Summer Road Trip

Summer is here, the days are long, and the nights are warm. Kids are filled with excitement and carefree whimsy. There are games to be played, sun to be soaked up, books to read, sights to see, beaches to visit, and amusement parks calling you in the name of family adventure. There are cottages to enjoy, lakes to be swooned over, and tent and trailer adventures waiting, complete with smore’s and insect bites. Not to mention family waiting to pinch your cheeks and over feed your children red dye #3. It’s all waiting for you…but first you have to get there.

Long live the road trip! No, let me rephrase that, long live the batteries in the electronic gadgets that will get us where we want to go without the kids pummeling each other in the back seat! Each time we saddle up for an asphalt adventure I say a little prayer of gratitude to the makers of MP3s, android phones, portable DVD players, Nintendo DS and PSP systems. I acknowledge the cleverness of repurposing the cigarette lighter into an auxiliary plug and I wonder how in the world my parents survived road trips without them? It usually doesn’t take long to find out. In my experience you have to keep those gadgets on hand at the ready, fully charged and accessorized; they get you through that first hour of picking up coffee, filling up with gas, stopping at the bank, stopping to reposition and test the security of your roof load. (Are we the only ones who always have something on the roof…a canoe, a roof top carrier, a kayak?) Gadgetry gets you through it.

Only for so long however, two, three, four hours on the road that can easily turn into seven, eight, nine if you find yourself in the confines of a 400 series parking lot is a long time even for your kids to be enamoured with technology. I know at home you plead them to take a break but out here on the open road the game changes. Eventually you will find yourself facing your road trip ‘old school’; the way our parents did in the station wagon or caravan. This is going to be great, can you feel it? Yay for harebrained schemes to get somewhere different!
You can and will survive! Keep some simple tips in mind.

• Pack great low sugar snacks in the cooler, pack water, Yes, I know that means extra pit stops but there is a reason this country is dotted along the country side with gigantic cow statues and Adirondack chairs the size of small apartment buildings, they were put there by our forefathers to ease road trip monotony. Get out stretch your legs, make your pit stop, take a picture standing beside the ginormous apple.
• Give someone the map. Silence your GPS, you can get there without Samantha, it’s just one long continuous stretch of highway to anywhere after all. This is a great opportunity for kids to learn map reading and Canadian geography not to mention the creative art of map re-folding.
• Play a game. Research some road trip games or re-invent one from your childhood. Our favorite is the alphabet game where each person in rotation finds a word that begins with the next letter in the alphabet; airport, boulevard, caution…you get the point. The trick is not finding your word Mom or Dad until chaos threatens to break in the backseat, delay, delay, delay then reel everyone back in with ‘Do not Enter!’
• Hand them the unexpected. Latest issue magazines, puzzle books, colouring books, new crayons, travel connect 4 or checkers. In your mom-bag filled with Gravol, ibuprofen, sanitizing hand gel, tissues and wet wipes keep a stockpile of ‘WOW! cool’.

Above all enjoy this time! Turn up the radio and sing along or turn it off and make up your own songs. The adventure to get to where you are going is the perfect time to reconnect, reacquaint and share some silliness. The opportunity to enjoy such closeness is rare, soak it in, have some fun. I promise you will either laugh your way to your destination or you will bore the kids back to their plugged in state. Whatever gets you there I say!

Enjoy your fabulous summer adventures; these days are fleeting, the sunny ones and the ones that find you adventuring as a family.

You can also find Michelle at her blog The Space Between Raindrops, sharing wisdom, gratitude and humour.

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