I was recently asked by The J.M. Smucker Company to create share my own experience and helpful tips for family snackations. I loved the concept and have chosen to share this upcoming SNACKATION my family has planned.
For the past several weeks I’ve been talking about my son’s impending departure for college. Well, the fateful day is finally upon us and we are in the process of sorting, packing, and shopping for the journey. Since he is going to school halfway across the country, we’re making a family road trip out of the event. With my nerves already on edge over sending my first born child out into the world without me, I’m taking extra precautions to make sure the trip goes smoothly.
From previous road trips, I know we run the risk of awakening the moody, unpredictable monster within me if we don’t safeguard against certain dangers. These are:
- Frequent unplanned stops that prolong our travel time
- Too much time in the car without changing positions/seats
- Bickering between siblings out of boredom or because no one will share items
Thankfully, equipped with hindsight, I’ve come up with a plan to avoid these problems on our upcoming trip.
Avoid Frequent, Unplanned Stops
The major culprit in these situations is my youngest daughter who often decides right AFTER we’ve pulled away from a stop that she absolutely, positively has to use the restroom immediately. In the past we thought we had nipped the problem in the bud by asking everyone at each stop if they needed anything (e.g. to use the restroom). This trip, there will be no requests. Everyone will get out at every stop to stretch their legs, use the restroom, wash their hands, and throw away garbage. This will also help with our next initiative.
Avoid Too Much Time Sitting in One Position
My kids fight constantly over who gets to sit where in the car. For this trip, we’re mapping out a schedule of planned stops that will have us getting out of the car at regular 3 hour intervals, for a total of four legs. Since I have four children, this works out perfectly for the children to rotate seats at each stop so that they each get equal time in every single seat. Plus, with our plan to avoid unplanned stops, everyone will have ample opportunity to stretch and get their blood circulating throughout the trip.
Prevent Sibling Bickering
This is perhaps my most unrealistic goal for the trip, but I’m using a few tricks that I hope will at least reduce the amount of bickering.
- I downloaded several games to our smartphones and Kindles that are group/team play (e.g. Heads Up, Trivia Crack, Would You Rather?) to keep our interaction fun
- Bribery – They’re each getting $25 in fives at the beginning of the trip. Every time I hear one (or more) of them arguing, they have to surrender $5. If someone manages to lose all of their money before the end of the trip, they can earn back $10 if they can avoid arguing for the rest of the trip.
- During our last road trip, we put an end to fights over song selection by creating a Pandora station that included two artist choices from each member of the family. This created a diverse and interesting play list for our ride. Because it worked so well, we’re using the same playlist for this trip and letting everyone add two more artists.
Stave Off Hunger (Without Breaking the Bank)
Since I already assigned a hefty budget to my ban bickering campaign, I needed to get creative with our food choices. With six of us (half of the group comprised of teenagers), eating out is expensive. So, on long road trips we like to pack as much food as we can so we only need to stop for one big meal — a “SNACKATION” approach to travel. The trick is finding the right mix of nutritious, portable food that everyone in the family likes.
I headed off to Walmart to stock up for our snackation preparation since I know I can always find the widest variety at great prices there. Because I learned the term “SNACKATION” from Smuckers, I decided to check out their products first. As you can see, there were so many choices that I really didn’t have to shop for much else! You can read more snackation ideas and see all of the products at the SNACKATION website.
I picked up a couple of varieties of Uncrustables and some Natural Jif To Go, then I went to the produce section to grab some clementines and celery to round out our snack selection. I decided to make a snack bag for each member of the family to keep with their travel bags. I used gallon sized zipper bags to keep items well contained and to double as crumb-containing garbage bags during the trip. I’m going to visit another Walmart once we get to the Midwest (thank goodness I can find a Walmart almost anywhere!) to stock up for our return trip. To keep things interesting I’m going to get some different snacks, probably some Jif To Go Dippers and Smucker’s Fruit Fulls.
I am also planning on bringing a small cooler bag with yogurt and cheese sticks. And, if I manage to stay on schedule, I intend to bake some blueberry muffins to hand out for breakfast.
There you have it, my four-pronged plan to make our first college drop off road trip a hit. Check back in another week or two for the post-trip report where I’ll share details from our trip and more tips!