We are about to depart on a journey of a thousand miles. It is literally 1,062 miles from our driveway to our destination in Colorado. I’m bracing myself for this trip. Being in the car with the family for as many hours as it takes to make this trek can turn into a toxic situation. The kids get bored and whiney, I get tired and cranky, and Kristi gets caught in the crossfire. Over the years we have learned a few relationship preserving techniques for arriving at our destination with our sanity intact.
Reading a Book Together
Vacation travel has much improved with iPods and installed DVD players. Many miles are spent in peace and semi-silence while the kids are engrossed in a movie they have already seen or by listening to music. Sometimes this is a welcome break if there has been bickering. But we have found that a reading a book aloud captures our children’s attention just as well. I usually read to the family while Jason is driving, and everybody else listens. The kids take a couple of turns reading, too. I feel they learn and are even stretched as they get involved in a plot they might not have chosen had they only been reading for their own pleasure. I have been shocked at how well they listen; from Hayden who is fifteen to Rylie who is six. The teacher in me also stops ever so often to check for understanding, to make predictions or just to discuss what we think about what just happened in the story.
Some of our reads have included The Bridge to Terabithia, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and The Great Gilly Hopkins.
I’m goal oriented when it comes to traveling. For some odd reason I find great satisfaction in getting to the end of a trip as quickly as possible. This is more true for the return trip than it is for our departure. A few years ago I started a practice while on the road that has served to feed my sick desire to arrive ahead of schedule. I call it travel dehydration. Stopping to use the bathroom adds unwanted hours to an already long trip. I’ve found that when the sodas and juices and water are limited, the only time we have to stop is for gas and food. The fewer times we have to stop, the faster we get to our goal.
Jason is the only fan of travel dehydration. The trip coming home is shorter in hours, but the dehydration suffered causes irritability, then finally resignation resulting in sleep. Thankfully he doesn’t enforce this cruel practice while traveling to our Colorado destination. I’m also thankful that he gladly drives both ways. I like to have an ice-chest full of drinks and little snacks. Whoever gets the back seat to themself, also has the duty of serving as snack attendant. I for one tend to get cranky on an empty stomach. The snacks nourish and help the time to pass too. I keep a small trash bag so that we can clean as we go. Sometimes that works.
Breaking Up the Trip
One thing that Kristi and I look forward to on these long trips is the great food we will find along the way. Since we have made this trip to Colorado together over 17 times, we have become familiar with the best eating spots. But even when we are going places we have never been before, I find it worthwhile to research and plan out our culinary experiences ahead of time. Anticipating great food helps us to break our trip into manageable sized pieces.
Knowing that a 24 oz. ribeye awaits me at the Big Texan in Amarillo helps me stay focused on my westward destination. I’m already anticipating a cup of perfectly made espresso in Rotan, NM at Enchanted Grounds. We have even timed our arrival in Colorado to coincide with the all you can eat stark night at our resort. These stops along the way make the entire vacation seem a little more spectacular.
What travel techniques help you survive in the car on vacation?
What are your best memories of being on the road?
How do you pass the time with the kids?
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