Travel season has officially ended for the kiddos as they made their way back to school this week. And I’m lucky enough to also have a break from travel for work even. So as I stare at the semi-unpacked state of things – I’m rather impressed that so far the tally of missing things is: two pairs of sunglasses (one of which conveniently looks like my daughter’s pair that are still around), one thing of nasal spray, a change wallet (mine and mostly empty), and just a smidge of my sanity.
We usually only do one major road trip but this year we added a second in August. All told we estimate about 3,000 miles in the car, 6 states plus the District of Columbia. In a mid-sized sedan. And they didn’t kill each other. Miracle.
We are on year 9 of doing our summer beach vacation so the kids have reached near pro level of packing their stuff. Last years checklist might get minor updates but we’ve learned what works and what doesn’t.
As far as car travel itself, in the past we’ve also learned a few things and repeated them – like the travel binders and the surprise activities every hour or so. What I’m slowly grasping is that any activity with more than 3 parts is never successful (like all art kits and craft kits). Also overdosing on library books also doesn’t go over well.
But new ideas are always welcome and I did my usual stalking of Pinterest. Here’s the break down.
Things we tried this year that went over “meh”
– using suction cup shower organizers on their windows. All in all they held up surprisingly well. Kind of a pain though when someone wanted to roll down a window.
– few pre-printed travel books – from Amazon I grabbed these: Ultimate Sticker Puzzles: License Plates Across the States: Travel Puzzles and Games and National Geographic Kids Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Atlas: Maps, Games, Activities, and More for Hours of Backseat Fun – these were about 15 minutes of interesting for them. I was told I do a better job of finding fun facts – who knew.
– three sets of games – metal puzzles, spot it travel edition and the good ole triangle puzzle from Cracker Barrel. The triangle puzzle opened and played with for a few minutes. The metal puzzles were finally opened and fun when we got back. And spot it game remains unopened to this day. Again I think really it comes down to anything with more than 3 parts, just doesn’t go over well.
Things we tried this year that did go over well:
– using the pass thru to put snacks in the trunk (non meltable kind). It helped free up valuable space in the backseat as well as created less more of “mom can you put this up front with you” requests.
– tervis straw lids – no one seemed super impressed until I went to take it away to wash it. Apparently they worked super well.
– audio book – my youngest finally got bit by the Harry Potter bug. So on one leg of the trip everyone was listening to the end of book 4. When I travel alone, I’m into various podcasts and audio books so for our next venture I’ll take up the challenge to find more books for everyone to enjoy.
The thing I’ve found most successful for family trip survival – giving the kids choices in advance. It’s a bit of a joke at this point since it looks like a travel agent’s intake sheet but I give them a list of things to choose from before a long travel trip. It includes things like: snacks in the car, meals at the condo, activities and spots to go sightsee. They are given a checklist of sorts with options – to be returned or no votes will be counted. It helps me plan and helps make sure everyone gets to choose something about the trip.
As for me and my personal travel organization, I’ve tried to up my game a little. New cord organizers and a travel cord keeper – have been great in preventing me from leaving cords behind – blank organizer spot helps me realize something is missing. My new other favorite travel discovery – Lush brand shampoo bar. I was hesitant and now I’m kicking myself that I didn’t get the matching conditioner bar.
So as I sit here on the cusp of soccer tournament weekend – luckily local – I prep the backpack for two days in the sun on a field. But it dawns on me that next year, our travels will probably put us on planes – and I get to level up for travel planning. Maybe just maybe, if I start Pinterest this weekend I might be prepared for next summers’ vacation.