Our family is kind of crazy, and tend to be on the road more than your average family. This wasn't always the case, but living farther from our families means that we find ourselves in the car a lot. I would not call ourselves pros, by any stretch of the imagination, but I have figured out a few tips for surviving the drive! In this time of year, it seems like even normal families are on the road quite a bit, so I thought you'd appreciate my top five tips for surviving trips.
Take care of yourself.
Road trips are more manageable for me if I build in some treats for myself. I buy snacks for the girls (see next point) but I also buy a few little snacks for myself that I wouldn't normally splurge on. On really long drives, Andrew and I take turns driving (and sometimes I take the girls on trips by myself, and am obviously the only one driving, then) and I find that: travel sleep + staying awake while driving = a no-go. What keeps me awake is some good music, a good book on tape (that we can all enjoy), some caffeinated drinks to go, and maybe a good podcast or another one or another one or another one! And honestly, sometimes even just holding hands with my husband while he drives chirks me up a bit.
Snacks. Snacks. Snacks.
Mouths that are chewing aren't yelling (or chatting)! For silence in the car, I bring a lot of snacks, and I stick mainly to snacks that are treats. You know what those foods are for your family, so I won't get into specifics. This also keeps everyone's tummies full and the crankiness down.
Big box of books.
I used to pack a box of toys for our long trips, but that got to be really messy, and didn't really entertain people all that well. It's hard to play with toys in a car seat! (At least the kind of toys my daughters play with - i.e. play kitchen stuff, dollhouse stuff, etc.) But, I find that books can provide endless entertainment, and I can afford a few ripped or thrown books since I buy our books used. This is especially entertaining to a toddler who likes to rip books and normally isn't allowed to. (For the record, they do actually look at the books, too, but it's nice to know that the books they're reading can survive a little rough and tumble if need be).
Movies are your friend.
I usually keep movies for my back pocket trick, because they work like a charm! We have several movies uploaded to our Kindle Fire (ours may actually be a 2nd generation, but same idea), and that keeps our older one pretty happy. (I think the younger will appreciate it more when she is forward facing.) Our favorites (because they're long and wholesome and not annoying to hear over and over again) are The Sound of Music, Annie (the 1999 version is our favorite, but I haven't seen the newest one yet), and Mary Poppins.
Earplugs aren't always optional.
It never occurred to me that I might need earplugs for the car until having my youngest. Maria had bad colic and reflux as a baby, and (her PT recently determined) she tends to be overly sensitive to motion. (We can't be sure, but I think she may get car sick.) At any rate - she doesn't like the car and has always screamed a good amount on long drives. Ear plugs don't drown her out all the way, but they do mute the sound enough that I can be more patient and compassionate in my dealings with her. (And on this note...any suggestions for two year olds with motion sickness?)
What are your traveling tricks?