Here we are knocking on summer’s door, which means it’s road trip season! I’m prepping for my family’s trip to Florida for a little fun-in-the-sun, so I jotted down my top five tried-and-true road trip tips and supplies to get our family—and yours—on the way.
One word: Redbox.
Most vehicles these days come with DVD systems and headphones. This is a divine gift. And I’m a firm believer that Redbox is, too. If you are traveling a really long way (as in more than a couple of hours) I highly suggest downloading the Redbox app to your smartphone—this will tell you exactly where the next Redbox location is and what movies it has available. Most boxes are inside a McDonald’s, which works out great when your little adventurers are having a snack attack!
Okay, we’ve all been there: We’re on a long car ride, and someone has to take a bathroom break. I’ve never really considered myself a germ-a-phobe, but the restrooms at gas stations and most fast food joints are so disgusting that the CDC could start an entirely new civilization with just one swab off the wall of any stall! Gross. So, what do you do? You stop at a hotel. Park in the hotel parking lot, and walk into the hotel lobby— the bathrooms are right there, and most of them are spic-and-span clean. Why? Because no one uses them. Folks check in and then go on upstairs to their room to go potty, thus leaving the lobby facilities nice and clean for you.
Keep it Clean
Most moms have an emergency stash of napkins within arm’s reach of the steering wheel, but when embarking on a cross-country trip I highly recommend a roll of paper towels, a couple of plastic grocery bags, some Lysol spray and a small bottle of Febreeze. Odds are, someone on your journey will spill, pour or douse something in Coke, Sprite, or a nice half-melted chocolate Frosty. If the travel gods are really working against you, that same chocolate Frosty will make a second appearance via the same track it went down. In other words, someone’s gonna get carsick. And when that happens, some leftover napkins from Starbucks just aren’t going to cut it. You will need the right supplies.
Pillows and Blankets
Almost every kiddo has a favorite pillow and/or blanket. When we travel by car, I always make sure that each child has their own pillow off of their bed. This works on two levels: First, they have something to snuggle with in the car. And two, once you do reach your destination (especially if you are staying with family) the kids already have a pillow. Several years ago each of my children received a micro-fiber blankets for Christmas—two different colors, so we wouldn’t confuse them. These have been wonderful on our car trips! They cover up with them on the ride, and then when we arrive at our destination, they each have a blanket to go with their pillo.
Finally, we come to the last item on my checklist: the backpack! This is a handy little tool, especially if your kiddos are under the age of 10, and most parents have a spare backpack or bag lying around the house. In the weeks leading up to the trip, make a run (or two) to the nearest dollar store, or keep your eyes open for really good deals at your local Wal-Mart. Pick up little attention-getters such as travel games, activity books, crayons, stamps, sticker books, seasonal jelly stick window decals (they stick right on the windows! The kids can play with them for hours!), and anything else you can put in a backpack. Don’t forget to charge their Nintendo, and pack those types of games, too! Then on the day of your trip, give your kids the pack. It will keep them occupied for a long while!
The most important thing to remember before starting your journey is to have fun—very seldom do things ever work out the way you planned them. But more often than not, the revised version of your plan is better than the original!
Have a great summer, stay safe, and wear plenty of sunscreen!