We've all said it: "We'll drive. It won't be that bad." We picture the adventure, the memories, the nostalgia of car trips when we were younger.
But if we're really being honest with ourselves, think back to those car trips. Someone was crying. Someone was puking. Someone was whining. That person very well may have been your poor mother. True story, my mom once got out and walked along the highway when all six of us kids wouldn't stop fighting. A long car trip can be daunting, but with our tips and tricks they don't need to be.
Here are 6 Road Trip Travel Hacks for Kids:
1. Manage your expectations
Rule one for a road trip is managing your expectations. This approach is very technical and clearly accurate (insert sarcasm), but if your kids are ages three and under and your trip is three hours or less, then add 15 minutes per child to your arrival time. If your kids are 4+ and your trip is 4 - 6 hours, then add 30 minutes per child to your arrival time. And if you're going more than six hours, then God speed and add at least an hour per person. Extra life hack: Just as everyone told you, "When they sleep, you sleep" when you had a newborn, we'll add: "When they pee, you pee." Nothing is worse than everyone finally sleeping at the same time and you being the weak link.
2. Dollar grab bags
One of my kids' favorite things about our road trips is that I always pack a grab bag for each kid. I hit the dollar store and get a giant birthday gift bag, and fill it with arts and crafts, sticker sets, special snacks and anything I can find that will keep little hands and minds occupied. It's like Christmas in the car and something they look forward to every time we're hitting the road. And once, when I completely spaced this fun hack, we made it a point to stop at a dollar store in every state so they could fill their own bags.
3. Plan your meals
I'm not saying pack a grilled chicken and broccoli dinner for your trek unless that's your thing. That is not my thing. I'm saying during hour one of your epic journey, have your kids come to a consensus about what they want to eat for each meal, and then incorporate it into your adventure. If they decide pizza sounds good for lunch, then, "We're on a mission to find pizza!" becomes our mantra. If everyone can agree on tacos, then that little Bell does wonders.
Whether you're all agreeing on Happy Meals or Chick-Fil-A or finding a local spot for a burger, figuring this out early and having kids write it down makes stopping without fighting so much easier. If one kid wants chicken nuggets and the other tacos, then we agree to stop at one for lunch and the other for dinner. Democracy in action.
4. Embrace the adventure
Scour your map for fun things to do along the way. Whether it's touring a random museum, finding a park using this awesome resource, hitting a town for local fare, having something to look forward to every few hours makes the trip feel less daunting. For our trip from Virginia to Kansas, I downloaded a song about each state we went through and when we saw the "Welcome to X" sign, we played it. The kids thought it was hilarious and kept them watching for state signs.
We stopped at downtown Charlottesville in Virginia for a great meal, caverns in West Virginia, a sweet hotel along the highway in Kentucky for the night, and then hit the Woodford Reserve Distillery for a tour and lunch, found a great park in Indiana, discovered awesome ice cream in Illinois, stopped and walked around the arch in St. Louis and a mere 30 hours after we left, arrived in Kansas City. Yes, driving 1,000+ miles is somewhere along the lines of The Worst, but breaking it up makes it so much better. If your kids are older, have them look at things to do and let them each pick one.
5. Be engaged
In addition to planning awesome stops, being engaged with your kids on your trip for at least part of it makes it more fun for everyone. I printed off a map of the fifty states and when kids saw a license plate from that state, they colored it in. We've also been known to play the alphabet game (find a word on a sign starting with each letter of the alphabet, in order), and car bingo. Because who doesn't love brief silence followed by piercing screams of "COW! COW! COW!"
We try to do daytime games so they can watch a movie or sleep when it's dark and I can listen to podcasts and power ballads.
6. Lollipops are your best friend
Speaking of silence, a surefire way to curb the "WHEN ARE WE GOING TO GET THERE?" and "HOW MUCH LONGER?" is giving everyone a plethora of lollipops. They can eat kale and organic cereal bars when you get there. For now, dole out those lollipops like it's Ibuprofen in your college dorm on a Sunday morning.
We've got your back on the travel hacks. Let our friends at PCSgrades help with all your other PCSing headaches! With realtor recommendations, moving and housing reviews, area guides and so much more, they're your go-to PCS resource.
This post sponsored by PCSgrades.
An Austrian soldier was apparently killed by two military working dogs that he was charged with feeding, the Austrian Ministry of Defense announced on Thursday.
She's photographed every major war of the last 20 years. Marine Corps boot camp was something else entirely
Conflict photographer Lynsey Addario has seen a hell of a lot of combat over the past twenty years. She patrolled Afghanistan's Helmand Province with the Marines, accompanied the Army on night raids in Baghdad, took artillery fire with rebel fighters in Libya, and has taken photos in countless other wars and humanitarian disasters around the world.
Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.
The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.
Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.
Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead
"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.
They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.
As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.
But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.
Federal court judge Reggie Walton in Washington D.C. has ruled Hoda Muthana, a young woman who left her family in Hoover, Alabama, to join ISIS, is not a U.S. citizen, her attorneys told AL.com Thursday.
The ruling means the government does not recognize her a citizen of the United States, even though she was born in the U.S.
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. -- The Marine Corps could train as many as eight co-ed companies at boot camp each year, and the general overseeing the effort is hitting back against those complaining that the move is lowering training standards.
"Get over it," Maj. Gen. William Mullen, the head of Training and Education Command told Military.com on Thursday. "We're still making Marines like we used to. That has not changed."
Mullen, a career infantry officer who has led troops in combat — including in Fallujah, Iraq — said Marines have likely been complaining about falling standards since 1775.
"I'm assuming that the second Marine walking into Tun Tavern was like 'You know ... our standards have gone down. They're just not the same as it they used to be,'" Mullen said, referring to the service's famous birthplace. "That has always been going on in the history of the Marine Corps."