Like any good road trip -- no matter how long -- you start packing the night before. In our case this one will span 23 days and 10 states. Our schedule is lighter than last year's eastern swing -- we have only 14 shows. That means some days off to play.
We're finally getting the packing routine down. Unlike the first time Jeni and I hit the road with just one child and a van over-loaded with gear and a full cargo carrier on top, this time with two kids, I can actually see out the back window.
We pulled out of the drive at 10:23 a.m., nearly an hour behind "schedule" (as if it's possible to have a "schedule" when I'm outnumbered by estrogen and Libras), drove 400-some-odd miles, and now we're back in Kentuckiana (see earlier post) within spitting distance of "Possibility City".
(Geography digression: Did you know there's a town in Indiana called Santa Claus? Pretty cool.)
People often ask Jeni and I how we 1.) travel as a couple for such a long stretch and stay married, and 2.) how we travel with two young kids for three weeks on the road. The short answer is: We are livin' the dream and we love it (not to mention each other). The other answer is: Practice. This is what our girls know and expect, so it's no big deal.
We have to make it fun and practical and realistic and interesting all at once. Some tips:
Get a road trip theme song. Our theme song today, of course, was The Brady Bunch's Keep On (Cruisin' down the highway in a makeshift Model TA. Whoo!) And change it up, 'cause this is fun for about the first three spins, then it's auditory assault. The girls love their Bradys.
Engage with the kids. Don't just slap them in front of an endless loop of videos. Sing. Talk. Play games. Just like we did when we were kids. Read, for crying out loud! And we're not complete curmudgeons when it comes to video (we got one for Christmas last year and it's nice to have along.) We enthusiastically agree to one video per day. No more.
Pack some good food. And by "good", I mean "healthy." Personally, I think just because you're on a road trip is no excuse to jack kids full of sugary, salty, greasy snacks. Especially if you have them strapped to a seat for eight hours and expect them to be relaxed and happy and cooperative. It's down right abusive to fill them with junk and then pester them to "keep it down" or "sit still". I want to see you try to sit still after a bag full of Skittles. We're only minor sugar-Nazis. Snack time comes right after a good lunch and a nap.
Keep your same bedtime routine. It's not always easy, but 'nuff said.
More as it happens. Cheers!