Postcards from Mommywood: My Rules for Stress-Free Family Travel
Ten sanity-saving tips.
With July 4th just days away—the official kickoff of the vacation season–I’ve begun planning our annual, two-week sojourn in Maine. Before parenthood changed how I approached the journey, the five-hour drive was really part of the fun. I immersed myself in the back issues of fashion magazines that normally accumulated around the house and indulged in a series of power naps between stops while my husband, who had grown accustomed to my “wake me when we get there” approach, did all the driving in blissful silence. (I once strolled into the toniest hotel in Washington, DC, in my pajamas, having slept through the entire early morning drive to our destination).
Suffice it to say that as the mother of an extremely talkative five-and-a-half-year old girl, I’m not going to be having any more of those peaceful trips.
The day before we leave, a good portion of my time will be spent collecting whatever I think may keep her occupied for as much travel time as possible – a portable DVD player stocked with the latest offerings starring Dora and Kai-lan; her favorite stuffed animals; some stylish new sunglasses from Gymboree; and, of course, a few packets of the always popular fruit snacks in the shape of the characters from Nemo.
That should last us until we hit the New York state border.
I’ve learned through my very unofficial poll that more families than usual are opting to pack up the car for some family fun this summer than have in the past few years. So, in the interest of trying to save (my) sanity and share whatever pearls of wisdom I was able to find from various sources, I’ve put together this top ten list of tips on how to make things go as smoothly as possible—short of FedExing the kids ahead to your destination. I’ll report in a future post this summer on how things worked out for us.
1) Try not to have an argument with your husband the night before you leave. (There’s plenty of time for that once you’ve logged a few days together in the same cramped hotel room.) If you’re like me, it’s inevitable, but I’ve learned a united front is key when dealing with an ornery kid.
2) Start packing—the sooner the better. Obvious, I know, but if you’re like our family, we usually start gathering things up for packing up the car about 15 minutes before we plan to leave. Not the best idea – so this year, we’re doing it all the night before. Less chance of leaving that favorite toy behind. Here’s hoping, anyway….
3) If your kids are old enough sit down and chat about the trip beforehand, come up with some ideas together on what you’ll do to make the journey more fun. Put one child in charge of stocking the car with (pre-approved) snacks; another one can go online and check out the route to recommend fun stops to make along the way if time allows.