When I was a kid I took more road trips with my grandparents than you can shake a stick at, so I'm no stranger to the open road. I remember stopping at what seemed like every roadside attraction along the way from California to South Dakota- priceless memories. I was excited about creating these kind of memories with my own children. Mind you, the furthest we have driven with the kids is 130 miles to San Diego AND there are three of them so I would have to be a bit more creative with distractions.
My first stop was Target's $1 section where I found these great neck and lumbar pillows ($2.50 each) for the kids to keep them comfortable on the long ride. They came in four fun colors that they had fun picking out.
Next I stopped by Whole Foods for some of our favorite snacks. I knew there was no Whole Foods where we were going and I wanted to make sure there was something we would all eat. I grabbed Newman's Own Organics Honey Wheat Pretzels (yum! and pretty mess-free for the car), Eternal Artesian Water (my favorite- the bottles are BPA-Free), Kopali organic dried mangos (we all love these) and fresh fruit to eat.
Lastly, entertainment! I loaded up the iPad with family-friendly movies like Gulliver's Travels and Jumanji. We also brought the kids' Nintendo DS handheld games. I love the fact that they link up to one another and play together. But I didn't want them totally imersed in electronics the whole trip so I also took to the internet in search of road trip themed printable games and puzzles to help occupy their time. The best website I found was Mom's Mini Van where I found printable Road Trip Bingo, tongue twisters and some great travel tips by age group.
Thanks to great planning, the trip was a success! We drove straight through in about 18 hours each way (including stops to gas up). There was mininal backseat bickering which made the trip that much more enjoyable for my husband and I. We had a great time meeting the family and would definitely do it again!
A couple of tips from our experience:
- Take the opportunity to stretch and excercise when you stop for gas. We may have looked a little silly doing jumping jacks on our breaks but it got the blood flowing which helped keep us awake and also kept us from getting cramped muscles.
- Do use online tools like Gas Buddy to estimate the cost of fueling your road trip ahead of time, and Yahoo Maps as a backup for tech tools like iPhone Maps. I experienced a problem with roaming around New Mexico that made me feel hesitant to use AT&T data services so I was glad we had a hard map to rely on.