Making Travel Easier

We are back from our week-long, fun Colorado adventure! The next few blog posts will likely be about our trip, but my first post is going to be about the drive, and how we made it less painful. Because seriously, we could not have dreamed of smoother travel with the boys (minus a few bathroom breaks that it would have been nice to avoid, but that’s just a given when traveling with kids).

Something miraculous came over our kids while in the van…I’m not joking, it was like they were someone else’s angels. As soon as we reached our destination each leg of the trip, they turned back into their normal loud, bickering, wrestling selves. But in the van, they were GOOD.

Here are a few of the things I planned that worked for us on this trip:

1. DVD Player – duh. But seriously, we don’t let them watch it all the time, so when they do, it holds their attention. I put the DVDs in a small paper shopping bag for them to access them easily.

2. Nintendo DS/Leapster. Again, they aren’t allowed to play it all the time, so it works well in spurts.

3. Snacks. I portioned out a bunch of stuff beforehand, like Kix and Golden Grahams cereal, Cheeze-Its, and Annie’s Bunny Graham crackers, plus pre-packaged sandwich crackers. For the 2 older boys who sat in the 3rd row seat in the van, I filled a shoebox full of snacks. When it was snacktime, they got whatever they wanted out of the box. I had extras that I could reach to give to Jack Henry, stored with other food for the trip in my new huge 31 tote (to see it, click on the letter X on the page this brings you to, on my childhood friend Jen’s 31 website) from Karen!

4. Cooler within reach. We took out one 2nd-row seat (behind the passenger seat) to allow room for the cooler, which had the boys’ reusable water bottles, smaller disposable water bottles, a big 100 oz. water container ($1 at Walmart), Capri Sun and the caffeine necessary for Matt and I to drive 2000+ miles with our children over the course of 8 days.

5. Trash can within reach. This for me is a sanity-saver. On our last trip to Michigan, I felt like the boys were constantly handing me trash. Or, they were just throwing it on the floor. A couple of weeks ago, they finally wore me down and talked me into buying that giant container of cheese balls at Sam’s Club. We stuck a bunch of the cheese balls in the freezer, and used that container for our trash in the van. Worked perfectly! Plus, if anyone had gotten motion sickness (something we’ve never had a problem with in the past, but you can never be too prepared) it would have worked well for that.

6. Activity books! Nana Jo sent us a great care package before leaving, and the boys had new ruled notebooks to write in with new markers. They used these several times, and the older boys journaled a little bit of our trip in them, too. She also sent these learning games, which were used again and again. I also highly recommend these Rand McNally travel books for kids! The older boys loved playing Hangman, too. We put all of this kind of stuff in a small duffel bag that stayed at the boys’ feet.

7. The License Plate Game. The quintessential touring-America game that we were all addicted to again this year. I bought the boys this book, and it was fun to see the map fill up with stickers! Once, in a parking lot in Estes Park, Bennett screamed so loud about spotting New Jersey that he got the attention of several passers-by!

8. This is not so much for the actual driving part, but important to have in your car (and later, backpack, if you’re hiking): a first-aid kit. Obviously, you can put your own together, but Johnson & Johnson makes a great one for about $10 that has so much stuff in it…totally worth not having to think through what you might need.

9. Neck pillows…found these for about $4 each at Christmastime at Menard’s. Great purchase.

10. I almost forgot! We borrowed the Narnia series on CD after Kathy mentioned it on Facebook…so, so good. We listened to 2 of the books, which we interspersed between movies/DS/other activities. I didn’t love Aslan’s voice in this one…if we end up buying it, I may look for another recording, but overall, a big hit with the older boys and the adults! Jack Henry played with his little Toy Story figurines during much of this time.

I’ll add to this as I think of things…in the meantime, I have well over 250 pictures to sort through so that I can start posting here!

3 responses to “Making Travel Easier

  1. This is great!!! I will have to save this fi we end up going across country:) Obviously will take mostly Jack Henry ideas as that fits my ages better, but still great ideas.

  2. Garbage is my take-home message. I FREAK OUT after long trips when you can’t tell the wrappers from the real food! I WILL remember one next time. Great advice!

  3. Love these ideas Nicole! We did several of these things on our trip from WA to STL and it really does work changing things up. Great job and so glad you guys had such a fun time. I love the license plate book especially!

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