{While I’m in Haiti I asked a few friends to guest post … Enjoy and show them some love by leaving them a comment of encouragement}

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Summer is here!  And that means it’s the perfect time to pile in the car and take a road trip with your family.

I love, and I mean LOVE with a big full heart, to take road trips with my family.  Yes, with my husband, myself, and our 4 boys piled in the car heading out on a long winding road trip is where you will find me at my happiest.  Why would I love to sit in a car with 4 crazy boys for hours (and sometimes days) on end when I could just fly our family to our final destination?

Well for one thing, being truthful here, I’m afraid of flying.  I’m traveling to London this summer and I would rather row myself in a boat instead of get on a plane and fly there.  Seriously, I’m gonna need some meds to make it through the flight.  But that’s not the real reason I love it.  My love language is quality time.  If you want to show me that you love me then just hang out with me.  I will treasure that time more than you can imagine.  When we go on a road trip it is a massive amount of quality time spent with my family.  No one is able to escape spending time with Mom : ) I’ve got them trapped!!

I know some of you may be reading this and thinking I’m completely out of my mind (some of my close friends think that too).  But there are some great things that you can do to make road trips absolutely wonderful, instead of it being the kind of pure misery that makes you want to pull the car over and hitch a ride with the scariest hook handed truck drivers you’ve ever laid eyes on (please tell me you got that reference to one of the greatest films ever, Adventures in Babysitting).

So, here are some things that you can do to help your family have an adventure that everyone will remember with smiles and not tears….

Buy, beg, borrow, or steal a portable dvd player (a laptop with a dvd drive works too).  Load up on fun movies that your kids have never seen.  I don’t mean the latest greatest Disney movie.  I mean the old school movies that most of us grew up watching.  Annie, Newsies, Never Ending Story, Karate Kid, Polyanna, The Original Parent Trap are all great just to name a few.  It will bring you great satisfaction to hear your kids laughing at the same things you laughed at as a kid.  Feel free to sing along and quote your heart out.  I’m not suggesting that you go out and spend tons of money on these movies.  You can usually pick them up for cheap at Goodwill or on Amazon.  You can also utilize Red Box.  Nearly every McDonalds, grocery store, and Walmart has a Red Box.  So, you can rent a movie in one town and then return it in another town at the next stop.

Bring Snacks and a cooler.  This is gonna save you tons of moola and loads of “I’m hungry” whining from your husband kids.  Grab things that aren’t gonna get them hyped up on sugar.  Things like granola bars, beef or turkey jerky, mixed nuts, pretzels, and popcorn.  Leave the chocolate at home folks.  Seriously, melted chocolate on a road trip is just a disaster (trust me, my car seats will never look the same again).  Fill a small cooler with water bottles (preferably with pop tops so kids aren’t losing the lids and spilling all over themselves) and fruit; we like to do big baggies of prewashed grapes, apple slices, and carrots.

Bring a small trash bin.  We use a plastic tub that used to hold dishwasher detergent packets.  You can stick a grocery bag in it and then fill it up and toss the bag (just bring extra grocery bags).  I found the idea on pinterest, I’m not really that smart.

If you’re going to be driving through several states then get a kid’s book about all of the states.  As you drive through each state you can read about state mascots, birds, trees, Capitals, etc.  My kids think it’s fun to quiz each other on states that we’ve visited.  We also downloaded a free printable (also found on pinterest) that lists all the state license plates.  Each kid gets a sheet and gets to mark of the license plates as we see them.

The biggest thing you can do to help you (and other anxious adults) with road trips is to plan extra time into your driving day.  If we do a trip that will involve multiple days we typically pick stops for the night that allow us about 12 hours of driving time.  That means that Google maps will say it takes 10 hours, but we plan for 12.  That gives us time for lunch and dinner stops (we try to stay at hotels that have free breakfast), 15-20 minutes to jump out and run around at a park or truck stop, emergency bathroom breaks etc.  When you stop let the kids run races, do jumping jacks, jump rope, etc.  It will help with all that energy they need to burn.  There’s nothing worse than being on a strict time line of when you have to get somewhere.  It will stress everyone out.  So allow yourself some extra time.

Those are some of the big things and here is just a list of a few small things that we do as well:

Books on cd (we listened to the entire Narnia series on our trip to Seattle)

A car roof rack (we got a cheap one on Amazon, they’re also on craigslist), it will free up a lot of space in the car and make you more comfortable

Craft projects that don’t include glue (foam stickers, mugs where you color little inserts, etc.)

Letting the kids pick out a fun snack every once and a while when we stop

Travel Games (search on Amazon)

Do a search on Pinterest and you’ll find lots of fun stuff…

Most of all just relax and have fun.  This is a time to enjoy each other’s company, see parts of the country that you have never seen before, and explore new places.  You’re making memories that will last a lifetime.

Heather lives in Austin with her Gerard Butler look-a-like husband, their 4 completely wild boys (ages 9,7,6, and 3) and their two Borador puppies, Fiona and Scarlett.  She’s a preacher’s kid with a rebellious streak who loves Jesus more than anything else.  She loves roadtrips and has travelled all over the great state of Texas, back and forth to Seattle, WA; Washington, D.C.; and West Point, NY with her whole family crammed in their mini-van.  You can follow her on Instagram or Facebook.   She’s just started blogging again after a long hiatus at www.anniescarlett.blogspot.com.

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