I promised a friend that I would write up my road trip post before she embarks on one. So, here it is, my Ultimate List of LONG Road Trip Suggestions. We traveled 3,685 miles in our Honda Accord with our 3 1/2 year old and 21 month old…. without a DVD player. We could have accessed one. However, Andrew felt that if they had it, they would just whine whenever it wasn’t on. This is probably true. If you are brave enough to go without, it actually weans your children off TV quite effectively to be in the car for days without it. So, here are my lists. The first one is the “non-negotiable, do whatever you need to do to have these items” list. The second one is full of helpful suggestions that you may be able to replace with something else.
List One: Non-Negotiables
-AAA membership (for those drive-in-a-blizzard-and-run-off-the-road-into-a- snow-bank times… when you have to be towed. If you have good car insurance, you may be able to just use that to be reimbursed for the tow truck. However, check beforehand to understand your coverage. I’m speaking from experience here, people.)
–Earplugs- It just takes the edge off of the screaming children. Trust me.. get them BEFORE you need them. They will be much more comfortable than the Starbucks napkins we balled up and stuffed in our ears. Sadly, even Flying J doesn’t carry earplugs!
–Small cooler- Stuff it on the floor behind the driver’s seat so the passenger can access snacks (string cheese, apples, drinks to put in spill-proof cups…)
–Books on tape/CD/ipod– We enjoyed several of the Narnia Series books. Listening to them was delightful- a highlight of the road trip. Make sure you choose things that you will enjoy along with your children. Mrs. Pigglewiggle is a funny one Ruth and I are loving lately, too. You can also buy audio books on itunes, in case you didn’t know.
-Tylenol & Ibuprofen Adult and Children varieties.
-Window Shades for Back seat (come in two-pack in baby aisles at Target)
List Two: Recommended, but not Essential (can be substituted with other stuff)
-Cheap cookie sheet to function as tray- This will minimize the losing of toys and books and markers. You can put fun magnets on it. It worked well with the 3 1/2 year old. It didn’t work so well with the 21 month old. He just used it as a weapon…. or instrument. Occasionally he was entertained for long periods by driving a matchbox car on it.
–Cheap new toys and a plastic bin to keep them in. Pipe cleaners to make shapes, letters, chains, etc. $1 Matchbox cars. Library books (bonus if they match the book on tape… but be careful, it’s easy to lose them!). No mess clear Crayola markers that color on special paper to make a color (this is a splurge). Sticker book with LOTS of pages and stickers (even more worth-it than the markers and found in Book and/or Toy section). Mini Suction-cup covered balls (found with party favors, a BIG hit.)
-Costco size snacks to keep in trunk- We used two big shallow storage containers in the trunk. In one we kept bulk diapers and wipes. In the other, we kept snacks from Costco. We had crackers, Asian pears, apples, string cheese (which didn’t spoil b/c it was cold outside), fruit snacks, Lunchables, drinks and copious amounts of plastic baggies. This made it nice because we had some fresher options when fast food and gas station snacks sounded gross. (Note: SuperTarget has a lower fat 10g Lunchable available now, as opposed to 18g)
-Plastic Placemat Map & Dry Erase Marker This is something I wished I could have given Ruth while I looked at the big Road Atlas (also essential). I couldn’t find one at Target.
To save money, ask around and borrow what you can, but only if people are okay if it doesn’t come home….