Aren't road trips the best? For weeks before a vacation, I envision the fun of packing up the family vehicle, everyone smiling, as we drive down the road, leaving our cares behind us for the next several days. We have our route planned out, we've remembered to pack everything, and it's pretty much picture-perfect right down to the cute luggage and my perfectly-polished toes.
I've personally had me and the kiddos bags packed for almost two weeks. I'm BEYOND ready to hit the beach! This will be our first family beach vacation. . .jumping waves, building sandcastles, collecting seashells, late night talks on the patio listening to the ocean tide. . .I cannot imagine a more perfect week! (Can you tell I'm pumped?!) There's only one problem. . . South Padre Island is 13 hours away. Let me say it again, THIRTEEN FREAKIN HOURS in the car with two toddlers who can barely get along in our own living room for 5 minutes. The thought of being trapped in a moving metal box with them for that long rates right up there with terrorist torture techniques, I'm sure of it. Which is why we've never braved this massive feat before. We were scared we wouldn't make it to said destination alive. No matter how many times I envision the perfect road trip situation, I have my doubts as to the amount of sheer desperation I will feel as we finally pull up to the condo on Monday afternoon. Because as high as my hopes are for this family road trip, I also am well aware that 750 miles down the road, 2 fighting toddler boys, and dozens of spilled slushies later, I'm bound to look a bit more like this. . .
I know, scary, right?!
Whatever I do, I am intent on not turning into Momzilla and ruining this vacation for everyone. I've researched for weeks, gathered resources and advice from other moms I know in the "road-trippin biz" and have compiled a whole bag of activities to keep these little monsters busy and from stealing me of my sanity. I've decided to share them with you, and will do a follow-up post prior to vaca to let you know how we all fared this adventure. After it's all said and done, the only advice I may have for you in the end is bring a pink flask full of Malibu and musician certified ear plugs. But for now, here are the plans I have for surviving our first family roadtrip:
Let's Talk Snacks:
If it's one thing I don't want to spend money on, it's JUNK at every single gas stop. I found this idea on Pinterest. It's a snack kit, made from a school supply organizer. Pick out all your kids favorite small snacks and fill it up. One thing we are doing in addition is bringing a mini ice chest full of ziploc bags of refridgerated snack foods, such as: bite-sized cantelope slices, blueberries, baby carrots, grapes, juice boxes, sliced cucumbers, and mini lunchables. All these healthy snacks should make it the whole 13 hour trip. We'll stock up at a Wal-Mart and replenish for the trip back home as well!
Let's Talk Technology:
As far as entertainment for the kids, my favorite is the TV. I know---totally original, and a big parenting faux pas. But, I personally think that the person who invented a way to put TV's in vehicles that kids can use with headphones deserves to have a day named in their honor. I love this person, whomever they are. And just for the record, I'm not a fan of TV watching at home all day. I try to limit it when I can, but boy is it helpful! When kids are trapped in a car anyway, the TV becomes one of the best inventions known to moms. Also, we've loaded up the kids ipod with about 50 games (most free actually) that they have access to at different times on the road trip. The use of both of these items may just save my sanity!
Let's Talk Activities:
DVD Coloring Case-
This was an idea that I found on Pinterest! How convenient! Take a DVD case and cut blank pages of paper to keep on one side, then store colored pencils in the other side for a quick and easy way to allow the kids to do one of their favorite things. My kiddos want to draw or color every single day. I'm so excited to try this idea on the roadtrip.
This is something that I never would have thought of for the car! Another Pinterest find! I bought a couple of bags of multi-colored pipe cleaners and plan to let the boys (especially the kindergartener) practice their alphabet using them. What a cool way to keep them busy, have no mess to clean up, and provide some educational stimulation in the car! It's a win/win!
Road Trip Bingo-
Let me just admit that my homemade bingo cards didn't turn out nearly this cool. So I found the mock-up I found online to post for you. You're welcome. I don't think you would have been able to decipher my "cow" or "gas station" symbols. Hopefully, the kids will. I just love this idea! I laminated my cards and am letting the kids use a dry erase marker to mark off each item they see as we drive along. I also brought little Dollar Store toys for them to win when they get a bingo. I think we'll really h ave fun with this one!
I hope my kiddos aren't like me when they attempt to read in the car. I get sooooo motion sick! But I've brought a ton of books (a few new) for them to enjoy on the way down and back. My 5-year-old loves looking at each page and making up the story himself. Hopefully this will make for long periods of storytime between him and brother on the way to and from! I'm counting on it!
Color Books and Crayons-
There is not much that my monsters love more than new color books and crayons. (Except maybe superheroes.) Since it's Back-to-School season, I got lots of cute books for $1 each and packages of crayons for $.50 a piece! We are bringing along cookie sheets to act as mini tables for them to have a solid service to color on as well!
i-Spy with Books-
Okay, we all know how to play i-spy in normal everyday play, but how do you do it in the car?! With planning. My kids would play this all day long, so I had to figure out a way to adapt this game for travel. I took four of their favorite books and looked them over, front and back and made cards to coordinate with each book, listing off at least 10-15 things in each book for them to find. They will have loads of fun flipping through the pages trying to find each item and it's a great way to interact with them while they are in the backseat. At least, I hope. I'll let you know. Theoretically, it sounds like a fabulous idea! LOL.
Kids never get tired of stickers. My kiddos almost won't buy books anymore that don't come with stickers. Packages of their favorite characters can be found in the card aisles usually for super cheap. That's where I grabbed these Angry Birds. I included a few sheets of paper in the ziploc bag with them so that I don't end up finding these little guys all over my seats and windows. This will be an activitiy that certainly won't buy me a lot of time, but they may enjoy it for about 20 minutes.
Magnetic Travel Puzzles-
This activity better pay off because it sure took some time to figure out! I got the idea off Pinterest (yes. . .again!), and picked out 4 different puzzles, each about 15 peices, to magnetize. Crafts stores have craft magnets that you can cut to size, so I grabbed a roll of that and went to town. However, the sticky side wasn't all that "sticky" and kept pulling away from the puzzle pieces. I ended up hot gluing the magnets on each piece. We will use the same cookie sheets that we brought as coloring tables and put puzzles together as they stick to the cookie sheet. Brilliant, eh? I thought so too!
Stamp It Out-
I found packs of stamp toppers at the Dollar Store and decided to make an activity out of it. I included a few sheets of paper in each ziploc packet as well. This can be fun to encourage counting skills. . .I plan to ask the kiddos to say, "Stamp 4 in a row" and so on. This should keep them busy for a bit.
When All Else Fails, Signal Batman-
Okay, I cheaped out on most of the activities and snacks for the road so I thought I'd make up for it in the things that count. . .Superheroes! I bought my duo two new superhero action figures, one for the road up, one for the road back. Truthfully, these little men in capes will keep them occupied for about as long as a full movie. They will be battling it out against bad guys in the backseat for at least an hour or so each time. New toys are the best! And eavesdropping onto conversations such as, "Being a hero is dirty business!", "Take your shot, punk!", and "I'm about to rock your world, bad guy!" is just the kind of entertainment that I need after 500 miles. Hopefully, I'll get some much needed laughs out of the deal too. :)
Well, we leave in just TWO days! We plan to come back rested, sunburned, and just a little bit tired of each other. It should be a great time. Do me a solid and pray for our little family's safety over the weekend. I'll sure have some fun stories to tell you whenever we return! Until then. . .I'm off to make memories. . .