July 16, 2015

Planning a Road Trip with Kids- Moss Trek 2015

We have taken many road trips with our family over the years.  So many wonderful memories have been made in the car along with many wonderfully awful moments.  

We love to tell of the time that Todd got pulled over for speeding.  We had four young children who were screaming in the back.  The cop looked in the back, thanked us for keeping them in their seats, and told him to drive safely.  Ha!

Usually, our kids get sick at big family reunions.  I will never forgot the trip home when our coolant hose got a hole and our car was overheating.  As we were gliding into a nasty motel, Drew said he didn't feel good and he started throwing up all over everything in the back of our mini-van.  All the kids followed that night! Todd and I tired, sick, and trying to wash out pukey-diareah pjs in a nasty motel bathtub.  Oh, what a fun memory!  

Trips with family are not yet vacations for us.  We are careful to call them TRIPS not VACATIONS.  Trips are hard work-- but these are my best work!  Although my kids go to public schools, I educate them.  I homeschool everything I really want them to be and know.  Our family trips are a huge part of MY effort to homeschool, build unity, and create memories.

The Brainstorm:
I am definitely the optimistic dreamer and Todd is the (slightly pessimistic) logistical realist.  I have to listen to his concerns and sometimes push past his road blocks with my enthusiasm as we plan.  He pushes through my burn out with his determination as we struggle through those last hours of the night on our trip.  

We're a good team.  But, we definitely disagree!  That's normal.  Sometimes I even cry.  I think that's normal too.  

I don't have a husband who thinks it's fun to stop at 20 historical sights with 7 children in 5 days.  But, I do have a husband who trusts me, tries hard, and ALWAYS ends the trip with praise and admiration.  (I'm the enthusiasm at the beginning and he's the enthusiasm at the end.)  

I guess I'm trying to say- don't blame someone else for the trips you don't take.  Learn to work together and focus on your individual strengths.  It's ok to push through objections, marriage is about giving and taking and becoming together.  Trips are going to take endurance beginning, middle, and end!

Todd likes me to talk data to him, he likes specific traveling hours, room prices, visiting hours.

The Plan:
We planned our trip this year in one morning.  We are driving from New York to Idaho and we're stopping at many historical sights along the way.  We're calling it "Moss Trek 2015".  Persecution was strong as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized.  Early Saints (like the Native Americans) were pushed from place to place.  We are starting at the birthplace of Joseph Smith in Sharon, Vermont, and ending at Yellowstone National Park.

Here is our trip itinerary: 


Tully to Malone- 3.5hrs

Wilder Farm

Ferry to VT

Malone to Sharon- 3.5hrs

JS Birthplace

Sharon to Tully- 6hrs


Palmyra Pagaent


To Palmyra

Temple, printing press, grove, Harris farm, Whitmer farm?


Tully to Kirtland- 5hrs

Kirtland Temple, Whitney Store

Kirtland to Dayton- 3hrs

Fairfield Inn, Dayton, OH


Dayton to Navoo- 7hrs

Carthage, Navoo Pageant

NavooFamilyInn, Navoo, IL


To Independence stop at Adam (4.5hrs)


Liberty Jail

To Council Bluff- 3hrs

Winter Quarters

To Kearny- 3hrs

Fairfield Inn, Kearney, NB


To Martin's Cove-7hr

To Rock Springs- 4hrs

America's Best Value Inn, Rock Springs, WY


To Rexburg- 4hrs

The Hotels:
We made hotel reservations and enter every hotel and historical sight we want to stop out into our PlanBe Calander Ap, and as a contact in our phone.  So, it's easy to get directions on the road.  We like Fairfeild Inn.  We need two rooms or a suite.  It cost us about $200 per night.

The Food:
We decided together what meals we would pack and the meals we would eat out.  We try to stay at a hotel with breakfast, eat one meal at a rest stop picnic table and eat one meal at a restaurant. 

I came up with a meal plan and shopping list.  
It doesn't cost us too much extra to eat on trips because I just use my normal grocery budget.

This time I used a different sticker for each day and as I shopped, I just stuck a sticker on the food I bought.  When we loaded the food in the car, we divided each day into a different bag.  It was fun, but you really don't have to be that specific.

The Snacks::
We ususlly have carrots, celery, trail mix, beef jerky, apples, snap peas, raisins, wheat thins, nuts, twizzler nibs, fig bars or granola bars, fruit snacks, pretzels, dried mangos, some candy, gum for the driver, and water bottles with those pop-up tops and sharpie names.  I like to pass back snacks in plastic cups with their names on them.

I try to bring healthier food because if you eat junk, you feel like junk the next day.  
I try to bring fun snacks because this makes the trip special and fun.

One of my favorite tricks when kids are getting restless is to say that kind, happy children can earn $1 to spend at the next rest stop.  This keeps kids happy for one tank of gas in anticipation, and happy the second tank of gas as they stuff their face with Big League Chew.

The Entertainment:
I start out pretty deliberate with our trip.  As the day progresses, they are less excited to let me choose what we listen to.  I LOVE to choose really neat music.  One year (when my kids were barely reading) I printed out the Messiah and we sang along together.  

We love Wee Sing and Scripture Scouts, Hank Smith and Junie B Jones.  I try to play classical, inspirational and fun talk tapes, lots of books on tape.  This year I bought a new Ultimate Broadway cd and a few classic movies.  We've done Phantom of the Opera and LesMisrables, Wicked, and Mickey's Patriotic Songs.  

You don't need to plan hours and hours of entertainment.  In fact, if you only have a few CDs, they listen to them more than once and they MEMORIZE them.  These CDs become the soundtracks of their childhood.  

I am NOT a fan of individual electronics (at least not before lunch or even dinner).  I love that families get to experience life together.  Big kids remember their childhood because they have to sing Wee-Sing songs with their younger siblings.  Little kids learn so much listening to books above their grade level.  It's great to do things together.  The kids also learn that the world doesn't revolve around them.  It's ok to be bored sometimes.

One trip we memorized songs of the state capitals and Fifty Nifty United States.  I taped a map to the ceiling and a picture of us in our mini-van that we moved across the map as we travelled.  My kids still use this as a talent- they can say all 50 stated alphabetically in less than 2 minutes.

We love to memorize while we travel. We start with our morning devotional right when we get in the car.  Song, prayer, scriptures, thought, and a little memorizing.  Sometimes it is formal, often it's more impromptu. 

This trip (well, for the past month) we are memorizing The Family: A Proclamation to the World.  I love the lessons we teach as we explain big words and big concepts like "We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife."  

I guess my point is, hours together in the car are really great hours to pour into little brains the things you want in their brain!  
Doctrine & Covenants 6:32 (33-34) is our theme scripture for this trip.

We had a little, impromptu, family devotional.  I had the kids push the coffee table- it didn't move.  Then I told them to push it towards the tv.  They all got on one side and pushed in the same direction.  It moved quickly.  We talked about the power of our whole family "touching one thing" with the same goal and the same direction!  So cool.

This was NOT planned.  But, it was beautiful.  I felt prompted to look-up and adopt our theme scripture.  I wrote it up quickly.  

We memorize by looking at the first letter of each word in the scripture-- like this:
My young kids memorize even better than my older kids.  Memorizing is a great equalizer in large families-- the big kids really respect smart little kids who memorize.

It's good to plan, but you don't need a plan to teach. Often the best plans develop with time.

To Do:
We play games together, the ABC game-finding letters out the window, liscense plate game, hangman, the dot game, just look around online and print out a folder full of fun things to do in the car.  Bring a few sharpened pencils or pens.  Origami and paper dolls are great.  Mad Libs are fun and get the poop laughter flowing.  Turn off the electronics and sing together!  

Oh, remember how fun it used to be to be in the car?  It is fun to use your imagination to do things.  

One more secret I've learned-- if you want your younger and older children to sit reverently through church or long car rides, TEACH THEM TO SING and THINK.  Kids who SING during church ARE getting their energy out the way they were meant to.  

Kids go stir crazy doing nothing for a long time.  SO-- break up the trip with SONGS.  Sing and do actions.  Ask questions, let them use their brains!!  

I don't even know many clinically diagnosed ADHD kids who can't sit for an hour playing a video game.  Why?!  Because they are engaged with their mind.  Kids can sit in a car for a long time when you engage their minds.

Um, let them look out the windows!!  
(We always pretend to see African animals in the trees-- I have gotten my little boys through hours of trips telling then to look for the monkeys!!)

Honestly-  don't start out with electronics.  Save them for the night hours when you need them to zone out.

You can also tell your kids to take a nap. Obviously this training begins at home, but children who have learned to go to sleep at home will also sleep in the car.

I might give them one last snack if they get fussy and then say "Take a nap."  If they fuss after that I just keep whispering, "Shh, go night-night.  Close your eyes."  And, they do.  Try it.  

Big kids will sleep too!  Just tell them "No more snacks until after we all take a little nap."  Put on some quiet music or an adult book and keep happily reminding them it's nap time.  They really will sleep.

Oh, we really do love road trips!!
Do you love road trips?
What are your best tips?

This post was written while listening to 2 CDs of Ultimate Broadway CD, and one Hank Smith talk tape.  We ate one bag of  Boom Chicka-Pop corn, ate nectarines, folded oragami, and the two youngest took naps.  We are almost at the Almonzo Wilder Farm (we love Farmer's Boy so much)!  I'm SO excited.
So is Todd, trust me.
Road trips are the best!!
Life is good.


Kajsa Pace said...

This is awesome! Thanks for all the great tips! Enjoy your "trip" (love that you changed the name from vacation to trip!) Sometimes it is easy to go straight for the DVD's in car rides since that is the norm. Thanks for the encouragement to try something more engaging! We are in Idaho Falls, but visit family in Utah often so while the car rides aren't super long they still can get a little painful. lol We will try music and books on tape next time. :)

Stephanie said...

What a coincidence! I just finished printing off some road trip games for my kids since we leave tomorrow for a trip to Texas! I love all of your ideas and totally ditto the music and books on tape. I just bought two new Wee Sing albums just for the trip and the kids can't wait to hear them! You are an ambitious woman, and I love how purposeful you are about parenting. Our kids are going to have fabulous road trip memories! Drive safely. And don't kink your neck by looking back at/helping the kids in the car all day. Lol. : d

wendron9 said...

Have fun on your trip. I love the birthplace. You may even find wild berries if you hike up Patriarch Hill. Many happy memories there. I love how the older kids are in charge of younger ones and there is always someone different to sit next to. bdunstan

Shelly Stevenson said...

We did the trip from NY to Nauvoo last summer. Just a couple of suggestions that we enjoyed. You may want more time in Nauvoo. There is sooooooooooooo much to do there. The wagon ride is fun, even your little kids would enjoy it.(Tickets are needed for some things and some shows some shows can be reserved over the phone but some you have to get early in the morning. Call the Nauvoo visitors center today to ask questions if you are interested in anything that requires a ticket. In every home missionaries will tell you wonderful spiritual stories that took place. There is a delicious custard place there called Annie's (I think). It is on main street. The pizza from the gas station Casey's is pretty good and pretty inexpensive compared to the marginal buffet's in town. Have a fantastic trip!!

jenifer said...

I copied your comment Shelly and have referred to it often in Nauvoo. Thank you!

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