You know it's coming, and you know that once it starts, it may never end. It's the dreaded, "Are we there yet?" whine coming from the back seat. There are things you can do to keep your precious darlings occupied on a car trip. All it takes is some strategic planning and packing. Here are a few tips from about.com and the AOL travel Web site:
Be brutally honest with yourself. The younger your children are, the less time they are able to tolerate sitting in a car. Remember that a couple of hours can seem like an eternity for a toddler—and for you if your toddler's unhappy.
Think safety first. That means car seats and safety belts, and never leaving your kids in the car without you.
Bring snacks. A long car trip is not the time to insist on snacks that only you want to give the kids. It won't undo a lifetime of good eating habits to give your cranky child another juice box or cookie—just this once. Pack the healthy stuff and some favorite treats for emergencies.
Let the DVD help with the baby-sitting chores. You'll be grateful to get 30 minutes or a couple of hours of peace.
If your kids complain of nausea or dizziness, chances are they're car sick, which can be easily cured by getting out of the car and walking around a bit. Avoid it by having kids focus on the outdoors instead of inside the car. Effective OTC drugs are available, but always consult with your child's pediatrician before giving them to your children.
Pack for each child to avoid fights. If everyone has their own crayons, for example, no one need share the red one.
Bring car games and songs. MomsMinivan.com has great ideas for kids of all ages.
Bring an emergency potty—well worth it if you're faced with an "I gotta go NOW!" dilemma.
by Ronni Mott
Trust me. There's nothing worse than your car breaking down at 2 a.m. on an unfamiliar stretch of road. Who needs it? Before setting out on that long road trip, make sure your wheels are road-worthy. TripSmarter suggests checking all of these:
Fluids: oil, plus transmission, power steering and brake fluids
Tires: check the pressure and unusual wear
Windshield wipers and wiper fluid
Lights: headlights, high beams, tail lights, emergency hazard lights, backing lights, and turn signals
Children's car seats
Also, make sure you pack a bag for your car. Here's what you'll need: a container of tap water, a couple of screwdrivers (Phillips and regular, non-alcoholic), pliers or an adjustable wrench, a serviceable spare tire (along with a can of Fix-A-Flat and a bike pump, just in case), a lug wrench, jack and hubcap key, jumper cables, duct tape (useful in so many ways), a knife, an extra fuse or two and an air pressure gauge.
Virtual Road Trips
by Ronni Mott
These days, the Internet is full of great sites for road trippers. You can get everything from games for the munchkins in the back seat, to directions that avoid the interstates, taking the "scenic routes" instead. Here are a few that I've come across lately:
Road Trip America has too much stuff to list, including resources for getting work while motoring cross-country (check under "dashboarding"), unusual destinations, safety tips and much more.
The Independent Traveler is designed for folks who travel without the help of an agent or guide. Their pages cover the world, but there are plenty of tips for road trippers.
Free Trip gives driving directions with a couple of twists. Select "favor scenic routes" as a preference, and the directions will avoid interstates when possible. You can also select to show accommodations by price (economy to luxury) and camp grounds and parks on your route.
Mom's Minivan is a great site for anyone traveling with kids. The site has games you can download, plus ideas for traveling with babies, and a host of other cool stuff for moms and dads.
The Travel Insider is another mega-site with great info, including luggage and tour reviews. The site has an excellent section of resources for single travelers and another for road warriors.
Adventurous Wench is devoted to travel for active women. With tours from New York to Patagonia and Tuscany, you'll also find stylish Wench wear and gear—even a t-shirt for the poochette.
Hubcaps in the Hub City
by Herman Snell
A degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg comes with a compulsion for road tripping. With highways exiting the Hub City in every direction, it is 90 miles to New Orleans, Mobile, Meridian or Jackson. One can wake up at noon, hit the latest indie film at Canal Place Theatre in New Orleans for the 3 p.m. screening, have dinner and drinks at the Acme Oyster Bar, followed by a show at the House of Blues. You can be back in bed in the 'Burg by 2 a.m.
Wham, bam, shake and repeat.
When you're 40 all those ticket stubs you've been harboring will be evidence to your kids that you were once cool.
Tips to Trip By
by Ronni Mott
You did it again… packed everything but the phone charger. And the budget's too tight to buy a new one. What to do? Have your hotel check their lost and found stuff; phone chargers are the number-one item left behind in hotel rooms.
What's the one thing most often left at gas stations? Gas caps. If you lose yours, ask the clerk at the next station. Chances are they have a box full of left-behind caps, one of which may be just the fit you need.
The ASPCA Web site (aspca.org) suggests taking Fido for a few short trips to get him acclimated to the car before trying a long road trip. Check the site for additional travel tips.
Make sure to pack a phone cord and extra battery for your laptop. There's nothing more frustrating than needing a connector or a charge on the road when neither WiFi or a plug are in sight.
What Me? Worry?
For long road trips, give a trusted friend a list of your debit and credit cards, along with the toll-free customer service numbers. If you lose your wallet, you'll be able to cancel or replace the cards easily.
- Thank y'all. I'm picking up the grandkids this evening and heading to Atlanta. They're 7 year old twins. I hope I won't have to kill one of both of them this weekend for being bad, restless and hard-headed before returning their bad behinds to the parents. I love them though.
- Ray Carter
- Ray, don't end up on the news because you strapped the babies to the roof of your car. :-P
- Game Boys work wonders. On our last two trips to Kentucky, we only heard from our daughter when she was hungry, thirsty or had to go. Our son enjoyed looking out the window as well.
Emergency potty. I need to remember that. Last trip back, our son had to go to the bathroom right after we passed through Tupelo. There is nothing except fields and cows between Tupelo and West Point. NOTHING. There are a few exits, but nothing off of them for miles. I remember seeing the sign for Egypt, and thought, "Ah! Civilization! There must be a bathroom here!" Well, whoever put up that sign, Egyp'd them out of a bathroom. I thought our son was going to explode. He was asking if he could ask the cows to borrow their field.
- Lady Havoc
- Did you go up the Natchez Trace? It's pretty country, but it can be a long, boring one, especially with kids in tow.
- golden eagle
- Oh, of course! We alternate between the Trace, I-55 to 51 in Memphis and the Parkway system in Kentucky, to I-20-I-65. We all love the Trace. Our children are old enough to appreciate its beauty. We have some beautiful photos from our last trip up the Trace.
Even coming back this time, we took 78 from Athens, AL to the Trace, and took the Trace from there to Tupelo. It's the most direct way to where we go, even if it is the slowest.
- Lady Havoc