K, so we’ve been visiting my in-laws for what was going to be a week long trip….and it turned into my boys and I staying for a whole month!! We’ve had such a blast reconnecting with family and friends, playing, shopping, and organizing.
We’ve since left to go back to Austin, and I realized that there’s a few things I learned on this little vacay. So I thought I’d share those ideas with you (whether my own or taught to me by friends), interspersed with some of the beautiful scenery from the long and winding road between Utah and Texas. (Did I say long? Excuse me while I get a mega phone…) the LOOOONNNGGGG!!!! road between Utah and Texas.
Before you leave:
1. Get your house ready to come home to.
I hate coming home to a messy, dirty house. After a long car ride, that is the last thing I want to see. So, before we leave, everyone takes a task or two and helps get the house to a place we want to come back to. I’m not talking white glove clean, either. I just think of the things that would make me either cringe or feel relief after a big trip, and we tackle those:
Empty sink, empty dish washer. Empty washing machine and dryer. Sweep floors. Wipe down the bathrooms. Vacuum. Make the beds.
On the road tips:
2. Choose a route that includes someone you know.
We always pick travel routes with friends and family somewhere along the way. That way, if we (heaven forbid) break down or have some kind of emergency, we have someone close by to call on. It’s also nice if you need to save some money or can’t afford a hotel. Friends and family are happy to have you overnight, and it’s fun to get a visit in, too. (Make sure you are someone they can call or stay with if they come through your town, too!)
3. Pack your own snacks and drinks in a cooler.
I heard this from just about every friend I talked to, and it really does save a ton of change. Jamie loves trail mix and dark chocolate covered pretzels; I love peanut butter M&M’s and diet Dr. Pepper; and my boys always beg for grapes and Gatorade. Buying your fam’s faves before you leave keeps you from spending too much at gas stations and rest stops. (75 cents for M&M’s before or $1.59 on the road?…it’s a no brainer.)
4. Think outside the “souvenir” box.
*My friend Heather lets her kids grab pretty rocks they find when they stop on road trips. When everyone gets home, the kids paint their rocks to remind them of the vacation.
*I love collecting sand from each beach we go to. I just grab an empty water bottle and fill it with the sand.
*Gina’s friend buys a few inexpensive things for her kids before the trip, and then lets them open the gifts on the road. This keeps her kidlets excited, and they don’t ask for souvenirs at every stop.
5. Activity Ideas
*Allison and her family bring card games like Apples to Apples Jr. along on their trips to keep things fun.
*Sometimes we rent a DVD from Redbox while we’re on the road. The movie is usually something we haven’t seen, and it can be returned to any Redbox kiosk we see. Score!
*Among other activities, we pack puzzles for the boys to do on road trips. A large baking sheet from the kitchen can be used as a lap rest, and the puzzles stay put without sliding off the sides.
*We also declare a “no media” time in the car. Yes, it sounds like poking forks in our eyes, but there is a point when the kids have had too much media time and start freaking out. We shut off all electronic games, DVD players, music, etc. and have quiet time. Kids can read, color or draw, or play with toys. Usually they end up falling asleep, which is my real plan all along. (Bwah hahah ha!)
When your trip turns into a longer one than planned (whoohoo!!):
6. Mix and match your clothes.
I literally wore a weeks worth of clothes for a whole month. The only way I could do that was by mixing things up. Pairing cardigans with different shirts, layering things, cuffing my jeans one day and leaving them straight down another.
7. Keep your routines as close to home as possible.
All home rules applied to Grandma’s house as well. Meal times happened the same time as at home. Bedtime routines stayed the same (mostly!). And my little J still had naps, or at least some quiet time, around the same time everyday.
Before you leave for home:
8. If you can, do all the laundry before you leave for home.
If everyone’s clothes are clean and folded in their suitcase, then unpacking is a breeze. And that is one less chore you have waiting for you when you get home. Sure, you’ll have one day’s worth of laundry to do, but it’s considerably less than a whole week (or month!!) of clothes to wash.
9. Pack one small suitcase for overnight.
If driving home takes a few days, pack one small suitcase with a day (or two) worth of clothes and toiletries for the whole family. It is so much easier to take out one suitcase than to pull out and haul every freakin’ piece of luggage and repack the car a million times.
When you get home:
10. Unpack the car ASAP.
*Have a trash bag in one hand, and a “keep” bag in the other. I shove all of the toys and books in one bag to be sorted out when I have a minute inside.
*All the trash is thrown away in the garage garbage can….it doesn’t even make it into the house.
*We also have a portable DVD player that is immediately put back inside. I don’t want my kids to think we can watch a movie on the way to the grocery store.
11. Start the washing machine.
I add the clothes we haven’t washed, plus our travel blankets and pillows, to the washer right when we get home. I don’t want my house, or our stuff, to smell like travel one more second!
12. Don’t make a billion plans the day after you get back.
If you can, try not to schedule a bunch of stuff like Dr. appointments, meetings, or anything too time consuming they day after you get back. And if it works into your schedule, try to come home one day early so you don’t have to go to work the next morning after a long trip. That day after is so much easier when y’all can sleep in a little, catch up on unpacking and checking out the house and yard, and get to the grocery store.
So hopefully some of these ideas will be helpful on your next road trip! They’ve kept me from feeling too crazy (especially when all that driving has made me a little loopy!)
How about you? What are some of your best road trip tips? Do you like to fly or drive? What’s your MUST HAVE road trip snacks and treats? Anyone else ready to throw a few movies out the window after hearing them one too many times?
P.S. All the pics are ones I took through Instagram while on the trip. You can follow me under freestylinbeth.