Eleven travelers traveling

In October, the 11 members of my family made a trek to TN (minus my brother’s then girlfriend, now fiancée, who is in the midst of nursing school).  Since we were able to stay in a relative’s cabin, we had a mostly relaxing time.  Traveling with 11 people can be a bit tricky, which is why our van traveled separately most of the time and then just hung out with my family in TN.  There was a lot of coordination and planning to have the trip run smoothly.

Since our immediate families all live within an hour of our house, our traveling for the holidays is very minimal.  I feel for those of you who have to always have to go a long distance to celebrate Christmas.  So, I decided that I should have a column in honor of those of you “traveling with preschoolers” (especially you, my dear friend Suzy!)  Hope you can learn something new from these 11 tips!

These tips are from http://www.sixtysecondparent.com/_webapp_115275/Road_trips_with_preschoolers

1)  If you are staying somewhere overnight and continuing with your trip the next morning, be prepared and have an overnight bag packed and make it easily assessable. That way you’re not hauling everything out of the car and repacking it unnecessarily.

2) Pack a travel kit with rescue items like baby wipes or put damp wash clothes in a zippered plastic bag, include dishtowels, plastic bags, medications, tissues and a well stocked first aid kit. Have an old container handy if you have a child who suffers from car sickness.

The following tips are from a mom blogger: http://glenniacampbell.typepad.com/silenti/2007/05/traveling_with__3.html

3)Make sure your child is dressed comfortably, in loose-fitting, breathable clothes.  Sweatpants or shorts with elastic waistbands are easier to get off in a potty emergency, and more confortable than jeans.  Bring along extra pants and underwear for possible potty accidents, and plastic bags to carry the messy clothes in.  Keep an extra shirt in your carry-on for potential spills.

4) A few new toys, coloring books, crayons, and paper to dole out along the way.  I carry a small notebook and kept track of “Good Traveler Points.”  When my son uses his good manners, sits in his seat with his seatbelt on, helps others, and does other nice things, he scores points.  At 20 points, he gets to choose a wrapped prize (usually a book, deck of cards, small toy, or pad of paper/crayons).  As he has gotten older, the points have become harder to earn.  He has become quite a skilled negotiator, and often tries to bargain for additional points ahead of time.

5) Snacks & Drinks:  Crackers, string cheese, mini-carrots, dried fruit, trail mix, and small Power Bars are some choices to have on hand.  Candy, cookies, sodas and other  treats might cheer them up momentarily, but when the sugar wears off, the crash will not be fun.

6) A Notebook or Journal:  Ask your child to tell you a story about where you are going, what they want to do there and what it will be like on the way there and record it.  Ask them to tell a story about what they saw there and record it on the way back.  When you get there, ask your child to draw the things they saw and did.  This can become a wonderful scrapbook of their trips.

Tips from my travels with kids over the past 9 years.

7) Toys: Pick bigger ones that cannot be spread out over the whole car.  Also pick ones that tend to stay together.  Put lacing cards on a ring and give several laces, so that if one drops, it is not a catastrophe.  Magnadoodles are great travel toys.  Melissa & Doug also make several magnet books.

8) Make your own I-spy container.  Gather up a bunch (about 20) of smaller items (bouncy ball, paper clip, little car, rubber bands, etc.)  Using a rinsed out peanut bar jar (or another jar with a tight lid), layer these small items among rice.  Fill until almost full but make sure that the rice is not completely packed.  The child now can move the rice around and play “I spy” trying to find the different items.  Note: you may want to reinforce the lid with strong tape unless you enjoy getting rice out of crevices. 🙂

9) Books: My favorite travel books are mazes.  Richard Scary books are also wonderful because there are is so much action on each page; kids are not as likely to get bored.  Usborne also has a bunch of search books at several different age levels.  (Note: if this is your first time giving your child a book to read during long distance travel, keep an eye on them to make sure that this does not make them car sick.)

10) Compact Discs: Pick out cd’s that are fun to travel with (preview any new music).  I just gave my kids the “Slug Bugs Christmas” c.d. that is very enjoyable for all 4 of my kids.  Or make your own mix cd’s or i-tunes play list.  The more variety, the more enjoyable the trip will be.  The Lincoln libraries have books on cd – my kids almost enjoy listening to stories more than watching videos.  Beverly Cleary’s “Mouse & the Motorcyle” books, as well as Frog & Toad books are good for preschoolers.  There is usually a special section in the library with books on cd and usually age recommendations are on the back.  If your vehicle still has a tape deck, you have even more entertainment possibilities.

11) DVDs: Our newer minivan does have a DVD player, and we did use it on the trip.  But we tried to use at the crucial moments – when everyone was getting tired of traveling.  We checked out several movies from the library – “Reading Rainbow” is a good choice to go beyond cartoons.  We happen to have several concerts on DVD (Jars of Clay, Allison Krause, etc.)  Those ended up being my favorites because while I couldn’t see the screen, I could still enjoy the music.  One can only handle listening to Veggie Tales for so long.

Godspeed on your travels!