1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #444

Surviving Car Trips  – Tip #444

Surviving car trips is an art form and particularly if you are doing it alone.  As a military wife, I am often “flying solo” and refuse to let life pass us by or not go on trips until my husband is home (we could be waiting for months).  Having said this, I don’t go away without some planning and prep time to ensure everyone’s survival.   It is this planning that often saves my sanity and allows my kids to see their next birthday! 

My basic must brings:  snacks, wetnaps, klennex, books, map (for them to use), pencils, markers, paper, neck pillows, tic tacs (play game of seeing who can make theirs last the longest), change (in case of toll booths), IDs and travel permissions, bottles of water, first aid kit, emergency car kit, blanket, stories on CD, music, fruit/veggies (not always easy or cheap along the way), chargers, flashlight, games, plastic bags, extra pair of shoes and socks, box of ziplock bags and camera. 

When my husband is away I also make a habit of having the kids take pictures of silly things along the way.  When we are on a trip we often get the big moments but they aren’t always the most memorable so by taking silly things along the way we can connect with their Dad in a fun way too.  When we are going on long trips we also take a poster board size picture of Dad and insert him into our pictures for fun.  It is another silly way of us keeping him a little closer.

I am also not a parent that loves to constantly just turn on a movie or have them play with their gaming systems for hours on end.  I remember car trips with my family as a time that we would talk, argue, laugh and discover different things about each other and the world (by actually looking out the window).  When I do give in the “electronic pleas” from the back seat I give a time limit or say that they can do it until we reach a certain point.  It doesn’t stop them from asking for more time but this is when I pull out the travel bingo.  It is the one game we can all agree on.  It gets them looking out the window, laughing, talking and time flies by.  Now that they are older they make their own cards too.  If car bingo doesn’t work then just find something your family can agree on and have fun with it.  The idea is really to find things to do to make time pass that don’t always include electronics. 

Until I was a parent and military wife, I never knew how exhausting going on a vacation could be! It is always worth it in the end and the memories we create are priceless but the preparation and planning are what ultimately saves me and my children!

Car Bingo

For more information about our tips, books and resources go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org  (I will also post the full sized bingo sheet)

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