With six people in the family, vacations usually mean a road trip. I don’t mind. Road trips remind me of traveling the USA with my grandparents when I was a kid. We drove 10 miles per hour under the speed limit and stopped at every scenic lookout between Oklahoma and the coast. My grandpa was fun. He would sing along to Tom T. Hall and the Statler Brothers, sometimes making up silly lyrics to make me laugh. My grandma organized and played games with me. Some of my best memories were made in the cab of his truck.
That’s not the first place I learned to be creative on a family trip. My parents kept up the tradition as well. I remember one family trip in particular in which each day started with an envelope of cash. If I remember right, one person was in charge each day that person had to plan all the activities and meals using only the cash in the envelope. As a teenager, I most likely thought it was dumb. As an adult, I now remember it as brilliant.
I have four sons. That means conversation, interaction and all the feels of a road trip don’t always get verbalized well. What’s a mom to do? I rely on coercion and bribery. For many (not all) of our family trips, I create a travel-brochure for them. It has the daily agenda so I’m not asked “What are we doing today?” six hundred times, and it also includes where we will eat. If you have boys, you know how important it is to provide assurance we are going to eat. (Click to see the example)In order to get them interacting and talking with each other, I write one or two questions for each day of the week. Some are serious and some are funny. In the beginning, all my questions were serious and deep but when I realized they weren’t going to sit around and pour out their hearts over hot tea and crumpets, I began to add a few knee-slapping funny questions. My children are funny and I love to hear them laugh.
Finally, there is one section dedicated to an activity that spans the length of the break. One year it was a photo scavenger hunt which was hysterical. I offer a prize at the end for the winner. You’d be surprised what an 18-yo is willing to do for a $20 Chick-Fil-A card. (Actually, you might not be surprised…especially if you have sons.) This year, the competition involves earning points for activities. Clean the kitchen after a meal – 100 pts, read a book in the car – 100 pts per hour, no crying on the mountain – 50 pts. (I have never qualified for this on a ski trip!) And I give points for each day you participate in the family discussion questions. See how I get what I want? #momskills
I’m highly administrative (which doesn’t always mean organized). This is one of those things they somewhat roll their eyes at, yet always embrace with great attitudes. I know they enjoy knowing what comes next and having something to fill in the gaps of a 10-hr road trip.
If you’d like to see my trip plans, here are some samples. (Email me for a Word doc you can edit.)