Monday, November 17, 2008

Traveling With a Passel of Chiluns (Part 2)

Last week I disclosed some of my favorite travel entertainment. Did any of you watch the Kent Hovind videos I linked to?
What did you think?

This week I want to share some things we
keep in the van, and take with us that have made life much easier in our travels.

1) First on my list for long trips with small children is a Hassock. Everybody should have a Hassock if they have room in their vehicle!

A bucket with seat and lid, to use as a potty-on-the-go.
We keep ours filled with kitty litter, trash bags, a scoop, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer.
When we want to keep from trooping all the toddlers through a truck stop bathroom, we remove the lid, put two or three scoops kitty litter into a bag, place the seat over that, and when they're done, chuck the bag into the nearest trash can. Viola!

2) A Cup Tote.
This is a very nifty tote I found that has a handle and four compartments perfect for holding cups or water bottles.
I found mine at a hobby/craft store.
This tote holds cups designated to the sole purpose of travel and outings. It goes with us everywhere, and back into the house when we get home so we can refill the cups before we leave again.
I also love my tote because it doubles as a diaper bag in a pinch.
It has a middle compartment perfect for holding four diapers and the wipe box, PLUS some little pockets on the side perfect for the car keys, or lip balm!

3) A couple "one size fits several" pair of emergency clothing.
I keep a basket (duffel or Rubbermaid bin) in the car with a first aid kit, a box of wipes, diapers in several sizes, and two pair of cheap sweats for an emergency leak-through or mud wipe-out.
You can usually find sweat pants and shirts sold individually at Target or Wally World for under 4 dollars apiece.
I bought two pants and two shirts that are sizes any of the children could fin into if need be.
The nice thing about sweats is that the elastic in the cuffs keep them up on a tiny person, so buy big.
I've only needed these a couple times in the last few years, but I had to learn this lesson the hard way, and it's been worth the 12 bucks I spent to haul them around in the car everywhere we go - and if you have a little spitter, you may want to put in a clean shirt for yourself:-)
Bless my husband for this life-saving idea!

4) I found some great seat protectors at Target which are for underneath car seats and boosters.
Besides the 5 stars I give them for practicality, I think they look nice too.

In the car also stays:

  • One receiving blanket (which I frequently use for nursing, and has a dozen other uses)
  • A couple towels on the seats to protect them (and because they too, have multiple uses).
  • A water bottle or two - depending on their size and how much space you have for extra things. You know how lovely it is to have children wailing because they are about to die of thirst! NO THANKS!
  • A head lamp for finding things or buckling an elusive seat belt in the dark. You can find headlamps (flashlights on an elastic headband) everywhere these days, but our favorites are from REI.

Other things I like to take on a long trip - though not necessary:
  • Hot Wheels. (I think Faith suggested this too!)
  • Note pad and clicker pencil for (more trustworthy children:-))
  • Board books
  • Everyone likes to have their own pillow. My sister in law Hannah, made "car pillows" for her children which were quite a bit smaller than the standard bed pillow, and she used fun novelty fabric unique to each child. I thought that was a brilliant idea!

We only eat in the car of there is a blizzard outside or something worse. We made a "no eating in the car" rule to preserve our sanity.
I'm thankful we did too, because I've found lots of trash under seats and I'm unspeakably glad it didn't include moldy food, and sticky stuff attached to the upholstery!

However we DO eat on the road, and here's what I often pack:
Mini cinnamon bagels, hard boiled eggs, banana's, grapes, and granola bars.
String cheese, salami, Ritz crackers, carrot sticks, and sometimes a gallon zip lock with other cut veggies or fruit.
Whatever of those things that are easy to hold, and not terrible to clean off of little hands - I don't think cut melon and juicy peach slices qualify!
Raw Almonds and dried cranberries are a hit with all (add chocolate chips to that for the eh-hem... adults.)

Oh. And Daddy Bug loves Tim's Jalapeno Potato Chips. (Can't buy them out here though, so stock up while you're on the West Coast!)

As a last note, each of our children have their own back pack to keep their "stuff" in when we travel.
I require that they make sure it's all put back in there (where I can't see it) when we stop for breaks.
I can't tell you how to enforce this one.
I haven't figured that part out yet.
I usually don't find out if someone was lazy until two or three days later when I'm cleaning out the car.
I also haven't done a bag check before trips the last few times, and I can tell you that I shudder and look away when I see children entering the van with a backpack about to burst at the seams - only do that at your own risk and possibly to your own later chagrin! ;-)

Turning the subject away from what-to-pack-int- your-car in addition to the million-other-things-a-growing-family-would-be-traveling -with...

I was asked how to travel with an infant and would like to comment on that.
Traveling with a baby brings it's own set of puzzles. You have to be really flexible since you have to stop more often (and I know I'm preaching to choir), but there are a few things I've learned from experience.

1) The first baby is the hardest, but after you get that one to travel, he/she sets the tone for all the rest of the children. REALLY!

2) Meet all the baby's foreseeable needs before buckling him into his car seat.
After that (unless you can tell it's the un-faked "I'm about to die" cry - and I hope you are good at determining this, because all the babies I know try the fake version of this cry at least once, and if they are successful at getting your attention and sympathy, you'll have a doozy of a time on the next stretch of road. And the stretch after that... and so on!)...
As I was saying; After that, let baby cry some.
Unfortunately, car seats are awfully uncomfortable - have you ever sat in a five point harness for ten hours? - but he has to sit in is, so he might as well resign himself to the reality of the fact.

I have found that baby adjusts when he figures out the program.

Please, please, PLEASE heed my advice to stop the car every so often BEFORE everyone is at their wits end!
You will gain some friends, and their confidence that you don't wait to pull over until they have driven you crazy!

Either you train them, or they train you.

We attempt to make rest stops occasionally at places like a Bass Pro, or mall, where we can all get out and stretch our legs while looking at something the children can enjoy.
I don't bribe the children, but I keep Tic-Tacs in my purse as morale boosters, and thanks for good attitudes:-)

AJ (my husband) works quite a bit when we drive, and has to be on the phone quite a bit sometimes.
This is probably the HARDEST time of all, because it is necessary and required of the children not to talk at all during that time.
Like anything else it's hit and miss in regards to our success, but over all, we have a lot of fun traveling together - yes FUN!

We are all stuck in the car together, and it's a great chance to behave our best when we feel like it the least. We enjoy a lot of laughs together - made possible not by all our "secret weapons" and tools, but most of all by good attitudes.
And we know where those good attitudes start, don't we mom?!

I hope after wading through this lengthy post, you have some new tools to add to your bag of tricks:-)


Morgan said...

Thanks for this information! It is great and I will definitely be using it. We've hardly traveled at all with the boys because I've been so intimidated, but I think it's time to try. ;)

Diane said...

Cinnamon bagels are my favorite! I know....all that post and I focus on the food part. lol. But I don't have kids so I figured I'd pull something out I can relate too! Though I did travel with my friends three month old recently on a four hour trip, and when it turned dark he started freaking out cause he couldn't see us. So, I pulled out and my book light and clipped it to the car seat so he could see us. That made him much happier and it is small enough not to distract the driver. So, that is my advice!

Mother Hen said...

Great post. Did you mean to link to me with last weeks post on this week? If you did, that's ok. And feel free to delete my comment. I just thought maybe you meant to link to your new post. ;)

Lady Jess said...

Very cool, I think we just might try that the next time we go on a trip. Thanks for the tips. :)

Angela said...

You have some great suggestions. I really like the tote for your cups. It looks like it would be a great size for the car.

Sisterlisa said...

Yes we watch the Hovind Videos! Love them!

2homeschool said...

No, I am afraid I didn't get the chance to watch the video clip. I will go back and watch it soon.

How are you getting time to blog??? Are you blogging while he drives? that is all I can think of.

Love lots.


Ps. Anna is ok. (You win) No broken bones. No bandages. No meds. Go figure. ;-)

Ashley said...

Great tips Analene!

Ashley said...

I just found your other blog. I will be on the look out for posts over there!

Molly Hightower Photography said...

Hey sis! Love your pics as usual

Mother Hen said...

Hi Momma Bug, Mister Linky is broken. I hope he is fixed by next Monday or Tuesday. Feel free to link with which ever posts you like. You could link with both of your HFGF posts if you like. Write a third one and link it too. That'll be fine.

Life throws you surprises! said...

Thanks. You had some new tips I haven't thought of before and I thought I traveled alot. We are headed out for a 10-12 hour trip this week.

Momma Bug said...

Life Throws You Surprises,

I am SO GLAD to meet you! (sort of)

I'll be praying for your trip coming up. I hope you'll have a great time:-)

I would love to visit your blog if you might ever feel comfortable with that. It is really encouraging to know other gals who are keepin' on keepin' on, serving the Lord in their homes.

Thanks for leaving a comment!


Mommy Reg said...

The only thing I could add to that list is the ever so important barf bucket, and extra water and towels/rags for clean up. Our trips always include that too on top of all you have because our little ones especially Princess K, gets car sick. Imagine a trip from town to Carmel. It took use 8 hours because all of the kids (only 3 at that point) got sick more than once. I was so thankful for the bucket and extra water at that point.

Momma Bug said...

Yes yes YES!

I've had to deal with that on an occasion or two - and I'm happy to say we don't have the car sickness problem, but I like the bucket idea.

Another Idea I like is the gallon zip lock bags. They are nice and compact.

I also use zip lock sandwich bags for putting a dirty diaper in. It does help cut down on the smell some.

Mommy Reg said...

Yes zip-loc baggies are a must. I keep a few in the diaper bag at all times. perfect for diapers and well everything else that seems so need changing.

Faith Alterton said...

Great suggestions! You're right about the uncomfortable carseats though. Even the nicest brands are only minimally padded. Adult seats are very cushy, but child restraints are solid plastic with a cloth cover. No wonder thier little rumps get sore!

One thing that seemed to help our little guys sit still better was getting some one inch thick foam from the fabric store and cutting pads to slip beneath the carseat covers. They are still strapped down, but they seem less irritable.

Jeanie said...

What kind of vehicle is that? We have 5 children so far and our van is getting WAY small...

Happy Mom said...

Just wanted to note (as you asked in the beginning of this post) that yes indeedy, I did watch one of the Kent Hovind videos you had linked to in the first installment of your car survival trips.

And then....when we took our holiday pilgramage from MA to Pensacola FL to visit the grandparents, we even visited his "Dinosaur Adventureland!" It was officially closed for the season, but a gracious staff member spent a few hours with us giving a tour anyway!

We had a grand time, ended up buying the video series while we were there, and would never have discovered it if not for your post!

So THANKS! :-)

P.S. I don't know where you call "home," but on one of your road trips if you go close to Cincinnati, you should definitely go to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY. It was amazing.

P.P.S. Definitely looking into a "hassock" sometime, great idea.

P.P.P.S. Sorry for the bookish comment! LOL!