Road Trips

I’m a sucker for a road trip, full of wide-open spaces and curvy, winding little two-lane blue highway adventures. Adding kids to the mix requires some adjustments, though.

Babies, especially those young enough to still be facing to the rear in their car seats, don’t seem to like seeing the world go by (backwards) while strapped in for hours at a time. They also do not appreciate glaring sun and will cry and yell unceasingly about it, so parents spend a lot of time fiddling with sun shades that block rays, but not the driver’s rear vision.

The newly toilet-trained child does not yet have those inner elimination dials and gauges very well calibrated, so the dreaded yell of “I have to go to the bathroom NOW!” will never come at a sensible or convenient time. Like, when there is actually a clean, functioning toilet nearby.

Forget it. Always carry a spare roll of toilet paper, along with your sense of humor.

Parents get very tired of hearing “are we there yet?” from kids who don’t have a sense of time and distance, and don’t seem to be able to amuse themselves by looking out of the window. I used to read a lot of books in the car as a kid, so that passed the time during road trips, but both of my kids tend to get carsick so their amusement options are more limited.

It’s not as though we don’t have great transportation for road trips….the modern family often has a big, roomy vehicle with which to carry every imaginable toy, snack, entertainment, ice chest and pillows plus a pile of suitcases.

All hail the minivan, especially when it comes with a DVD player that turns backseat voyagers into quiet zombies for awhile so that my husband and I can have a coherent, pleasant conversation.

Unfortunately, big vehicles are something of a liability when gas prices soar.

I’m a fan of satellite radio in the family car; no matter where you are, it has a wide variety of blessedly commercial-free channels, often including kid’s fare like Radio Disney.

Road trips don’t have to be super-long. An hour or two jaunt from your house, with perhaps a detour to a fun ice cream place on the way home, is a nice way to spend a lazy weekend or summer day.

For inspiration in the U.S., I recommend the National Scenic Byways, Road Trip America and Budget Travel Road Trips Web sites. For games and other ideas to keep kids amused and pass the time, check out Mom’s Minivan.