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I love road trips!! We once lived twelve hours from my parents. It was the first time I lived farther than thirty minutes from them and we moved their only grandchildren away from them. My third child, the first and only grandson, wasn’t even a year old yet. I felt bad that they would miss out on so much so I committed to make sure that we would make as many trips as possible. Of course, my husband couldn’t take that much time off, so I loaded up the van, complete with three kids (all under ten years old), and made the long drive every three months. As I look back now, those road trips were some of my very favorite times. Even when baby four joined us! I see many people cringe at the idea of being cooped up in a car with kids for any length of time but I loved using those road trips as a way to build our relationships.
Have a Plan
Don’t leave having a great road trip up to chance, have a plan. Any “free time” can easily translate into “fight time”. Have an arsenal of activities ready to go. Plan ahead of time where you plan to stop for gas and food. Do not allow too many snacks in the vehicle as this encourages too many unplanned bathroom stops! Make sure everyone gets out and moves when you do stop. Pack pillows and blankets for each person so they each have their own. Of course, depending on the length of your trip, you can always pack DVDs if you have a video player or allow electronics for games for really long trips, but really maximize this time to build relationships and don’t allow everyone to stick in earbuds and not communicate. Have activities planned that will include everyone. Need some ideas?
When we first started our road trips, I bought a collection of cassette tapes (does that age me??) of Adventures in Odyssey. I got tired of trying to catch local stations airing the stories because you know as soon as the story climaxes, you start losing the station, so I had to find an alternative. Thankfully, Focus on the Family still produces Adventures in Odyssey. I recently acquired their latest CD, Adventures in Odyssey (AIO #63) Up in the Air, which contains over two hours (and six stories) of character building stories. I don’t want to give any spoilers but it’s been a long time since I’ve listened to Adventures in Odyssey and (oh my!!!!) Eugene and Connie are married!!!! I have to admit that I suspected it would happen. The stories are still uplifting, funny, encouraging, and make great conversation starters. The stories on this CD cover the following themes:
- Finding what was lost — Find a Penny Parts 1 and 2 portray a mystery of a missing new wife. Wooten and Penny are on their honeymoon and only Wooten returns. He has lost his memory and his wife!
- True friendship — Friend or Foe is an awesome character building story, especially for teenagers. Connie’s half-sister Jules moves in and learns the hard way about choosing the right friends.
- God changes hearts — Have a Heart is our personal favorite. An old bully returns but has changed his ways. Could it be that his recent heart transplant is the cause of his new behavior?
- Revenge — The crew of B-TV discuss why revenge is not God’s way for Christians to act.
- Facing your problems — Jules is back in Crash Course and incorporates the help from the newest Adventures in Odyssey cast member, Buck Oliver, to help her learn to drive. Let’s just say it was a smooth ride.
Have a Heart sparked a great conversation on organ donation. Is it possible that an organ recipient can receive more from the donor than the organ itself? Are there memories or preferences embedded? When we are baptized and take on the name of Jesus, how do we change? As a homeschool mom, I love pulling together as many subjects on the same topic. I love when Christian stories provide great conversations on not only spiritual things but also science or history.
Focus on the Family is also giving away thirty copies of this CD so be sure to enter their giveaway before October 31st, 2017.
Remember the old license plate game? We have played it with trying to find every state and also trying to find a state for each letter of the alphabet. You can also expand this to see who finds the most personalized plates. How about I Spy? We’ve played this with spying the first blue Volkswagon Beetle Bug. We’ve recently added seeing who can find the first vinyl stickers for In Memory…, the outline of deer heads (I think this might be a logo??), monogram (hey, we’re in Georgia where they monogram everything), Proud Parent of…., etc. Pack some mini wipe off boards and markers so they can play hangman, tic tac toe, dots, etc. Lately, we pack pencils and blank notebooks because my boys love to draw and make up their own superheroes and villians. I have a Travel Scavenger Hunt that you can print off to include in your arsenal.
We have a road trip tradition. To this day, it still binds us together. Even now, with older kids and most of us living in different states, when we are together driving, one of the kids will start singing our song. Our road trip tradition is singing After Today from The Goofy Movie.
I had a pastor once that was naturally very shy. When he felt called to preach, he had to try to overcome his shyness and fear of speaking to people. He would go on elevator rides and force himself to strike up a conversation. After all, where can the people escape? He had a captive audience whether they were willing or not. It helped him to get past his fear of speaking. Don’t let the opportunity of a road trip go to waste. You have a captive audience. Get unplugged. Communicate. Some of my most meaningful conversations with any of my kids have happned in the car. Don’t dread your next road trip, maximize it!