Written By Kath
Katherine is a mom of two girls, a teacher and a self-described dilettante. Join her in Losing It as she shares slices of her hectic life and eclectic interests.Read Her Blog "Losing It!"
Get ready for summer! In the BENADRYL® Most Prepared Mom Contest blog series, moms will share insight, tips, and tricks for being prepared. From traveling with your family to expert advice on getting organized discover how you too can be prepared for the unexpected this summer thanks to BENADRYL® – the preparedness experts.
Road Trip. Perhaps the two most terrifying words for mothers everywhere! But the thought of endless hours in a moving vehicle with your children need not inspire fear – all you need is a little preparation and even the longest ride will become the stuff of cherished memories. Check out this top five list I’ve compiled from experience and the suggestions of other amazing moms.
5. Pack refreshments…and lots of them
It seems obvious, but there’s nothing worse than being stranded in the middle of nowhere with a child who is hungry or thirsty. For a drive over three hours I always pack a small cooler. I can fill it with drinks, sandwiches and healthy snacks like carrot sticks, grapes or cheese slices (cheese strings work nicely, too), and they stay cool and fresh – most kids won’t thank you if you offer them a lukewarm juicebox or a wilted, sweaty cheese slice from the glove compartment, no matter how ravenous they are.
But that’s not to say I’m so virtuous as to only pack healthy foods. Isn’t part of the fun of a road trip sitting and watching the world go by while munching away on some forbidden treat? Vacations are fun times, and the usual rules shouldn’t have to apply. So my road trip refreshments will always include some chips and maybe some smarties or gummy candies (both of which my kids love). The bottom line is that hungry or thirsty kids are cranky kids, no matter how old they are. Keep your passengers well fed and watered and everyone will enjoy the road trip a lot more.
4. Feather the Nest
This is important especially for those early-morning starts. We used to drive from Calgary to Banff at 7 a.m. every Sunday to ski at Sunshine Village. After a few teary mornings, we developed the strategy of making the kids comfortable enough in the car that they could easily fall right back to sleep. There’s no magic formula to making this one work, because everyone’s vehicle is different and so are our children, but we found a few tricks that were especially useful for our little kids in carseats:
- Warm up the vehicle first.
- Load the gear first and the kids last.
- In winter, let them wear normal clothing then cover them with a blanket…if they get hot, they can take off the blanket, but they can’t take off their snowsuit if they’re strapped in.
- Take their shoes or boots off before you leave – their little legs dangle down and the heavy footwear can be uncomfortable.
But even if you don’t head out super-early, all kids will appreciate being able to snuggle down for a quick catnap during a long drive – heck, even most grownups would (just make sure it’s not the driver!)
3. Know the Route
This one might seem obvious, but it’s amazing how many times I’ve set off on trips with a general idea of my destination, only to be stymied by details along the way. The biggest challenge is always when you’re close to your destination. Not knowing the route can lead to a lot of stress for parents, and kids – being the little radar detectors they are – will always sense your fear. That’s the moment they’ll chose to pipe up with “are we there yet?” or better yet, “are we lost, Mommy?”
The advent of cell phones and GPS have made this a lot easier. So whether you’re punching in details on a GPS or making sure you have clear and detailed directions before you leave, make sure you know where to go once you get there.
2. Physician Heal Thyself
One of the most important items to remember when embarking on a road trip is a first aid kit. Mine includes painkillers (for adults and children), antihistamines (we are a family with allergies), anit-nauseants (we are a family with carsickness) bandages and antibiotic ointment. I also usually include sunscreen and insect repellent – because you never know what you might encounter at your destination, or if you might decide to take a detour and bask in the sun at a scenic beach en route. Anything worse than a headache, allergies, blisters, bruises or scratches will probably require a bit more care than my little kit provides, but it’s got the essentials and can fit in my purse, so it works for me.
1. Children, Amuse Thyselves
I have been traveling in planes, trains and automobiles (literally!) with my kids since my oldest was born. She was on her first flight before she reached three months, and I’ve never looked back. One important lesson I’ve learned over the years is that a bored child is an annoying child, at any age.
The key is to remember that children’s attention spans are shorter than ours…and they get progressively shorter the younger the child. That’s why variety really is the spice of life, so be sure to provide lots of options for entertainment. I always bring along movies and a portable DVD player, our laptop, our iPad, the girls’ DS game systems and several books.
BONUS TIP: Expect the Unexpected
It’s always worthwhile to remember that no matter how well-prepared you are, things might still go amiss. You might have car problems, the weather might not cooperate, little Suzy might pick today to come down with that awful flu that’s been going around. In these cases, the best preparation is a little innovation. Be ready to think on your feet, be flexible and above all remember that this is supposed to be fun. Sometimes it’s the bumps in the road that prove the most memorable of all.
What’s your number #1 road tripping tip? Leave a comment below and click here for more information about our exciting contest and enter by submitting your 250 word essay why you should be crowned the BENADRYL® Canada’s Most Prepared Mom and you could win a $10,000 family vacation.
Submission to the contest closes at 12:00 pm, on Monday, July 9. 2012.
Click here for Contest Rules and Regulations.
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