Friday, October 14, 2011

Tips for Traveling Without Going Insane

I do not consider myself a seasoned traveler but I've made a few road trips in my life, seeing as how Mr. Steady and I dated long-distance for almost a year.  I drove the 1400 mile round-trip several times by myself, stopping in truck-stop parking lots (because I was a poor and also naive college student) to sleep. 

But this is the first 1500 mile one-way trip I have ever made and we did it with three children!  So I thought I would share a few traveling tips.  I got a few ideas from Monica's blog, borrowed a few ideas from other blogs, and {gasp!} even came up with a few of my own!

Our rental car trunk on the way out - filled to the brim!

Goodie Bags - I saw several ideas, from wrapping Dollar Tree toys and giving the children a gift every hour, at the entry of every state and several other ideas.  We decided to do one goodie bag a day and let the boys learn to budget their fun and snacks.  My dad's girlfriend very thoughtfully gave the boys a large bag of goodies so I combined her gifts with things I had bought.  On the first day (of the road trip my mother gave to me....oh, sorry), they each received an ink pen, personal package of tissues, fruit snacks, beef jerky, a curly straw and Sunday comics.  Yes, the Sunday comics...I'd been holding them hostage for several weeks.  The other days bags contained items such as peanut butter crackers, personal bags of Oreos and Chips Ahoy cookies, dot-to-dot pages, the seek-and-find pictures from the local daily newspaper, word searches, candy, more fruit snacks, more beef jerky, and recent issues of Highlights magazine (also held hostage for this specific purpose).  On the first day of the return trip they received new ink pens and new curly straws because they are boys (or maybe just kids?) and had either lost them, broke them or used them for swords.

Our friend, Mindy, gave us two sets of Roadtrip Bingo and I saved some of the bigger gifts Sue had given the boys (spiky inflatable balls, a slinky, a small chalkboard, and a game) along with some bigger things I had bought (a Lego minifigure and a book for each of them) as prizes for winning.  I had one big gift per child per day on the way out.  Thanks, Mindy - they were sure a hit and they boys were disappointed to find there were no more prizes for the return trip!

I downloaded several ebooks from the library onto my iPod and requested several audiobooks.  Instead of taking all the cases, I loaded up the CDs into a small CD holder - that way all the CDs were together and we didn't have to store all the cases.

Anytime we are on a long trip and are planning to stop overnight I pack an overnight bag with just the necessary things for our whole family for one night in it.  That way, when we stop at the hotel the only thing we have to take in is that one bag.  Since we were staying overnight two nights this time (or is it because their clothes aren't teeny tiny anymore?) all of our stuff wouldn't fit into one bag.  But I did manage to get everything into two bags.

 One thing I did to save on space was only pack one pair of pants in the overnight bag for each person.  You're already wearing one pair and all you're doing is sitting (and sitting....and sitting...and sitting....and occassionally whacking your brother....and sitting some more).   So you wear a clean pair of pants the second day and by the third day the first pair has aired out enough you're good to go.  Some of you may think that is gross but when we are at home we wear our pants (well, to be fair, I wear my skirt and they wear their pants) more than one time before washing and we're not just sitting around so why not save room on the road?   There was a washer and dryer where we stayed so I only packed 5 outfits plus church clothes and we were able to pack everything into 3 suitcases.  I don't know about you but I think that is pretty good!

A dear minister and his wife gave each of our boys a gift card for different fast food places.  What a treat for them to be able to pay for a meal.  They each got to pick lunch one day and kept their eyes peeled for their choice.  We also gave each of the boys their allowance plus an extra $5 to spend however they chose.  Next time I would wait until we got to our destination to give them the money because even though our intention was to let them spend their money however they wanted, I knew I didn't want them buying junk on the way out and not having anything left for the duration of the trip.  The Reader (who has become my spender) bought a sand art picture from Lorraine, polished rocks at a trading post, and who knows what else.  The Thinker bought a book on our way out of town in Albaquerque and The Entertainer spent a whopping $1.29 on a package of Vanilla Sugar Wafers at a gas station in the middle of Texas.  It was a good thing too since we ran out of cash and had to borrow some of The Entertainers money to pay for a toll to get out of Oklahoma! 

The boys found a cattle skull the day we left and they considered this the ultimate souvenier!  Mr. Steady was hoping I wouldn't let them  didn't think I would let them bring it home but I thought it was as cool as they did!  We took our groceries for the week and left a few clothes there so we thought we would have gobs of trunk space on the way home but we were wrong!

 See the cattle skull on the right in the garbage bag?  Too cool!

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