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Surviving Road Trips With The Family

A cooler of healthier alternatives—yogurt, fruit, and nuts, some pita with hummus or peanut butter—leaves us all less road sick. Not to mention money and time saved.

Planning a road trip for vacation? Or maybe driving college kids to campus?

With family flung far and wide, I have plenty of road trip experience and thus, a bit of advice about hitting the highways.

First, pack food. It took me a while to learn this. I once viewed road trips as perfect opportunities to gorge on fast food. I only packed sodas and chips and planned to hit all of my favorite drive-thru indulgences along the way.

When our eldest son was a toddler, he was wiser than me. He wouldn’t touch fast food. We would buy greasy grub for everybody else and then drive around in search of a grocery to purchase fruit and yogurt for him.

I found his fast food refusal terribly inconvenient. Little did I know, he’s a genius.

Since my husband preferred not to spend extra money or time on multiple stops, I relented and began to pack food. Wow! What a difference. We actually feel good when we get somewhere.

A cooler of healthier alternatives—yogurt, fruit, and nuts, some pita with hummus or peanut butter—leaves us all less road sick. Not to mention money and time saved.

Second, bring a map! GPS devices are useful but can be glitchy, steering drivers off the beaten path. A map provides the big picture view sometimes necessary to override “her” directions.

Yes, my husband’s GPS voice is female. I’ve more than once informed him that without a map, he must choose between her and me.

Third, stock up on plenty of pass-the-time material, especially for young kids. I sometimes buy new travel games, books or movies and then dole them out along the way as an incentive to compliant travelers.

DVD players may not be necessary. Many movie rentals and downloads are available for the iPad and other mobile devices. But if your device’s Internet connectivity is solely via Wi-Fi, make sure to pre-load movies, books and games in case you’re stuck in an Internet wasteland.

Good old talkie games are fun, too, and require no electronic gizmos. Our family is competitive with the ABC game where each person must find every letter of the alphabet from road signs, billboards and license plates. First one to Z wins!

Category games work too. Try naming flavors of ice cream, models of cars or state capitals until one victor is left with an answer.

If your children are very young, timing is everything. Make sure they’re fed and changed and ready for napping. Bring comfy blankets and pillows for backseat passengers and plenty of caffeine for the driver. There’s no easy way to travel with infants and toddlers. But it’s better than staying home!

Finally, if you refuse to follow my first suggestion, be sure to pack some gallon-sized Zip-loc bags. That way, when you or your child have polished off a bag of greasy chips while stuck in smoggy traffic, you’ll have the perfect, sealable road-sick bag to ditch in the garbage of the next rest stop.

Happy trails!

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