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Low Stress Getaway With Kids
Take Me Away!
In my pre-mom days I used to hop in the car and drive to different destinations just to get a change of scenery. I'd pack a bag, fill up the tank, and go.
Nowadays that's not such an easy task. With three young children road trips can be tricky if not down-right miserable. It's taken a while to learn some nifty tricks that give me the chance to still fulfill that whimsical side, but keep my troops happy. The following tips are little things I do to make sure my road-tripping tendencies don't get squashed by my mommiedom.
To Makeup Or Not To Makeup
Pack It And Leave It With Your Go To Suitcase
One thing that I've learned to do is keep everyone prepared, even when we're not going anywhere. No, I don't actually pack a suitcase. What I do is pack a toiletry bag...for everybody. Use a small makeup case for everyone in the family and put it near the suitcases. This way you're always ready to go with the essentials.
What To Pack
- lotion (regular and sunscreen)
This list does not refer to the toiletries you use at home every day, but trial sizes of each item. You can usually find entire isles of trial / travel size products at your grocery store or local Target / Walmart / Walgreens / CVS. They are generally $1 or less each and there are often many different brands to choose from.
Fun In Your Own Backyard
Keep your road trip down to about 3-5 hours max. This lessens the stress levels for everyone, including the kids. Find fun spots in your own backyard.
First Aid Kits Need To Stay In The Car
Why Do You Travel Most of the Time?
When you travel about the country why do you do it?
Keep A First Aid Kit In Your Car
A first aid kit is always good to have at hand. Having one in the car at all times ensures that when you hit the road you're prepared. I recommend having two.
Trunk / Back Seat Kit -
This is a kit that has the things you won't need unless there's a serious emergency. Use this list as a guide to fill it.
- Rubbing alcohol
- Antibiotic ointment
- Antibacterial wet wipes
- Latex gloves + non-latex gloves
- Small paper bag
- Cold compress
- Compress dressings
Each of these items will come in handy for serious emergencies on the road. If you have them in the car all the time, you don't have to worry about packing them.
Inside Car Kit -
Put this in the glove compartment for common medical issues.
- Pain relief
- Motion sickness relief
- Allergy relief
- Stomach pain relief
- Antibacterial wipes
- Eye drops
Keep the kits up to date and filled at all times so it's less to think about when trying to get going.
Key To Pack Less And Still Be Prepared
2 pair jeans
1 pair sports shoes
1 pair slacks / skirt
1 pair street shoes / dress shoes
1 cardigan sweater
1 long sleeve shirt
1 pair shorts
Brochure Displays At Popular Highway Spots
Choosing Your Destination
When I used to take road trips on my own I let the wind carry me in the direction of my dreams. With kids I can't be so romantic. It works better to have a general idea of where you're going.
In order to find a suitable place to go, be attentive at gas stations and the most popular stops along highways. There you'll find entire kiosks holding free brochures for fun and adventure in nearby places. Collect them and keep them in your planning folder or a travel box. When you're itching to hit the road grab them and pick one to make it the focus of your getaway. They give you tons of pertinent info to use as a starting point to semi-plan your getaway.
Also, most Denny's have a stand in their entrance / lobby with free publications boasting all sorts of discounts and coupons on area hotels. The area covered in the booklets usually spans several counties and even a few states. Discounts on places to sleep can also be found on popular sites like tripadvisor.com, hotels.com, and visitortips.com.
The Open Road Is Calling...
Leave Between Rush Times
One thing that can shut down a fun vacation fast is heavy traffic or traffic jams. Of course, you want to avoid roads under construction, but another way to stay away from the traffic is to leave extremely early and use the less traveled road.
If your trip is really last minute and you get the notion to hit the road after breakfast wait until the morning rush is clear and then head out before the afternoon rush begins. When you're away from major cities this detail becomes less important. But be conscious of this so the kids have less chances to get restless.
New Is Not Always Necessary
If your travel budget doesn't call for spending cash on the new stuff, you don't have to spring for it. Here's a surefire way to get mileage out of what you already have.
- Wait until your kids are asleep or in school or outside playing.
- Grab some of their toys. Do NOT use their favorites for this because they'll miss them and look for them, maybe feeling a little sad. Just grab a few of the toys, books, and puzzles they like
- Fill the backpack, put it away.
- The next time you take a trip put the backpack on the back of the seats.
Your kids will feel as if they've found a sunken treasure because they haven't seen or played with them in so long.
Preoccupy Your Kids, Eliminate Stress and Risk
When I think of the open road I am consumed with the beauty of the countryside, the fascinating effect of catching a glimpse of wild horses, wondering how the family who runs this or that farm gets along. I am content to just sit in silence, conversate with my husband and kids, or listen to music or talk on the radio. It doesn't take much to make me happy on the road.
On the other hand, young children aren't always quite as excited about the simplicity in these things. Are you dreading the "are we there yet" syndrome while just reading this article? That's not because your kids are annoying or anything. They all do it. This is because at home your children have several choices they don't have on the road. They get to engage in free play and go outside to run, jump, and ride their own bikes and scooters. This means we need to be prepared to preoccupy their travel experience with enlightening activities that will stimulate their minds. We'll need to distract them from thinking about the long period of sitting time.
Just as you have a small bag with their toiletries in it, pre-pack a small backpack that you can hang on the back of the driver's and passenger's seats. It should be easily accessible to them and, unlike the toiletries bag, has to be refilled after every trip. I use discount and dollar stores to stock up.
List: puzzles, sketch books, a chapter book or two, a picture book or two, and a few brand new toys / gadgets in each backpack.
I use new because of the exploitation of time I get from it. When they see a new thing it's a big deal and this buys some time in itself. They circumspectly examine each new item and spend the first 10 or so minutes just getting used to it.
We once took a 2,300 mile trip in two directions. The kids were eager after gas stops and restroom breaks to get back in the car to continue exploring their new treasures. When it happens every time it's great because they look forward to the "road" part of the road trip, making it an enjoyable time for everybody.
Heavenly Beauty Calls...Answer With Freedom
© 2014 Shannon Powell