Wednesday, July 30, 2014

On the Road Again! Summer Vacation Roadtrip

Since we have thus far survived our family road trips, both domestic and international, we are setting out another one this summer. Starting at our home in Maryland, we are heading north for about a fortnight.

When I tell people these are my vacation plans, the response in return is often a quizzical, "Really?" I know - how crazy to think logging a couple hundred miles with four kids in a car is some kind of idea of fun. So, let me say - I do realize that it will not be all peaches and ice cream (though, there will be a fair share of that.) There will be some fussing, arguing, and tears, from me included, but by the end, we'll have another collection of memorie, everyone will appreciate their own bed, and, if we're lucky, the kids will have figured out the Rhode Island is not an island, Boston is a city, and Canada is a whole 'nother country.

But while I get going, here's answers to a few  of the questions I've been asked about our journey.

What do we do to stay entertained in the car for that long?
That is the pain of road trips, right? What are you going to do to keep everyone from throwing someone else out the window?  For many, electronic gadgets and in-car videos are the obvious answer. Though I don't have in-car screens, the kids do have some electronics, but I try to limit their screen time, even in the car. Then we turn to the old-fashioned favorites - singing contests, look outside & find/ Eye Spy/ scavenger hunt type games, and audiobooks.

For the scavenger hunt, give the kids a list of things to find looking out of their window. Make it as easy or hard as you like, depending on the age of the kids and how long you want this to last. Our first list included items like 2 people on a motorcycle together, a person in a costume, a church, an animal, other than a bird, and a landmark.  Buried in a video game, I bet no-one would've even noticed the dog training center and might've missed the Statue of Liberty.

We checked out a pile of audiobooks from the library. I usually let the kids pick them out themselves - it's best if they all agree, or at least 2 so there's not a carload of pouty faces. This time, I also picked a couple from the adult shelves in case there's a leg or two whe everyone is sleep but me, i.e., the driver.
Do you stop and eat?
In between destination cities, I actually try to limit the stops for meals, though I will pull over in a second for a fruit stand or ice cream shop. Meals on the road can add up (dollar-wise) and take up time. Since I don't like long drives, I don't like stopping for long meals. I try to keep the cooler packed with lunch meat, cheese sticks, fruit, boiled eggs, and juices, as well as breakfast-type foods, too - cereal, granola bars, milk boxes, for the days we're out early.
At our destinations, I try to pick hotels with breakfast included. It's so much easier (and less expensive) to get kids down an elevator, fed and out for the day, than getting out and then having to find breakfast.
How do you pack for all those people?
I try to minimize the number of bags we have to carry into the hotels, since the kids and I will already have our backpacks and tote bags and the cooler. This go round, I've got all of our clothes packed in two large suitcases. I split all of our clothes, putting half of everyone's clothes in each bag, that way, when I check in, I only have to bring in one suitcase and the toiletry bag.
In the toiletry bag, I have  all of our personal grooming stuff - shampoo, condition, body wash, toothpaste, etc. Although hotels do provide the basics, it's not enough for five people. Plus, with sensitive skin and hair issues, I like to have my own products for a long trip, at various hotels.
Really? This is vacation?
If we were home, we'd spend the summer laying around the house, every now and then going out to the zoo or local museum or catching a movie, sleeping in, fussing about watching too much TV and going outside more. Why not take all this excitement on the road?

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