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A Happy Holiday Road Trip

on the road for christmasIf you have a big family, you know that it's count-down time for preparing the Christmas travel itinerary.

Is the family coming to your house this year or do you have to travel? Are you traveling alone or with those wonderful, beautiful children that everyone cannot wait to see?

Our family has opted for the "every other" option and this is our year to travel. If the right precautions are made before hand, the "every other" refers to years and not new gray hairs.

Here are some helpful tips, advice and a checklist to make your trip this year a fun and memorable one.

Getting ready

A very important part of a road trip is making sure the vehicle is safe to drive. Have the oil changed, the antifreeze checked, make sure the tires (including the spare) are all in good condition. Also be mindful of the forecast to prepare for any weather emergencies that may lie ahead. Nothing puts a kink in your plans like breaking down on the side of the road - while keeping kids amused at the same time!

Driving at night is not appealing to some people, but if you have young children this might be something to consider. Usually there is less traffic, and there are automatically less stops and less bickering — since the children are more than likely going to be blessedly asleep!

Before everyone gets in the car, pets and parents included, everyone should use the bathroom. Once the car is loaded and the tires hit the pavement everyone is going to want to get there, and fast. Never mind stopping to use the potty. For longer trips some parents opt for travel potties to avoid emergency stops during the trip. It is also important to check and double check your road trip supply bag, making sure that there are enough healthy snacks for little travelers.

Some nutritious and minimally messy snacks are sandwich sized zip lock plastic bags filled raisins, pretzels, cubes or slices of cheese with crackers, cut up fruit or veggies (apple or pear slices, oranges already peeled and sectioned, baby carrots or celery), and some water in individual bottles (so no pouring is necessary) Those small soft sided thermal bags that keep beer or soda cool can hold individual "picnics" for each of the children. Drinks and snacks stay cool and fresh in the warm car while arguments about sharing are eliminated.

Make sure to bring plenty of baby wipes. Even for big kids, these premoistened wipes are excellent for quick clean ups, from faces to spills. Plastic grocery bags make great garbage containers.

Happy holidays on the road

If you have small children, plan on stopping at least once every three hours. It is hard for some adults to sit for long periods of time and almost impossible for small children, unless they are sleeping. Fitting in a meal or a fueling station during these times is a good idea.

Bring along a deck of cards, some crayons and coloring books, and their favorite books. Maybe some travel size games & toys such as a gameboy or other hand held video game, or the old fashioned ones like tic-tac-toe and hangman. These are good ways to help pass the time in between stops.

In case of emergencies, the glove compartment is the best place to store a copy of insurance cards and registration, a list of important phone numbers, (if they are not already programmed into your cell phone), some extra cash or a credit card. In cold weather, throw a couple of blankets in the trunk along with a flash light and extra batteries.

Some people travel with pets and in that case just make sure to never leave the pet in the car alone. Give them time to stretch and get out of the car, and don't forget to pack some treats for good behavior.

Here's to a happy holiday season and a very merry road trip!

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About the Author
Katrina Cramer-Diaz is a working mom with a background in education and plenty of experience in parenting. She lives in Virginia with her four children.

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