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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Travel tips?

Valiant Husband and I are veteran travelers--specifically--car travelers with kids.  We moved 8 hours away from family when we got out of college.  Most of the family is concentrated in one area and the rest visits regularly, so we learned early that we were the ones going home, not the other way around.

No problem.  We were young and full of energy.  (Ah, remember those days!?)  And then we had kids.

We developed strategies.  We drove all night when they were infants and toddlers.  They slept all night in their carseats and we took turns, so they were bright and happy on arrival and we were . . . not insane.  As they grew older we adjusted our techniques.  We were one of the first with a DVD player in the car...that Valiant Husband installed himself.  Gameboys were king--and saved for doctor's offices and long trips.  Books, once they were old enough to read.

I wish our kids were the type to play fun car license plate type games, but no--they are more the "Look there's the button that will one day destroy the world!" (This is shouted at least twice a year whenever we pass Pilot Mountain in NC--because it looks like a knob designed for some gigantic space alien or godlike deity)

We learned to pack snacks, and not to freak when they wanted beef jerky sticks from the gas station.  We learned to like fast food--on trips only.  In short, we relaxed our standards.  :-)

I've done a LOT of driving this year and we are going to do some more as we take the kids to Orlando. Eldest is a senior this year and I'm looking at this as our last car fling.

So, I'm looking for some more tips.  What do you guys do to ease the monotony on long car trips?  Any restaurant suggestions that will lure Youngest away from fast food?  Any games that jaded teenagers will play?  All suggestions welcome!


  1. Wow, Deb! I've got nothing. I think the longest car ride I've done with my son was from Raleigh to Richmond 2.5-3 hours depending on traffic. We used to go a couple times a month when my sister was in Virginia, since the rest of my family is either in Texas or the West Coast.

    Since my family is so far away, we always fly. My teen has been flying since he was 6months old (and is a great traveler - though he doesn't care for TSA either. What can I say? He is my son.)

    These days he travels with his ipad and any other electronic he can shove into his backpack, but I don't think that's what you're looking for.

    1. We are opposite travelers, Ava! Eldest hasn't been on a plane since he was little and I don't think Youngest has ever flown!

  2. Their iPhones are usually loaded with music and movies. Depending on length of trip we give everyone an hour of their music (we can plug in the phones into car system) and then proceed to make fun of my husband's choices. I act like I can't understand a word of my oldest daughter's 'angry' music and make up my own words. Has her laughing and rolling eyes.

    We make up stories round robin style or play truth or dare car style. (They LOVE hearing about our past - my husband and I were not perfect angels and the girls love to hear about it).

    My teens aren't big talkers so a little bit of this kind of stuff mixed in with everyone 'lost in their zone' makes a nice trip. I usually drive on trips due to car sickness but if there is too much fun going on in the car I tend to 'forget' I'm driving. (My other name is Easily Distracted!)

    I buy snacks I normally don't buy and try to find the craziest places to stop because stopping at a gas station shaped like a sombrero is something they will be telling their friends about!

    I hope your trip goes well.

    1. I know what you mean about the 'angry' music, Wendi! Eldest went through a --thankfully shortlived--screamo period. None of that over the speakers on a car trip! Although we do take turns sharing our newly found music sometimes. My kids have introduced me to some of my favorite new stuff--and I would never have found it without them.

  3. Deb,
    I hear ya on the car trips. My family lives 14 hours away, so we've done our fair share of driving with the kids. The last long trip with did with them last year we listened to comedy on Pandora radio. Our son was 14 and he loves comedy. That was a fun way to interact with him, too, because later we'd revive a joke at appropriate moments. We found prank phone calls that were hilarious. It's called Terrorizing Telemarketers.

    The kids like to watch movies too, so usually my husband watches with them while I drive. I get car sick in the backseat, so I'm better off driving.

    We used to buy snacks to take along, but the kids really like picking out snacks when we stop and it breaks up the monotony. We don't do fast food on trips. We always stop at a sit-down restaurant, because that gives us a break. I don't know what's in the area to suggest any restaurants. We also stop if something looks interesting, because my kids like to explore, especially our youngest who is 10. We've found some cool places and not so cool places, but it breaks up the trip.

    Oh! And I started this tradition when my kids were tiny and they still ask for it. I get gift bags and put little gifts in them and each time we cross a state line, they get a gift. It has become a lot more challenging now that they are older. I usually toss in a graphic novel for my son, a Google play card for his phone, a joke book like Calvin and Hobbs or funny street signs. When he has humorous stuff, he likes to share the jokes with us so it makes him more interactive.

    I hope you have a great trip!

    1. You are such a nice mom, Samantha! No way would I ever have though of the state line gift! :-) I'm such a meanie--I make them work for their stuff!

      I LOVE the idea of the comedy, though. That sounds just up their alley. Thanks for the tip!

  4. We took many, many car trips when I was growing up. Even though they were all in Texas, we had family all over the state--and Texas is a very big state. When we went to Grandma and Grandpa's house, it was often a 14-hour ordeal...with five kids...a decade apart from youngest to oldest. Yeah. It wasn't fun. LOL.

    Back then, we mainly had books (coloring books for the younger kids) to entertain us, and that was it. We'd play license plate and billboard and slugbug games sometimes. Most of that doesn't seem like it would appeal to the modern teenager. :/

    1. LoL, we had to ban slugbug in our car. Too much over zealous slugging. I'll bet you're not surprised! :-)

  5. There is no hope I'm sorry. I should know I drove to Cali with my two kids. One gets carsick and the other just gets bored now. I feel like the bus drive on South Park. Plus, the areas I drive in there is a lot of nothing. So, movies and books.

  6. LOL, Melody, you crack me up! I'm so sorry, that move was a doozy for you, wasn't it? But you do have me thanking my lucky stars that neither gets carsick. That would not be good...