Sunday, June 9, 2013

Traveling with the Little Beavers

So, we just returned from a week-long trip to Texas.  By "we", I mean the kids and I.  Ordinarily, we work out our summer travels so that Eli can come with us, but this time we worked around a certain date:  my nephew's graduation.  Eli really couldn't get away for the week, so we packed up the car and headed to Texas.

I've traveled solo with two kids before.  It has been a while, though--not since we took a "short" 8-hour drive to see Eli when he was up in Virginia for six months at the JAG school.  I've learned a few things about traveling with little people.

1.  I have two amazing little people to travel with.  They entertain each other and themselves in the car--no problems.  See, we have a compact car.  No fancy technology.  We make long drives without the aid of DVDs.  Just the company of each other.

2.  Plan ahead for food (my kids love to eat), and all will go well.  I stock the front seat with a cooler of kid-friendly drinks (sport top bottles, etc.) and water; I also have a basket of snacks, equal part salty and sweet. I also bring empty cups:  cups with lids to give water, and cups without lids to hold loose snacks.  When necessary, stop for meals.

3.  Plan for in-car diversions, and but don't give it to them all at once.  I made that mistake last summer, haha.  They each have a backpack, and I go to the dollar store and spend about $20 on junk for them (stickers, toys, coloring books, etc) and put part of it in the backpack, the other part in the trunk for the return trip.  Last summer, I learned that crayons were a no-go after having to remove melted crayon from O's car seat.  This summer, I learned that if you give markers, you have to be willing to deal with the consequences, which I'm okay with, so we went into Chick-Fil-A with one green kid and one red kid because the best canvas is a blank one, you know?  They also each had a good time with a Slinky.  Oscar more than most.

Look, mama!  My Slinky!

I do also plan ahead and get audio books from the library.  This time I hit the gold mine in a CD that had six Arthur books on it, plus songs to go along with it.  I also brought my least-annoying toddler tunes.  And an audio book or two for me.  When one of my discs would end, we would listen to one Arthur story.  And on the return trip, I managed to get the kids to listen to the Wicked soundtrack.

If we had been plugged into electronics, we would have missed Oscar raising his markers to the sky, saying, "By the Power of Gray Skull!  I am He-Man!"  or every time he saw some, yelling excitedly in the way only an almost-three-year-old can, "More cows!!!"  We would not have had the back seat sing-along, or the random questions from Elsie because she was actually thinking:  "Mama, do Chick-Fil-A have beer?"

4.  You have to take time for little people to get out of the car to run around, so go ahead and plan for it.  But, make it a productive stop.  Combine restroom, stretching, food, and gas wherever possible.  Rest stops and welcome centers are better for running around than other places, but do what you can.

Mississippi River overlook in Vicksburg
That's a mighty big river!
Welcome to Texas.  Almost there.  But not quite
5.  It's okay to let kids be kids.  Like, when they decided to serenade the ladies' room at the Texas welcome center because there was already a stage and great acoustics.

Yeah, like that. Times twenty.

6.  There's no great way to do potty stops.  We all go in.  We all go.  We all come back out.  Somewhere in there someone opens a stall door before it's time and we flash the other ladies that may be in the restroom. People I'll never see again, thankfully.  But sometimes, just sometimes, you may get a free concert.


1 comment:

Lauren said...

This is fantastic. I didn't know that anyone with kids traveled without DVD players anymore besides us. Glad to see we're not the only ones that believe kids can entertain themselves, interact with you, and look out the window at the world. Sounds like a fun trip!