Monday, July 2, 2012

Surviving a Road Trip With Kids

Whew! It has been a long few weeks, but I am finally getting back to writing! Our family went on vacation to Idaho a couple of weeks ago. When you have a family with food sensitivities, in addition to one on a whole foods diet, vacations end up looking quite a bit different than the typical eat out as you go vacations. After all of the menu planning, grocery shopping, food preparation, packing and other things that went into our vacation I sincerely needed another break to recover from all of the work :). But it was soooo worth it. We had a great time and made many beautiful memories! 

Our Idaho vacation involved a 6-7 hour car trip each way. We have done a few car trips with the kids over the years, and thankfully they have all gone really well. Of course we have had the occasional kerfuffle, like Joel getting overheated and throwing up in the car (note to self: keep air conditioning on in the back of the car during road trips!), but our kids for the most part are awesome travelers. I am sure most of it is just good fortune (and a lot of prayer!). However there are a few things we have done to try to make the road traveled a bit smoother. So in memory of our wonderful trip I thought I would share our travelling tips!

Have Plenty For Them To Do

I am sure most parents already do this, but every time we travel we make sure the kids bring a backpack on the trip loaded with activities they will enjoy doing. A day or two before we leave I have the kids bring me their packs and choose their favorite coloring books, reading books and toys. We just stuff their packs as full as possible. I give them each a ziplock bag with their own crayons or colored pencils for easy access. I don't allow markers in the car. For our 3 year old Erik I keep his bag in a place where I can access it so I can pass toys back to him. I need a pretty good pile of things since he tends to drop things along the way. Oh, and I must not forget that they also have their favorite blankets and stuffed animals with them to keep them occupied! One must never travel without those :)!

Snacks, Snacks and More Snacks

I think this is the key to our travelling success. I give the kids several bags of snacks and keep them eating throughout the whole trip. This helps in two ways. Number one it negates the need to stop for lunch or dinner because instead of stopping to eat we just snack through our meals in the car. But this also keeps the kids sooo happy. Whenever they start getting really bored or stir crazy we let them dig into another snack bag. For this trip I did the same basic things on both the way there and the way back. We had organic green smoothies (loaded with calories to fill the kiddos up) in their stainless steel straw cups, carrot sticks, lunch meat slices, grapes, popcorn, and these homemade granola bars as well as a banana each. (For the granola bars I did slightly less honey, which made them a bit crumbly, and I also used soaked and dehydrated nuts & seeds). I also had large bottles of water for them to keep them hydrated. I found that I had just enough food to last for our 6 hour trip. If we had a longer drive I definitely would have needed more food bags!

Family Quiet Time With Video Reward

Because we still have young nappers in our family we need to have a time of quiet in the car so they can sleep. We usually keep it to about an hour and as a helpful incentive they can watch a short video in the car afterward. We are NOT normally bribe advocates, but I think that car trips can qualify as an exception to the rule. We usually do this toward the end of the trip, as we try to keep the video watching to a minimum. I also save their favorite snack for the video time. So if you wanted to try this out but don't have a DVD player in the car you could just use a special snack as a reward.

We didn't do this on our last trip, but in the past we have played games like rock, paper scissors and I-Spy or we have sung songs (singing Christmas carols together is so fun if you are travelling around the holidays). As far as keeping baby happy goes, I don't have much of a strategy. We just pray a lot and hope for the best. Thankfully our baby James is located in the very center of the car and I think he was just so happy to be with the whole family that he was content for the majority of the trip. I had plenty of pacifiers handy and a bag full of toys and small board books to pass back to him though.

So for those of you with young kiddos, what are your strategies for keeping the kids occupied in the car? For those of you without kids, what do you do to keep yourself content during a long car ride? I would love to hear your thoughts! Oh, and if you want a grain free granola bar, you really should try out that recipe I put up the link for. It really is yummalicious!

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