Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year - traveling with kids

Here it is, the new year, 2009! It is hard to believe a whole year has gone by. It seems like just the other day I was nursing a baby and waiting for hubby to email or call from Iraq. He's been home a year, the baby is now 2 and my oldest is getting ready for college. WOW!! So many new things have happened in the last 12 months like my 6 year old reading a chapter book. She has fallen in love with the adventures of Ruby Gloom by Rebbecca McCarthy and my teen girl who avoided reading anything is now addicted to reading. I never thought I'd hear myself saying, "put that book down!" The two year old is repeating everything he hears and that's just scary sometimes. It's amazing how much language development there is between 2 and 3 years old. I love it!

Some things we learned during our vacation-- we drove from the Virginia Peninsula to New Jersey - midway up the state. On the way back we hit Pennsylvania, Delaware and Northern VA. We learned that:

--some people don't realize their showers don't work because the kids never complain and the adults never use that particular bathroom. We used several showers and had many different sleeping arrangements along the way. The showers went from a trickling drip out of the shower head to a shower with uncontrollable temperature to the best one which was a strong, perfectly warm, long lasting shower. You never know what's coming so be prepared to skip a shower if necessary - carry lots of personal wipes :-)

--it is best to force kids to use the bathroom before a long drive or you will be making many stops, sometimes, one per child...grrr!

--packing the makings for a meal is more cost effective and takes up a bit of time if stuck in traffic - so we pack a soft cooler with peanut butter, jelly, apple sauce, fresh fruit, drinks, snacks a butter knife and a small cutting board to prepare lunch on the go. The meal is fresh and nothing goes to waste.

--pack lots of books, magazines, crayons, coloring books, etc. Reading is a great way to pass the time.

--charge all electronics (DVD players, car games, iPods, cell phones, etc) a day before the trip and keep extra batteries and a small screw driver in the car for toys that require them, just in case.

--a GPS unit is a really good thing to have when you want to avoid massive traffic jams or at least to find a detour in the event of unforeseen traffic jams. We borrowed one and it saved us a good four hours.

--finally, it is important to be realistic and tell the kids how long the ride will be. If they don't really understand the concept of time, create a game in advance to help them count down the hours, i.e. draw a clock on construction paper and put an x on the clock number for every hour that passes then you'll know how many are left to go.

I hope these tips will help others planning to go on the road. I would love to hear from you and what tricks help you when traveling with children or just to keep you busy on the road.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! My trip isn't over, going home today {{sigh}}.