Just last week I made a five hour trek on the 99 highway with both kids. Alone.
Was I nervous?
Was I racking my brain for every possible way I could make the trip bearable?
Was I successful?
See, since we live five hours away from all family, my husband and I have made the trip on multiple occasions. We don’t want to miss my niece’s first birthday party. Also, I really want to be there on Mother’s Day. Then there’s Christmas. Needless to say, we are always driving the great 99 highway.
I’ll be honest: that drive is a brute. Five hours doesn’t sound too bad, but the problem is that after driving about three hours you feel like you should be there. This is in part due to the fact that all towns along the 99 look identical.
And smell identical. Lots and lots of dairies and farms along the 99.
Anyway, because we’ve made the drive so much, there are a few things that I make sure I do beforehand to ensure a less miserable trip. These are my survival tips.
1.) I buy lots and lots of snacky foods. Animal crackers, Goldfish, and raisins usually don’t become choking hazards in the hands of my children.
We start the drive and I make them wait as long as possible to eat. This builds the suspense and makes animal crackers all the more seductive in the eyes of a four and two year-old.
After a while, I toss the fish their way and you’d think it’s Christmas, they are so delighted. I have yet to discover how to build similar enthusiasm for raisins, but you know, a mom can try.
2.) I minimize the beverages. Obviously, I don’t want to stop four hundred and thirty eight times for potty and diapers. Therefore, I usually give them one sippy cup of water or juice and that’s it.
I am, however, another story. I just cannot survive the drive without a nice, icy fountain-drink Diet Coke, or an Americano or something. I get really bored at the wheel staring at endless farms and semi-trucks. Thus, I sip. And sip. And sip.
And? You guessed it.
Ye olde bladder rats me out.
I had to use the facilities at about an hour and a half into the trip the last time I made this drive. I didn’t stop until hour four, and lets just say my eyeballs were practically swimming in my own urine. Eww.
This brings me to the next rule.
3.) I only stop for toilet breaks at Starbucks. Yes, in this scenario I am extremely exclusive. Why Starbucks? Glad you asked.
First of all, Starbucks has a one-room bathroom that I can take all my kids in and lock up. I don’t have to worry about my son shimmying underneath the stalls and paying visits to all the patrons.
Second, Starbucks usually has clean facilities. I never know what I might encounter at a gas station or fast food joint. Starbucks is the safe choice.
Finally, I can get another beverage to taunt my bladder. And, I love how Starbucks will give you free, delicious, iced water upon request. In a world where nothing is free, this mama loves the luxury of clean, free water for herself and her children. Starbucks, you done good.
4.) I charge up the laptop and rent a movie on iTunes. We don’t have a portable DVD player, so we use our laptops for the kids to watch movies.
While I could easily grab one of our semi-scratched films from our home library, I like to use the power of novelty with my children. Like the suspense with the animal crackers, a movie that they haven’t seen before creates the same kind of hype and mystery. For just a few bucks you can rent practically anything on iTunes and save it to your computer for 24 hours.
Let me just say that the $3 is well-spent. I prop the laptop up on our middle console and the kids are amused for 90 minutes.
5.) BBQ Sunflower Seeds. Huh? After making this trip dozens of times, my husband and I have had our share of exhaustion at the wheel. One time, at about 2 a.m., a police officer pulled us over for drunk driving. Neither of us had even taken a sip of alcohol that day, we were just exhausted. It’s a scary, scary thing to find that you’ve been weaving lanes with two sleeping kiddos in the backseat.
There is, however, a remedy. Sunflower seeds! Those little suckers will keep you busy and awake. I’m not kidding, next time you find yourself falling asleep at the wheel, pull over and get some seeds (we like the flavored ones.) Just make sure you check your teeth before you get out and have to talk to people. Seed particles can be very off-putting when lodged in your smile.
There you have it. I find that these five, simple tricks really pay off on a long drive. How about you? Do you have any tricks for surviving a long car-ride with children? I’d love to hear!
This post is part of the BlogHer Family Fun on Four Wheels editorial series, made possible by Mazda and BlogHer.