Tuesday, September 1, 2009
As I've mentioned before, Vito and I are fans of the roadtrip. Prior to getting married and having children, we both worked for touring children's theatre companies where we would routinely load up the extended cargo van with sets, props and puppets, drive for hours upon end to get to the school or theater where we would be scheduled to perform, unload the van, do the show and start all over again. (Yes, I know, how on EARTH could I have left behind me the glamorous life of an actor?)
In Vito's "bachelor pad", there was a giant map of the US hanging on the wall. We would stare at it for hours, picking the places we'd like to go and plotting out the most interesting routes. When Morgan and Sophie were born, we both hoped that they would be good travelers and, for the most part, they are. (Of course, I am erasing from my memory the emergency pitstop at the side of the road in the middle of the desert when a recently potty-trained daughter-who-shall-remain-nameless simultaneously puked and peed on herself and her carseat. Mommy went through an entire pack of wipes, a roll of paper towels and two bottles of water trying to clean up the mess by herself since her other half is a "social vomiter". But I digress...)
Obviously, road-trips nowadays require more preparation than a full tank of gas and a venti coffee but they can be even more fun. One of the biggest lifesaver that I've found is the Mystery Grab Bag. For a few weeks leading up to the trip, I troll the $1 aisle at Target and visit the local Dollar Tree picking up little doodads and toys. (Be sure to stay away from the ones that make noise or you will be sorry!) I search out sales on DVDs and CDs or borrow some from the library. A few nights before the trip, I pull out all the remnant rolls of wrapping paper left over from Christmas, birthdays, weddings, etc., wrap each thing individually and divide them equally between two grab bags (one for each girl). When the day arrives and the initial thrill of the road trip has worn off, out come the grab bags. Each child gets to pull a treat from their bag and tries to guess what it could be before tearing into the paper. Crayons and a coloring book! A DVD! A princess doll! A new book! Whatever it is elicits shouts of glee before lulling them into blessed silence as they play with their new toy. Ahhhhhhhhhhh!
I find that estimating a treat per hour of driving (plus a few extras in case of emergencies) works well. Just remember to plan for the drive home as well! The grab bag can be even MORE important when the kids are over-tired, overwhelmed and everyone just wants to be home.
Have a great trip!