We are going on a road trip! This is the first road trip in 16 months, not including the RV. In the RV we can take a lot more–much different than a road trip in the family vehicle. There will be a lot of driving and staying in a hotel (motel? inn?–I can never remember the difference) for almost two weeks.
Daddy will be with us but working, so I’m not sure how things will go. We are kind of playing it by ear and going with the flow. While we don’t plan on spending a lot of time indoors, to be prepared, I’m making sure we bring materials and anything else we may need in case we find ourselves in the hotel for long periods of time. We are visiting Santa Fe and there is so much history, gorgeous outdoor areas to explore, and family/friends to visit that I’m hoping to only spend part of the morning and naps in our rooms.
Backstory: We had an Airbnb, but the owner canceled last minute leaving us to scramble for another place to rent, during a time that more places were booked. But thankfully we found something, albeit a lot tighter than we would have preferred. So things will be a little different than our last real road trip (post here).
So how did we do it?
-We leave really early in the morning. This made it so that we could drive while E and V took their naps. While they normally take only one nap at home, in the car they take a morning nap and then their standard two-hour nap around 12. It’s important that we sleep at night in a bed as being well-rested makes for more pleasant temperaments.
-E and V’s materials for the vehicle are ones that they aren’t familiar with. They are either new or items that they haven’t seen in a long time. This way they are interesting and will hold their attention for longer. This includes books. Here is a list of items that they love while traveling.
-They also don’t have access to all their materials at once. We start with basic materials and then move up to ones that require more participation from me.
-Breaks. We try to take a break every 2-3 hours, usually timing this to coincide with meals and snacks. Movement is so important and we want to make sure they still get that need in. It also helps with naps and bedtimes.
-Snacks, the last resort. I try to avoid giving E and V food of any kind in the car, but, following the advice of a specialist, we use snacks as a last resort. I try to avoid snacks in the vehicle due to it being a choking hazard and I don’t want them to develop the poor food habit of eating out of boredom.
At the hotel:
-Materials. Similar to vehicle materials I only brought materials that weren’t on their shelves at home. Therefore they are interesting and I find I need to bring less. I also try to bring items that can be easily packed, don’t take up a lot of space, and/or can be used in multiple ways. I also try to create activities, more on that in another post.
-Presentation. Even though we aren’t home, in is still important to create an inviting, prepared environment. I make sure to bring the appropriate trays and baskets, which can be nested together and don’t take up much space. I actually didn’t bring a lot of baskets because I knew that I would want to purchase some at a shop where they are made by locals, but trays were necessary.
-Makeshift shelves. Selves are wonderful and you see them in many Montessori homes, but they aren’t necessary and something that there generally aren’t much of, if any, in a hotel. But no worries, a wonderful Montessori environment can still be created. So what to do? Use what is available; tables, chairs, and floors. There are also often new things in the environment to explore, E has been really into the drawers, creating her own activity.
-A practical skills space for the child. This involves a little more creativity as we didn’t bring the materials we have at home nor did we plan on doing much of the practical life skills E and V enjoy, like cleaning (something I was excitedly looking forward to taking a two-week rest from but need to make sure the girls’ need for these skills are met). So while we may not have their items there are plenty of washcloths and they have been enjoying wiping down the desks, walls, and bedside tables in the hotel room.
-Comfies. E and V have a few comfort items but for this trip we only brought their horses and blankies as they are replaceable if necessary. It’s so important to have a few items of comfort when traveling.
Is there anything special you do to make family road trips more enjoyable?