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By: Miriam Sasson

Drivers, watch out! Shaatra Mom’s on the road! She’s going on a several-hour journey with her family in… the car! If your heart’s racing and your stomach is fluttering just contemplating the thought, avail yourself of these necessary car trip tips suggested by those who’ve been down that road. Ready, set, go!

Plan Ahead   

Road trips are lots of fun! Yes, it’s true! With proper planning, you can create fantastic memories not only of your time together on vacation, but also in the car. 

First, get those technicalities out of the way. Don’t forget to fill ‘er up (the gas tank, that is)! GPS? Check. EZ Pass? Check. Bring along a stash of anti-nausea remedies like Dramamine pills or wristbands. Determine in advance, based on the number and ages of the children, what time of day is best for you to set out. Do you want to head out at night when your little ones will snooze? Or perhaps you like to head out early morning when they’re upbeat and your head is on straight? You may even choose to head out in the late afternoon, arriving directly at your hotel or lodgings. That way, you can settle yourselves in and tuck your exhaustion away under
a plush white blanket…

Keep ‘Em Busy 

Mom, entertaining the masses is a task that’ll most likely be yours if Daddy is behind the wheel, so buckle up! Music and story CDs go far in keeping the children occupied and relaxed. If you’re whizzing by trees and road markers for a substantial amount of time, however, your children may grow antsy after a while (antsy being a gross understatement). But the shaatra mother is not unnerved; she’s got a wide array of activities in store. Whip out those coloring books, copy papers, magnetic board games and road-sign activities. Make these fun by conducting tournaments, playing Simple Simon Says, and having drawing contests. Let your kids write letters – to grandma and grandpa or to a company like Coca Cola – and actually mail them out when you return. (Don’t forget to buy postcards for the way back!) Plus, keep kids busy by assigning them car jobs. Honorary positions include caretaker, to be in charge of baby; waiter, in charge of distributing nosh (a prestigious job, by the way); gamekeeper, to decide on all matters fun; and secretary, to ward off all “are we there yet?” queries that arise every couple of minutes.

Time to Munch    

To date, there are no conclusive studies showing a correlation between nosh consumption and behavior of traveling children. However, experience has proven that food is a crucial component of successful car trips. Food is simultaneously both filling and entertaining, and it somehow manages to be a catalyst for funny family memories. (“Remember when Daddy rode over a bump, and Joey’s juice squirted all over?!”) 

So, honk if you love chocolate! Well, maybe not chocolate, per se, but bring on the apples, bananas, sliced peppers, crackers, rice cakes, chips, popcorn,  and… okay, a little chocolate, too. Prepare water bottles or juice boxes, as well. (Try to limit liquids unless you plan to take a rest stop…) Do not pass “go” until you’ve stocked plastics, napkins, and tissues in your vehicle. Be sure that fingers are wiped clean and that snack bags end up in one spot for easy cleanup.

Brake For a Break

Even if you did all your homework and planned your road trip to perfection, your shaatra-mobile may be full of cranky kids after some time. This may manifest itself in the form of crying, nagging, bickering and all other stressful happenings over there in the back seats. When your ears are overdosing on claims of “Ma, her elbows are in my face” or “He’s stepping on my feet,” you know it’s time to make a beeline for the nearest rest stop. You, your husband and the children will feel so refreshed, and stretching those limbs will ready you for the next leg of the trip. 

Mothers, kudos to you (and your husbands) for investing your all into a fabulous road trip! Remember, it isn’t solely the destination that will leave you with wonderful family memories, but the car ride, as well. Bon voyage!