On a recent family road trip down to Florida, I reflected on how traveling with our three daughters has evolved over the years.
Our first family road trip was 14 years ago, our oldest daughter was 6, the middle daughter was 2 1/2 and the youngest was 6 weeks old! Driving over eight hours to Ohio was challenging with three kids under age 6!
My strategy was to keep the girls occupied and distracted for most of the time and hope for naps to bring some sense of sanity to the car. I bought new books for them to look at, we sang to kid friendly tunes and I also had snacks handy that were not too messy or too sugary! All went well!
A few years later when the youngest was a toddler and the oldest was 9, we decided to drive to northern Wisconsin (Superior) and celebrate July 4th up north! With relatives living in Wausau, an overnight stay visiting the girls’ cousins was a great way to break up the drive. We borrowed a small TV with a VHS player thinking movies would provide additional distractions to new books, car activities, and music. The girls were also engaged playing games like I Spy and finding different license plates.
When we bought our new van, it came with a built in DVD player. The girls thought this was awesome! They still packed their activity bags with hand held games like Hangman or Connect 4, books, music and snacks.
As the girls got older, I created a packing check list for our trips. Packing for four females is quite a task! The girls each got a check list and set items aside for the trip. I would go over each girl’s list and make sure everything fit in their suitcase. Each girl had her own carry- on bag with wheels so they could pull their own suitcase and wear a back pack. Thus saving my husband and me from hauling all the luggage!
On this recent road trip, I could really see how much technology has changed in how we travel. My husband is fortunate enough to have a Wi-Fi hotspot on his smartphone. Every few hours he would turn on the hotspot. I could check my e-mail and check in with clients, and the girls could log into Facebook and check in with their friends. Two of the girls had laptops so I had them look up rides and attractions at Universal Orlando so they could plan their time at the park! I used my iPad to check road conditions, weather updates and my husband used his smart phone to find out what restaurant options were in the area when we needed to stop for a meal. Our return itinerary wasn’t finalized, so we made hotel reservations for our final night of driving the night before!
We still listened to music; we still looked at license plates and commented on billboards. We packed sandwiches and fruit the first day to save driving time. Snacks and water bottles were always available just in case. Having been stuck on a highway in Kentucky for 2 hours because of a serious accident, I have learned to always be prepared.
A few lessons I learned over the years when traveling with kids is to always be prepared, expect the unexpected…..and be as flexible as possible.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson says “Life is a journey, not a destination”. Enjoy the journey!
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