We had a wonderful...and busy time on vacation this last week! WHEW!! We hit the National Zoo, 2 beaches in the area, Washington DC, and Annapolis...all in 4 days!! At times, yes, my stress level was high, but overall, it was a good time bonding with my little honey's.
I spent the last 4 months planning out my strategy and plan of attack. I did a few Touring Tuesday Tutorials and posts of items that I crafted for my kids to do in the car. Some were hugely popular, and some not so much. :) BUT, I totally expected that. You can't let yourself get upset when you spend time making something for your kid that just gets tossed aside. They ARE just kids and it's up to us to teach them how to react when someone makes them something that they don't particularly care for.
Here are some things that we did this week to help keep kids busy, keep our costs down, keep us from worrying, and overall organizing our trip!
Keeping kids busy
-put together a backpack of goodies such as activity books, coloring books, sock puppets, I Spy bags, small pad of paper and pencil, magic coloring book, small (new) toys, leapster games, marble mazes, magnetic memory game, pipe cleaners, finger puppets, new books, stickers, white board, magnets, and tin foil.
My kids LOVED the sock puppets. I would talk to them from the front seat with a puppet, which they all loved. I made each of the older kids 2 puppets. They would put one on each hand and have conversations between their hands/puppets.
-bring fun cd's to listen to---we had a concert of kids bible songs going on for quite a while which we ALL sang along to :)
-stop at elementary school playgrounds every 2 hours (ish) to run off some energy. (This was a HUGE hit with my kids! Ask my oldest what his favorite part of vacation was and he answers, "the playgrounds, the beaches and the zoo." I had mapquested elementary schools before we left, but we actually didn't stop at any of those. The first one did not have a playground (what's up with that??)...then the next time we were supposed to stop, they were all asleep. So, be prepared to alter your plans if need be. When all else fails, stop at a gas station and ask directions to the nearest playground. (We did that too!)
-I bought juice boxes and pouches, and snacks ahead of time. Each time we got back in the car from a playground we had drinks and snacks. This helped them WANT to get back in the car again :)
-I made 3 Touring Tuesday Travel Trays to use for eating and playing on.
Keeping Costs Down
-pack your lunches every day. We brought a cooler with drinks then purchased lunch meat, bread, string cheese, etc...and kept it in our cooler all week. No matter where we were, we could have lunch in the car or at a playground, etc.
-If you can stay in a place with a kitchen, cook some of your own dinners (or all).
-buy poptarts, granola bars, etc for breakfast foods. Ok, so they're not the most healthy things in the world, but it's just a week. Maybe you have some healthier ideas for breakfast? Please share! These are just the things that came to mind...and that we brought along.
-drive a fuel efficient automobile :) We are a family of 5 so we can still fit in a car. I had budgeted gas for our minivan and set it aside. We saved over $200 in gas by driving a car. Nissan Altima if you'd like to know.
-In order to be able to drive the vehicle, we only packed for 3 days of clothes. We did laundry half way through the week and wore our clothes a second time.
Organizing your Trip
-I used the cash envelope method. When we stopped for gas, I only took money from our gas envelope. It helped us to NOT overspend in the spending department since I knew I had only budgeted a certain amount for the "cash to blow" department.
-I packed all of my kids things in one duffle bag, mine in one, and hubbies in another.
-Plan out a menu for the week so you can determine ahead of time how much you'll to spend in groceries.
Something I didn't acount for is that we were headed to a local that has a higher cost of living. Groceries were significantly more expensive than what we are used to. If you can do a little research in that department, it might help in your grocery budget planning.
I am happy to say that we made it through a road trip WITHOUT a dvd player along! In fact, my kids watched exactly NO tv while we were gone...and they survived! Ask them that and they would disagree :) I'm not saying that we've never used one or that we never will use one again....but I CAN say that there was LESS whining and crying on this trip than we've had with our 3 1/2 hour trips to see family when we did have a dvd player along. I found that interesting.
Thanks for reading and coming back after a week of no posts!
Do you have any great ideas?? I am constantly adding to my arsenal of travel tips.