Just kidding, but if he DID give me tips, I'm sure he'd say,
"Why not try one of those new 'stay-cations' everyone keeps talking about?!"
Poor Clark had some rough trips. Hopefully, we will not repeat his mistakes.
Before I start with number one, I must encourage you to pray about your trip. Ask God for clear wisdom about when to leave, where to go, and the activities you engage in. Pray for safety, patience, and a cool head when things don't go your way. I believe He will truly answer these prayers and guide your trip. And encourage your kids to do the same. Start each day that you are away with prayer as a family.
Don't leave Him out.
And now, five tips for trips!
1. Set the Bar Low.
I know this sounds really pessimistic, but I'm just tryin' to keep it real. Kids have a way of taking your best plans and making them impossible or really miserable sometimes. When we had two little boys, ages 4 and 2 (many moons ago) we went to an indoor water park/hotel in the Wisconsin Dells, thinking they would just have a blast. Turns out, the 4-year old boy was deathly afraid of the big bucket in the park that dumped water every few minutes or so. We still had a good time, but it didn't happen the way we expected.
Make plans, keep it real, and set the bar low. Which leads to #2...
2. Recognize your Children's Limits...and your own!
I will never again travel anywhere without a few bags of snacks and water bottles. I've learned the hard way that NO ONE has fun when they are hungry, thirsty, or haven't had a decent night's rest. And it never hurts to stop when you're ahead, rather than literally dragging your kids out of a children's museum. Not that I would know anything about that...
3. Controlling the Electronic Beasts
Do I love our in-car DVD player? Yes, yes I do. It has saved many a moment of insanity for this mama. But on long road trips, it can become like the soundtrack to our travels, which bothers me. I usually go with one movie and then a break for another hour where they can rummage through their backpacks which are packed with books, activities, and any other knick knack that will keep them busy.
Also give Adventures in Odyssey CDs a chance, along with any other books on CD you might have. The Chronicles of Narnia by Focus on the Family is worth every penny! That being said, leave some time for SILENCE. There are many times we simply invoke a "no talking" rule in the vehicle. Children (and parents!!) need quiet. They need silence. It's healthy for their little brains. It might help to also say, "If we can have silence for 30 minutes, then we'll each have a piece of candy." Bribery, people. Try it sometime.
4. Give Mama a Break! (and Daddy, too!)
Being in the same room/car with your kids for hours and hours on "vacation" can make anyone kooky. If at all possible, give each other a break. Let Daddy go have a morning run all by himself. Tell your husband you are going to browse through that cute gift shop for just a half-hour. That time can do wonders for your mental state.
5. Document the Excursion
I've read that one of the best ways to make ourselves happy in the present is to recall the happy times from the past, so make the effort to print out those pictures, gather (meaningful!) souvenirs, or take videos that can really boost your happiness later. It's true, isn't it? One of my favorite things to do is look at the small scrapbooks I've made of past trips we've taken together. It reminds me that although road trips and family vacations can have beastly moments, they are some of our most treasured memories later on.