Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Roadtrip!!! (2 FREE Printables)

It's been a long time since I've roadtripped with JAM, and our recent trip to South Lake Tahoe was about 8 hours one-way. I don't know what's worse, a long plane ride or a long road trip. I've roadtripped before with JAM and 9 times out of 10 he fell asleep in the car for most of the ride. He'd wake up to eat or go to the bathroom and fall right back asleep. He's been on "quick" 4 hour road trips to L.A. and the longest one was our 33 hour drive when we packed up our SUV and moved to Vegas from Chicago. However, the last time we took a roadtrip was a year or two ago. Unlike other times where it was just JAM and I in the car, this time around I'll be traveling with my cousin, her son, and her boyfriend, which means I doubt JAM will be falling asleep since he'll probably want to play with his older cousin the whole time. I tried to think back on what I used to do for entertainment as a kid when my extended family used to roadtrip all over the U.S. since it was cheaper than flying with our group of 15-20 people. Now that I've gone through the paces, I can share what I learned on our last roadtrip.
JAM was exhausted once we arrived
First thing to get out the way, packing. I'll admit, I'm a pretty bad procrastinator. I say that I'll start packing little by little, but that usually ends up meaning I'm doing 6 loads of laundry up until I walk out the door and I'm packing along the way. Since it was a 5 day trip I knew that I could fit all of our clothes in one duffel bag. Plus I knew I didn't have to pack as much since the house had a washer and dryer (FYI since the altitude is higher in Tahoe, it take A LOT longer for things to dry in the dryer). Another plus side to having a duffel bag is it's able to be compacted a little in a trunk unlike a luggage since it has soft sides. We were traveling with 2 families in 1 SUV so cargo space was in high demand. I also always pack any liquids like shampoo in a separate plastic bag just in case it spills on the way. If you like lists like me, here's my TRAVELING LIST to download for FREE. You can adjust it to your liking. I had a lot on my list since I was the one hosting the reunion so I had to travel with a lot of extra things. Plus I knew the groceries would be more expensive in Tahoe so we tried to travel with as many goods as possible.

As far as my roadtrip portion of the list, here is what I learned: bringing a pillow was super helpful and comfy for everyone, all we ate were chips and other junk food (even though we had sandwiches), I packed Gatorade for drinks but limited their drink intake to prevent frequent potty breaks, simple "I Spy" roadtrip games are fun and easy especially when you're cramped in such a tight spot, and having a MP3 playlist that has a little something for everyone in the car is grand. Most of our trip to Tahoe consisted of open land and SUPER small towns with no cell reception, which also meant no radio signal either, so having an MP3 really helped out for those long stretches of driving. One fun type of "I Spy" game that we played can be printed here for FREE. Like I said, most of our road trip was in more rural areas so stuff on this checklist were a lot easier to find. JAM is 5 and his older cousin is 14 and they both had fun trying to find these things as we drove along.

On average, most cars usually need to stop every 4 hours to gas up so these stops would be a perfect time to let everyone stretch and go to the bathroom. I already packed food and drinks so anytime the kids asked to buy something at these stops I just reminded them that it was all in the car. Most of those gas stations along the way can get very pricey anyways, especially since they were in the middle of nowhere.
Our halfway mark to Tahoe: Tonopah, NV
I noticed that it's always more fun to road trip TO the destination than to RETURN home. The kids slept most of  the way to Tahoe. When they were awake they were either playing on JAM's Nintendo DS or watching a DVD or two on the portable DVD player we brought. On the way home it was the complete opposite. They were up for most of the trip, didn't feel like fiddling with technology, and they were anxious to get home. This is where the MP3 player kicked it. We picked fun songs that we could all jam too and I recorded videos on my digital camera while the kids made "music videos". Every time they asked if we were almost home we'd try to take their minds off of it with more music and air guitars.

All in all we had a successful road trip I think. I didn't need to pull out my travel-size first aid kit that I packed and it ended up being a memorable trip that JAM still hasn't stopped talking about. What tips do you have for road trips? If you want more roadtripping ideas you can always check out my Pinterest board. If roadtripping is not your style, check out my tips on flying with a little one! Safe travels!!