17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hitting the Road

For all of our married life, we have lived a little too far from family to seriously consider driving to see them. Last summer, though, we moved to Minnesota and found that most people here do drive west for vacations. We decided that we would try it this summer to see how the kids do. So, on Friday and Saturday we will be driving from here to Denver. Then, we will go on to Montana, and finally after about three weeks total, we will head back home. 2 small kids, 7 states, 3,000 miles. What should we do with all that time in the car?

I have been gathering ideas and laying plans for a while now to prevent all of us from deteriorating into family vacation beasties. We have the portable DVD player, but I want to limit the time my kids are watching movies. Instead of a non-stop movie fest, we have specific times they can watch (after lunch, for example), with a time-boxed length; also, I think we might use the movies as incentives for good behavior.

I ordered in about 10 audio books from the library, so we'll try a lot of new ones out. By the way, I just found out that Stockard Channing (of Grease and West Wing fame) has narrated all the Beverly Clearly Ramona books.

A friend suggest collecting items from the dollar store--things that we can throw out at the end of the trip. We can wrap them and dole them out every 100 miles or so. I think that the glow sticks will be a big hit as it starts to get dark. Garage sales have also proved to be good sources of cheap trinkets.

In order to preempt sibling squabbles, I am going to pack two backpacks with identical goods. The backpacks will be strapped to the front seats in our mini-vans, just in front of the kids for easy access. I haven't decided exactly what to put in them, aside from crayons, coloring supplies, and their travel notebooks.

The travel notebooks was another idea from a mom with lots of road miles under the family belt. I found some great websites with state information. Each kid gets coloring pages with the flag, bird, and flower for each state we will be driving through. (It turns out that the western meadowlark is a common state bird--4 of 7 of the states we are driving through chose it to represent their state. Who knew?) My older child gets a state map for each state, where she can write and draw about what she sees. They will also get to collect postcards from each state to put in their binders. We'll have a way of keeping track of license plates that we see, put some travel stickers in there, and also include a map of the full US to draw out our route as we go. Finally, we'll bring along Our 50 States by Lynne Cheney, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser (who also illustrated some of our favorites--Fancy Nancy and You Can't Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Musuem) that will give us some interesting state specific information and pictures.

Even with these plans, I wonder what other tricks we can have up our sleeves. So, with only a couple of days left before we depart, I am wondering what you have done to make it through long road trips. Ideas, anyone??


  • That sounds so fun for your family! Sounds like you have a lot of very good ideas. I have never gone on a long road trip with kids so I'll be interested to see the comments. Off the top of my head I think bring some interesting snacks that either are their favorites, or something they've never had before. And maybe some kind of fun water bottles or something.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 6/13/2007 01:27:00 PM  

  • We are also in Minnesota and even though we went West last summer, this year we are going east - Ohio and Washington D.C.

    We make sure to stop and see oddities and do factory tours. Basically take a little more time and see the weird stuff, that is what the kids remember. Also take a lot of photographs. We put the 300 or so we took in a simple scrapbook and the kids still love it, including the picture of our only puking incident on California's highway 1. Too save money we bought a lot of bread and sandwich meat at grocery store deli's.

    To pass the time we had their gameboys, handheld games, and walkmans (these were really popular). We also got headphone splitters so they could share.

    Anyway, we have 5 kids (14 through 5), one minivan, and 2 weeks.

    David M.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 6/13/2007 01:39:00 PM  

  • When I was little we drove to Utah a bajillion times. My brothers and I always looked forward to the pit stops where my mom gave us lots of physical activity while my dad was gassing up the car (race to that dumpster, who can do 100 jumping jacks the fastest, run around the building twice). Since we had been sitting for so long it was fun to have races and things.
    We also did lots of audio books. And travel/memory games (I went to the store and bought apples, next person:I went to the store and bought apples and berries...go through the entire alphabet) Good luck! Sounds like quite an adventure!
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 6/13/2007 02:15:00 PM  

  • If you are going to visit family, you could tell stories about the family. "When I was growing up, Grandpa Joe and I..."
    "Or Aunt Stacie's favorite food is..."
    "What do you remember about Cousin Jeff?"

    Use the time to teach about the natural surroundings or geography. We used to go from Az to Utah, and my mom would tell us about igneous and sedimentary rocks, and ask us to look for examples. Telling us about how the mountains were formed, why there were differnt types of plants.

    You could also do history, etc.

    I would limit the water/soda/juice. Not so much that they get dehydrated or otherwise, but so they don't have to stop every hour.
    posted by Anonymous Ola Senor at 6/13/2007 02:54:00 PM  

  • I just thought of a random game my mom used to play with me & my sister when we would take road trips to Pennsylvania. She would have us count all the cows we would see while we were driving (there are a lot in PA I guess), and we would "earn" a penny for every cow. Then when we would stop at a rest stop or cool gift store we could buy something with our pennies. It would only be about $1.00 or so, but still it was fun. And you wouldn't have to count cows, just whatever you see when driving west.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 6/13/2007 03:11:00 PM  

  • My kids favorite thing to do on the 28 hour road trip from Georgia to Utah is play the "Thinking Game" - We first choose a theme - like disney characters, animals or holidays and then I give them clues like - its a girl, there are mice in this movie, the girl is sad, she carries a teddy bear with her, she has to go into a dark cave - the first one to say Penny from The Rescuers wins and then its their turn to give the clues. When the younger kids are asleep we choose themes like the States & Countries. It's also fun to choose things that you see out the window like the clouds, mountains, cows, corn or even family members your going to visit. Its a game that everyone can play. Have fun!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 6/13/2007 05:22:00 PM  

  • I'm in montana! :) COme visit, most likely I'll be at the scrapping store in Hamilton, LOL!! ;) Seriously- Nathan did awesome on road trips- and you have great ideas already! Empty water/soda bottles helped my 3yr old with the "I gotta pee" every 15 minutes. Ha ha!
    posted by Blogger Frog Thinks at 6/13/2007 06:04:00 PM  

  • One more game we played on the way back, that is to say after we spent some time on the beach on Oregon, we told the kids whoever saw the first car with Minnesota tags would get $5.00 to spend in a gift shop. My little girl, the other 4 are boys, finally won the prize while we were in Montana. She pick out a little necklace in a Sturgis gift shop. Simple game and kept the kids on something outside of the car and each other.

    David M.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 6/14/2007 06:11:00 AM  

  • Sounds like you have some great ideas! I'm going to file those away until our next roadtrip.

    I just finished a book that said how having DVD players in cars has caused this generation of children to not learn the "lay of the land". They don't see what falls between towns, they don't learn what America looks like from point A to point B. Reading that, it brought up my own childhood trips from CA to UT. I knew the I-15 route so well. I knew when my favorite parts were coming (the winding part through the beautiful Arizona rocks) and when the funny sign was coming up which made me laugh every time (Zzyzzx Road).

    I also realized that my children aren't noticing these same things because they can't peel their eyes away from the movie they are watching. Planning times for movies like you mentioned is such a great idea.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 6/14/2007 08:00:00 AM  

  • One of my favorite games was looking for license plates from different states - keep track of how many you see and from where.

    Slug bug - a classic.

    I am a big map person, so I would follow along our destination and let everyone know what city/town was coming up next.

    To save money, we always had an ice chest in the van (next to one of the sliding doors) that we kept drinks and food in.
    posted by Anonymous Amy at 6/14/2007 08:43:00 AM  

  • Here's my two cents in it all:
    I had an exprience where I travel with my young son and newborn. I was heading home with my mother in law in a long 10 drive. I gave my son crayons and he spilled them. I didn't find one in the seat and it melted all over the seat. Although it was an accident, not a good thing. My suggestion would be using colored pencils instead just in case one gets lost in the car somewhere
    posted by Blogger Kristen at 6/14/2007 02:24:00 PM  

  • What about fun kid music cd's? Maybe you could even check some out from the library if you're on a budget. We had this thing calle "The Family Car Songbook" when I was growing up...just a bunch of old classic/folk pieces and we would sing from that. It was lots of fun. It sounds like you have lots of great ideas already. I love the backpack idea! Have a great trip!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 6/14/2007 06:39:00 PM  

  • I don't have time to make a detailed comment, but thanks for all your ideas! I've added a lot of them to our stash of plans.
    posted by Blogger Michelle at 6/15/2007 06:56:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home