More for my memory (and future reference) than anything else, I'm typing up a few notes about the car rides that seem to work well for us. This drive is 15 hours each way (that includes the stops for gas, lunch, etc) and we like to rip the band-aid off and get it all done in one day (each way).
I feel like things are a little different every year, but with planning and some prep work beforehand, it really helps us have a great time. Things that worked for us this year:
1. Leaving E.A.R.L.Y. Seriously huge. We pulled out at 3:00 one way and 4:00 the other way. Funny enough, this is one of Max's favorite parts (his words: "I love when you come in the middle of the night and wake us up for vacation. It's so fun getting to go in our jammies and sleep in the car more!").
2. Plastic cups for snacks are super handy. And ice cold water bottles in all the cup holders. What snacks worked well? Beef jerky (or if you ask our kids it is beef chicken), frozen grapes, teddy grahams, apples, carrots, string cheese, nuts, fruit snacks, and licorice.
3. I took some ideas from pinterest this year. Found one about a picture of a car attached to string that was attached across the width of the car. You could then slide the car from the start to the end. THIS WAS FANTASTIC. ENORMOUSLY helpful for our kiddos and the "are we there yet?" Gave them a great visual of how far we'd gone, and what was left. This is a keeper!
4. I love that the kids like to do their own thing, but I'd also found that handing them their own backpack seemed to get things really unorganized really fast. Like things all over the car floor in a matter of minutes, and them only using a couple of the things in there because they couldn't find the other stuff. And while we totally let them use electronics in the car (ipad, leapster and movies), we are still adamant that they spend PLENTY of time screen free. Rather than deal with the continual "mom, can I have the ipad again?" I tried a new system to help with the overall mess and with managing screen free time.
This year we did everything in separate zip locks. It all fit in one plastic tote that we kept between the girls. And, to keep things fresh, I thought labeling everything onto popsicle sticks would be fun. THEY LOVED THIS. Especially Alexis. The surprise of what to do next was more fun than anything. And really, I think we could even scale down the options a bit next year. Kept things in a rotation and turns for everyone all around.
5. We made this before the trip. Super fun for lego building in the car. Again, a modified version from what we found on pinterest!
6. We traveled without kermit this year. I seem to have a never ending love/hate relationship with my dog. Let's just say leaving him in great hands while we went on vacation was what we both needed. It was awful on the day before we left. I'd just taken Tayler to the doctor, only to find that the packing/cleaning had Kermit's anxiety and nerves through the roof. He threw up and had diarrhea all over his crate. Our whole main floor smelled disgusting! On top of the packing, I was in our backyard hosing him and the crate down. Yuck. Leaving him at the boarding place (or doggie spa as it is called), was stressful for me since I didn't know how he'd be. But it ended up great. Absence made the heart grow fonder. He couldn't wait to be my cuddle buddy on the couch every night as soon as the kids were down (and I was super excited to sit with him). Yet, he wouldn't even look at Mike for about 2 weeks. Every time Mike entered the room, he'd growl, leave or hide behind me. Clearly he faulted Mike for the decision.
7. Stopping for lunch was great this year. And easy to do since we did #6. Alexis loves trains so I snapped a pic of this one.
9. Using the 1/4 cookie sheet was fantastic for laps. The lip is so handy for holding pencils/crayons/etc.
10. The kids looked out the windows and just listened to music WAY MORE than I thought they would. I forget this when planning things for them to do in the car. And they like to just talk or enjoy goofy games. I really like the story cubes for story games in the car.
11. One of my favorite parts are the workouts we do whenever we stop the car. Running, jumping, lunges, squats, jumping jacks, push ups and stretches. I wish we'd taken pictures. We must look like such goofs. But, Tayler loved joining in with the other two, and even had her own version of squats and lunges. Too cute!
12. This is also so successful because Mike ROCKS at driving long distances. I don't know how he does it.
Until next time!!