip. Keeping a couple of water bottles in the vehicle is a good thing. You don’t have to have a huge box of them, but having at least enough for the trip. Or better yet you can fill a large jug of water and get refillable bottles. For the kids I like to get Capri Sun for their flavored drink. It has less sugar than the other types and its real juice instead of fake flavoring. They need water too, don’t forget. You might want to get them a sports bottle to make it easier for them in the vehicle.

Take a break! It’s a long way from Arkansas to California. A loaded down truck and trailer plus a handful of kids dictates that there will be plenty of opportunities to stop along the way. Bathroom breaks are a great time to check the trailer for any issues, but its also a great time to check out the town you stop in. Find a park and let the kids run around a bit and stretch your own legs.

Act like a tourist! Since we will be taking our time on this move, we can actually stop and see some of the sights. I like being a tourist. I've driven past the Grand Canyon three times now and have not yet stopped to see the sights. I intend to do so this time.

This is the first in a series on moving long distance. Look for future installments on the subject of packing and preparing little ones for the big move.