I have been married for 8 eight years, we have 3 children who are now aged 6, 4 and 4. Call us crazy but we have been driving the 24 hours to Florida from our home in Canada every year since the children were 3, 1 and 1. My husband is the pilot; he picks the route and drives the entire time, assisting me when he can. I am more like a stewardess making sure everyone has what they need and trying to keep the conflict to a minimum. As you can imagine I have learned a few things along the way.
1. Pull out everything that you can think of, now put most of it back! To fill up your vehicle with stuff just crowds all the people inside. An entire day is a long time to have no place to put your feet or your elbows. In all likelihood you will wear the same 2 bathing suits, pair of shorts, and 3 tank tops everyday for a week. Most places you stay will come equipped with a washing machine, which you will need to get the sand out of everybody's pockets. In all likelihood there will be a Wal-Mart, Target or Walgreens in every city that you pass through should you need anything. Consider bringing roof top storage if you are bringing strollers and playpens or larger items.
2. Do bring their favourite sleep toy, a blanket, a small pillow, at least 10 movies, colouring books, handheld games and reading material. I like to organize them into separate bins. Do not forget to purchase a couple of small new toys for each child to use as a bribe or distraction as needed.
3. Pack snacks, but before you do, if you are going to another country be sure to check with customs about what food items you are allowed to cross the border with. It is a terrible thing when you have to toss out your food at the border and can result in your being held up there for a period of time (and if you are like my husband every year you are trying to beat last year's time). I like to bring pretzels, nuts and M&M's, cereals in those fun little boxes and drinks.
4. Bring wipes!!! Wipes for your hands and face, gas station toilet seats, bottoms and anything else you can think of. Guaranteed your child will call out "I have to go pee", after you have past the rest station and there is 47.5 miles until the next one. The only place to stop will be a rundown gas station or wooded area. And don't forget to bring a garbage bag for all of those wipes and anything else that is going to land in your car.
5. Most importantly, sit back, relax, and accept that your children will ask you a million times if you are there yet, they will have to use the bathroom every 30 minutes, you will have to stop often, they will make a mess of your car, they will fight with each other and at some point you will yell at them. But you know what; it is part of the experience, par for the course, for anyone crazy enough to spend 24 hours in a car with their children.
Good luck and have fun!
About the Author:
Lynn Galeazza is a mother of three, the youngest being a set of twins. To say life is hectic is an understatement! When Lynn is not trying to be in three places at once, she does promotions for Pipsqueak Boutique, an online children's store specializing in first birthday gifts and personalized kids gifts (the kind of gifts that make great distractions during long car rides!)