Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Tips for road travel…

Look no further, I have all the secrets to successful road travel with kids right here. Yeah right..like anyone could figure that out. But I do have some useful tips.

The most important part of any trip is

Planning.

The first thing you have to do is obviously, pick your destination. It could be a couple of hours away or days away from where you live. The important thing is to plan it properly. I would suggest here a couple of good websites that I have used in the past with very good results. To get a good map and directions, mapquest.com is one of the best tools. Also Bellhop.com offers some useful hints for planning a road trip. For example, at Bellhop.com, you can calculate how much gas you will need for a particular distance based on the kind of car you are driving. You can also get the exact number of miles from point to point and decide on your night stop or any halts along the way.
A really neat gadget for road travel is the navigation system. Most of the newer model cars and minivans often come equipped with one, but if you have an older model, investing in a navigation system is well worth it. We ourselves bought one before our trip to Arizona and it came in very handy. There are several models available at Circuit City or Best Buy and you can find the right one to suit your needs best. I am sure other stores might carry them as well. We shopped around and found one that best suited our needs. The price ranges from around $700.00 to $1000.00. This works out less expensive than having one installed in your van or car. Not only does the navigation system give you exact directions, but you can also access several other ‘points of interest’ along the way like restaurants, drug stores, gas and stuff. The navigation system also gives you the exact time of arrival at your destination. I also like to keep my road atlas handy.

Another important part of planning your road trip is to book your hotel for a night stay (if necessary). My favorite website, I have to say is, expedia.com, I have used this website many times in the past with excellent results. In fact, the one time we did book a hotel through them that we didn’t like, and had to leave in a hurry (someone was sleeping in our room!) we got a full refund.It's best to stick to popular hotel chains. I have even booked several flights and actually planned complete trips through them with very satisfactory results.
Of course you can choose any travel website from the multitude available like, Orbitz, hotels.com, Travelocity, cheap tickets and several others, and get really good results as well. You can compare the rates and choose the one that works best for you.
When you travel by road, its always best to start early so you can beat the morning rush hour and make good time. I have noticed that we tend to cover more distance before noon.

Once you have planned your trip carefully, you have to think about..

Packing.

I like to say pack really light. Comfy clothes, preferably cotton clothes work best. For kids, always keep an extra set handy where you can get your hands on them easily. Don’t throw all your stuff in the trunk. Trust me, the minute you toss everything in the trunk, you’ll need something.
The kids can wear flip flops or sandals in the car, so they can take them off and get comfy when they want to and they are also easy to put back on when you stop. (too many minutes spent on tying laces taught me this, specially, when they need to really go to the bathroom!) Pack an extra pair of shoes for when you arrive at your destination, depending on your activities planned.
Remember to pack some emergency medicines like Tylenol(adult and childrens), pepto bismol or any other antacid for that upset stomach that has a way of creeping up on you at the wrong time, any necessary allergy medication and a few Band-Aids. You also would want to pack some chewing gum and hard candy. These really help if there is a sudden change in air pressure. The change in air pressure sometimes results in terrible ear pain, especially in young children.

Now my favorite part, food.. I think this the most important thing you need to think about when traveling with kids. Pack plenty of snacks and drinks. Kids can go from being stuffed to starving within minutes of passing that elusive McDonalds on a deserted highway. Also by packing your own snacks, you can keep it moderately healthy. My favorites are baked cheese snacks, crackers, cookies (although you might want to avoid anything with too much sugar) and trail mix bars.

For drinks, I like to carry plenty of water, juice boxes and of course coke or other caffeneited drinks for the driver and navigator. You may not want the kids filling up on soda and then bouncing off the walls of the van. Good breakfast foods for the road are snack size cereal boxes, pop tarts.

I also like to carry lunch for the first day of travel as later mostly we have to eat out. PB&J sandwiches work really well as also cheese or boiled egg ones. I, of course, love some good Indian food and so like to carry flavored rice dishes or stuffed Indian bread. These keep really well for a long time and can be stored in an air tight container and kept in the ice box to retain freshness.

Of course while packing don’t forget your essentials, no I don’t mean underwear..of course you’ll pack that. What I’m talking about is a couple of rolls of travel size toilet paper. You’d be surprised at the number of rest areas that do not have enough toilet paper in the stalls!! I know, yuck!! Also make sure you have some sanitizing hand lotion as again, there are faucets at the rest areas, but sometimes they don’t work. And when they do work, chances are you wont want to touch them! Sanitizing wet wipes come in handy too. Of course some rest areas are really good and provide all the essentials. I have to be fair about that.

Last but not least, pack plenty of stuff to keep the kids busy and occupied. Books are great. Also little toys and coloring books come in handy. My older son, an artist of sorts loves to sketch or draw cartoons. That kept him busy for a long time. When they are too tired to do anything or just want to wind down, a movie on the portable DVD system is really good. Most newer model vans come equipped with this too, but you can also buy one at any of the stores. The price ranges from about $100 to $300. We chose one for about $200. This came with two sets of ear phones, a carrying case, remote et al. The carrying case is supposed to go around the back of the front seats and the DVD player can be hung from it. We just couldn’t figure it out though, and so our ice box acted as a good little table to prop it up on.
Of course, don’t forget your toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and lotion and a hair brush.
Now that you have everything you need, what are you waiting for? Pick up your camera, bundle the kids in and set forth into the unexplored beyond and have the time of your life..

14 Comments:

At 10:32 PM, Blogger couch potato said...

Nice little homily on how to travel. My own experience has led me to believe that travelling light is travelling right. However, with kids, as you say, travelling right doesn't necessarily mean travelling light.
One other point I did forget to mention is stick to vegetarian or vegan food along the way. It helps if the food is non-spicy too.
Yogurt too is handy to have around and you can buy smaller containers that can be eaten regularly to keep the body cool and comfortable. Great medicine for insomniacs that one.

 
At 12:13 AM, Blogger Gangadhar said...

Wow..those're nice tips indeed..very useful..quite informative too..
great one,TP!!

take care

 
At 7:19 AM, Blogger travel plaza said...

Couch Potato,
Thanks for some more great pointers about food during travel. I had forgotten to mention about yogurt and non-spicy food.

Gangadhar,
Thanks so much for your encouragement.

 
At 8:45 AM, Blogger Jimmy said...

Very good post....some good tops.

 
At 11:20 AM, Blogger Gangadhar said...

you're most welcome,TP..
I'm glad that i've given encouragement..You inspired us acually!!!

 
At 6:43 PM, Blogger travel plaza said...

Jimmy,
Thanks very much.

 
At 2:32 PM, Blogger Dav said...

good post... if only I had kids. :)

 
At 2:43 PM, Blogger travel plaza said...

Thanks Dav:))

 
At 8:27 PM, Blogger Travelin' Tracy said...

I will keep this in mind if I have kids...hopefully I will one day! Then I can be an expert mommy traveler!

 
At 9:41 PM, Blogger travel plaza said...

Tracy, I'm sure you'll be an expert mommy traveler someday:)

 
At 3:38 PM, Blogger Kartik said...

aahh..stuffed paratha and achaar (or at least I think it is)..yummy! Good tips for traveling with kids. Don't have kids of our own yet, but we had a visit from the terrible twosome - our 3yr old niece and 4 yr old nephew and we learnt a lot about driving with kids !;-)

 
At 4:35 PM, Blogger travel plaza said...

Kartik,
Yup, you got it right, it is stuffed paratha and achaar. I'm sure you had lot of fun with your niece and nephew. Kind of preview before you have kids of your own:)
Driving with kids is quite an experience, but you get used to it.

 
At 11:22 PM, Blogger Ravenbajan said...

Great tips!

I'm familiar with "West Indian" food (my family hails from the Caribbean), but not "Indian" food. Your picture looks very interesting... and yummy!

 
At 12:10 PM, Blogger travel plaza said...

Ravenbajan,
Indian food is great. I grew up eating that every single day and love cooking it too. If you like spicy food, Indian food is just right.
Thanks for stopping by and for your great comments:)

 

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