Last week I spent an amazing vacation with my family out in the Texas country. Part of that vacation included driving there: roughly 14 hours of road trip adventure. Some people cringe at spending that much time in the car, but I rather enjoy it. Here are a few things that make our trip more fun and easier.
This is a great time to sneak in some new music for the kids. Amidst some of their favorite songs I also snuck in some Chick Corea, B.B. King, U2, Louie Armstrong, Gustav Holst, YoYo Ma and a few others. They actually enjoyed some of it too 8^D. We also discovered that 6GB worth of data on your cellular network can get burned up pretty fast when you’re streaming constantly, so make sure to download it to your phone or MP3 player instead 8^D.
The ice chest is your best friend. Load it up with some durable snacks, like granola bars, chips, and dried fruit/nuts to save from spending lots of money at gas stations (though we enjoy the occasional goodie break along the way). We didn’t think of this until the return trip, but purchasing a 24 back of water bottles at the grocery store costs the same as 5 water bottles at the gas station. Buy early, cool in the ice chest, and save some money too. With the water and snacks, you’re typically just grabbing a sandwich or a burger for lunch to go along with your snacks/water and saving some money too.
Prices aren’t as bad as last year, but I used the Gas Buddy Trip Calculator to help map out where I would need to stop for gas along the way, and how much I would be spending overall. For the most part, we prefer to stop at the Love’s truck stops. They cater towards truckers, so you will find a station in almost every city or town along your route if you’re on a major highway or interstate. The gas prices are reasonable, they do a good job at keeping the restrooms clean, and they have a mini-mart and fast food restaurant attached. It makes for a good place to take care of your road trip needs in one stop instead of three.
Are we there yet?!
Probably the trickiest thing is keeping the kids from going stir crazy. Last year we used a “clothes pin” system. For every hour of the trip, we had a clothes pin up on the passenger side sun visor. After each hour we pulled one down. That gave them a “visual” indication of how much time was left to our destination. We also bought a handful of coloring books and toys they enjoy from the dollar store and let them pick a new one out at every second hour, just to break things up a bit more.
This year this plan didn’t work as well. Instead, we broke out our rest stops a little more (into 2 or 3 hour chunks) and let them know how long it was until that stop. The smaller hour chunks seem to work better and they can track it from the mileage signs we use as a base on the road.
Enjoy the Sights
One thing I enjoy about road trips is the new scenery and landscapes you see as you go across country. Make sure to enjoy it! There’s no need to drive like a low flying plane. When possible, plan some of your stretch breaks at a rest stop or “scenic view” since they provide some wonderful views and photo opportunities to see stuff you probably don’t see every day. Getting there is indeed half the fun.
What tips do you have for your road trips? Any particular traditions? I’m already looking forward to our big trip next year and always looking for new things to try.