Raddish founder, Samantha Barnes recently took a road trip with her family of four. Below she shares her tips and tricks for keeping families happy, healthy and well-fed while traveling this summer.
Preparing for the Family Road Trip
Last week I returned from a 1400-mile road trip to my mom’s house. I drove from Los Angeles, CA to Park City, UT with my family: my husband, my 4 year old, my 2 year old, and my 100lb golden retriever. Maybe it’s because I grew up taking long car trips with my mom, or because I know getting on a plane with my crew isn’t exactly a walk in the park, but I was actually really excited for the adventure.
My 4 year old turned out to be an awesome traveler. Not entirely what I expected from someone who can have a 25-minute meltdown about the seams in her socks. And aside from a few frustrated “I refuse to be in this carseat one second more” outbursts from my 2 year old who can’t really understand the concept of “almost there”, and the 2 ½ hour conference call my husband had on mute, I think it’s safe to say it actually was really quite fun.
Here are some tips that contributed to our success:
1. Organize with ease.
I wanted the car to be meticulously organized so the kids could independently access their activities. I got this backseat organizer and it worked brilliantly. I especially loved the drink holders.
2. Suspend time.
Kids don’t understand time – and I couldn’t bare the “are we there yet???” question at the first stop sign on our street. So I created a visual timeline to track our journey. It’s easy: 1. Hang a piece of yarn across the backseat of the car where your kids can see it. 2. Print-out an image of your car’s make and model found on the web. 3. Use clothespins to hang the picture of your car and little signs to show stopping points along the way. 4. Depending on your trip’s length, approximate the increments on the string that each hour represents. For us, we moved the little car about one inch every hour. Bonus: my kids got 1 gummy bear after the first hour, 2 after the second, and so forth… let’s just say they were ecstatic when we arrived at Zion National Park at hour 7. In sum: they LOVED seeing “my” car move along the string, and I never once had to answer the dreaded question.
3. Pack fun stuff.
I filled the backseat organizer with all sorts of books, new activities, and games. In this cool new clipboard, I stuffed workbooks, a coloring book and a blank sketchpad. The crayon roll my daughter was given for her birthday proved very useful and she actually returned each crayon to its slot! A first!
The animal puppets we made in a Kiwi Crate a few months ago were lightweight and creative. On multiple occasions I heard my kids making up terrific stories with them.
4. Let it go! Digital works.
Though I held out to the very last minute, dreaming of less device-crazy times, I did buy an over the seat Ipad holster at the urging of about everyone I talked to. It ended up coming in handy during the 2-hour traffic jam outside of Las Vegas, when the kids watched Frozen for the nine-thousandth time. I was excited for the new Reading Rainbow app, but it didn’t work offline.
I downloaded a bunch of Sparkle Stories to which the kids really enjoyed listening. If they were a little older I think a longer chapter book would have really held their attention. Of course, we also played some old-school games, like Twenty Questions, Categories, and storytelling. Our Raddish table talk card deck was fun, too!
5. Snack happy.
I pride myself on packing good road trip snacks – and never having to stop for fast food. (Ice cream stops, of course, are allowed. And encouraged.) Here are some of the things that filled our cooler and massive snack bag (my husband told me we had enough food to drive to New York!)
- Cheerios (also good for hotel breakfast)
- Almonds & walnuts
- Dried apricots
- Banana chips
- Granola bars
- Whole wheat pretzels & hummus
- Water, milk, and diet coke (for us, of course!)
- PB+J sandwiches
- Graham crackers
- Cheese sticks
- Leftover pasta
- Gummy bears
- Mini chocolate chip cookies
With preparation, some goodies off Amazon, our imagination, and lots of healthy snacks, we made the 13-hour trip fun and exciting – both ways! What are your family’s favorite things to pack, snacks to eat, and games to play?
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