Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Our First Family Road Trip

This summer we took to the open highway on our first family road trip.  We headed to the east coast to relax on the beach for a week.  We were all super excited, but leading up to our departure my husband and I got a bit nervous about the 17 hour car ride (one way!) we were about to embark on.  We had high hopes for a successful trip so this can become our way of travel.  Buying plane tickets for our whole family is expensive, but I think hauling all of our stuff around an airport and keeping track of the kids is more painful!

The planning for our long ride began a few weeks before we left.  I found many great ideas I hoped would keep the kids occupied in the van online and came up with a few of my own, too.  I was excited to see what was a hit and prayed our kids would enjoy the trek across the U.S!

To help with the big countdown, I had the kids make a paper chain.  Each morning one of them got to take off a link.  They really enjoyed watching it get smaller and smaller!

Making a paper chain
I began collecting special items for each kiddo as our trip drew nearer.  Most were inexpensive gems found at the dollar spot at Target or books I purchased from my Usborne business or Scholastic.  I enjoyed packing them into surprise bags for each of the kids and prayed they would provide some much-needed entertainment on our long drive.  I found some awesome lap desks at Gordman's on clearance as well, so they each had their own little multi-purpose desk to work at.

Surprise Bag
Lap Desks With a Light
I also packed a backpack for each kiddo with some of their favorite books, coloring books, and a special folder or binder with age-appropriate activities.  I found many great printable pages for scavenger hunts, license plate games, and tic-tac-toe which I included in them.  For my oldest son, I printed out an outline of each state we were going to drive through and a map of the U.S. The goal was for him to color in each state as we passed through on the large map and then write about what each state looked like or any other tidbit of information he found interesting in the outlined states.  It didn't turn out quite as I had hoped, but it's the thought that counts, right?!

My youngest son loves cars.  Using a cookie sheet from The Dollar Tree, I created this road (and train track on the opposite side) so he could drive magnetic vehicles and trains as we were driving down the road.  It worked out pretty well!

His other favorite activity was my sticker book stash I purchased from Usborne.  He is three, and can have a difficult time sticking with anything for long, but these are a favorite.  Several times throughout the trip he pleaded for his "homework."  I truly cannot recommend these enough!

The Coveted Sticker Book!
When it was all said and done, our first family road trip was a huge success.  The kids were entertained, had fun with their activities, and were able to see the sights on our trek across the U.S.  We made sure to stop about every three hours and let them run around, stretch out, and just get some fresh air.  I packed a little sack with bubbles and whiffle balls to provide some fun during our stops.  We also traveled with a fully stocked cooler of drinks, snacks, and lunch or dinner items for a picnic to save money and time.  Additionally, I prepared a snack bag full of goodies I could easily access during the drive and some small baggies to put them in.  It worked out great! 

Lastly, I packed a small bin I kept behind my seat with the following items:
-a roll of toilet paper and paper towels
-a box of Kleenex
-gallon Ziploc bags (for car sickness)
-a few old rags
-a bag of batteries and little screwdrivers (for toys needed help!)
-an atlas

My goal was to be prepared for most anything that came our way unexpectedly.  This trip was pretty uneventful.  I am looking forward to more road trips in our future and using some of these ideas again!

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