My husband and I have had a few days away without our five oldest children this week. I, however, did not plan ahead and get a post scheduled. After seeing Emily’s post on Monday, I thought I’d just piggy-back on that and tell you a few of our tried-and-true road trip tips!
We have been driving from either the Midwest or the East Coast to Montana since our third was a baby. When we first started, I would always overpack on the ‘kid entertainment’ items. Now that I have learned what works well for our kids, and what we have space for in the car, I have really paired down the things we bring.
We DON’T bring:
*Crayons and coloring books. They get dropped, lost, eaten, stepped on, and melted into the seats when you forget to take them out of the hot car.
*Excessive toys. Each kid gets to pick one special toy. No more. (OK, not the baby. He gets a whole bag of toys that hang from the back of the driver’s seat.)
*Excessive books. These also get dropped on the floor, stepped on, ripped, and eaten by the baby. This trip, our big kids brought their Kindles, and out littler ones each picked one favorite. In our experience, the kids just don’t read much in the car, so having a whole bagfull of them just takes up precious space.
We DO bring:
*Lots of things to listen to. I was surprised, reading Emily’s list, how little overlap there was! I guess that tells you how many amazing books there are out there! We like:
–The Focus on the Family Radio Theater Dramatization of the Narnia Series. It’s not an exact reading, but we all enjoy listening to these stories.
–Jim Weiss’s reading of The Just So Stories. He’s an excellent reader, and the stories are just fun.
–James Herriot’s Treasury for Children. I’m pretty sure I like these more than the kids do.
–The Lamplighter Stories. The sticker price on these is expensive, but every once in a while, the mp3 downloads go on sale super cheap. Warning: the stories are good, but intense. There are a few that my older girls find too scary.
And for music to listen to, here are some of our favorites that don’t drive mom and dad crazy!
–Andrew Peterson’s Slugs and Bugs. Oh my goodness. So hilarious. These guys have three albums now (I think), and we love all of them.
–Anything by Jamie Soles. This man writes and performs wonderful music aimed at children, but the Scripture content is so high that I have really benefited from his music. As a bonus, everything he does, he does with his family. His recording, performing, and touring all features his family. I love it.
–Sons of Korah. While these are not aimed at children, they are wonderful renditions of the Psalms that would benefit everybody.
*A bonus tip on cars: We drive a Suburban across the country. We drove a minivan for the first few years, but we are pretty sure we damaged it by overloading the trunk. The last year we drove it out, we had some pretty major car trouble. Now we drive a Suburban, which I love, but is not necessarily a great family car. It is heavy-duty enough to handle all our gear, including a tray on the back, but the leg room for the kids is really lacking, especially as our kids get older. There are also not a lot of kid-friendly features, like convenient cup-holders; and the fact that you have to fold down a seat to get the back row of kids in (including our special needs daughter) is pretty frustrating. Someday, I would like to upgrade to a Nissan NV, but for now, we’re sticking it out in our Suburban.*