Here in New England, we get both a winter break (the week of Presidents’ Day in February) and a Spring Break (the week of Patriots’ Day in April). My family just returned from a winter break road trip, in which we drove from Maine to Orlando and then back home again at the end of the week. Some of my fondest memories from my own childhood are of long car rides halfway across the country (I grew up in Kansas but both of my parents have sisters that live on both coasts), so I am sharing my love of the road with my family.
All you need is a positive attitude and a few supplies.
The first step is to keep them safe, healthy, dressed, and clean. Here are the must-have supplies for just-in-case:
• Basic first-aid kit: anti-bacterial spray, band-aids, cotton swabs, etc.
• The essentials from the medicine cabinet. Something for a headache, a tummy ache, and sunburn are non-negotiable. You might also want to include allergy medicine, cough syrup, and other medicines.
• Plastic bags. Recycle those plastic bags from the grocery store. They can be used for trash, sandy shoes, wet towels and bathing suits, and as a makeshift dirty laundry hamper.
• Safety pins and a small sewing kit.
• Small notebook and a pen.
• A permanent marker to label everything from cups to souvenirs.
• A pocketknife and some scissors.
• Hand sanitizer.
• Baby wipes, tissues, and a roll of paper towels.
Once you’ve got the essentials, there are few items that can make the road trip more enjoyable.
Buying a candy bar and soda at each pit stop along the way can get expensive and is not very healthy. Stow a small cooler to keep cold items such as lunch meat, cheese, yogurts, juice, etc. Pack a reusable grocery bag or two with fruit, trail mix, jerky, crackers, and treats. These fold up easily when emptied. Have a gallon of water ready to fill your reusable water bottles at stops.
Lots of entertainment is key to taking road trip vacations with children. Pack a bag with lots of books, travel games, Mad-Libs, audio books (either ones the whole family will like, or paired with headphones), coloring books, and drawing pads. You could also allow your kids to take their school backpack or other small bag, and put together their own kit to keep busy.
Blankets and small pillows make the car a bit more like home. If you are staying the night on the road, pack an overnight bag that contains everything you need for the whole family that night so you minimize that amount of luggage that you tote in from the car. If you expect to be near water or interesting locations, appropriate clothing, footwear, and accessories might also be kept handy.
A Sense of Humor:
Don’t lose track of the reason you’re on vacation. The idea is to have fun. Sometimes plans change. Sometimes things take longer than you expected. And sometimes you have to roll with the punches. Just take a picture, laugh, and remember that vacations, people, and families are not perfect. Life would be really boring if they were!
So you can get your list on.
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