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Low Stress Getaway With Kids

Updated on May 22, 2014

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

Wearing makeup on vacation is not my thing. I don't want any extra responsibilities so I don't wear it for road trips or any vacates. But, if you do, be sure to include it in your kit.
Wearing makeup on vacation is not my thing. I don't want any extra responsibilities so I don't wear it for road trips or any vacates. But, if you do, be sure to include it in your kit.

Pack It And Leave It With Your Go To Suitcase

Pack all the toiletries you need and put them in or near the suitcases you take on short trips. I let my hubby pack his own so I don't leave anything out, but I pretty much know what the kids are going to use. I give each of them their own case.
Pack all the toiletries you need and put them in or near the suitcases you take on short trips. I let my hubby pack his own so I don't leave anything out, but I pretty much know what the kids are going to use. I give each of them their own case.

Travel Ready

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

  • soap
  • lotion (regular and sunscreen)
  • deodorant
  • vaseline
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • comb
  • brush

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

show route and directions
A markerPhoenix, Arizona -
1125 North 3rd Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85003, USA
get directions

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.

B markerTombstone, Arizona -
223 East Toughnut Street, Tombstone, AZ 85638, USA
get directions

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?

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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.

  • Flashlight
  • Blanket
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Peroxide
  • Band-Aids
  • Guaze
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Antibacterial wet wipes
  • Latex gloves + non-latex gloves
  • Small paper bag
  • Cold compress
  • Hydrocortisone
  • 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
  • Band-Aids
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Thermometer
  • Eye drops
  • Q-tips

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

Tops
Bottoms
Footwear
Outerwear
2 t-shirts
2 pair jeans
1 pair sports shoes
1 jacket
1 sweater
1 pair slacks / skirt
1 pair street shoes / dress shoes
1 cardigan sweater
1 long sleeve shirt
1 pair shorts
 
1 coat
Your last minute trip may include something like a nice dinner out or a puppet show. Be sure to prepare for that. The climate may also be 10 degrees above or below yours. Anticipate that as you pack as well.

Brochure Displays At Popular Highway Spots

Check for brochures in popular highway exits and rest stops and take them home.
Check for brochures in popular highway exits and rest stops and take them home.

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...

Be sure your location is not too close, but not too far away.
Be sure your location is not too close, but not too far away.

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

Try to travel slowly, stopping to enjoy the scenery along the way.
Try to travel slowly, stopping to enjoy the scenery along the way.

© 2014 Shannon Powell

What special things do you do to make last minute road tripping easier?

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    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 3 years ago from Idaho

      Wonderful information for any parent that loves to travel. I love the idea for the new things from the dollar store for kids. I also have great memories as a child, of singing songs, playing games with the whole family. My mom was a genius at keeping us entertained.

    • rebekahELLE profile image

      rebekahELLE 3 years ago from Tampa Bay

      Another wonderful hub! I can tell you're an educator by your well-organized, thorough, interesting articles. This is perfect for those traveling with young ones. I recall many family vacations while growing up. They can leave wonderful, long-lasting memories. Well done!