Saturday, September 4, 2010

Top 12 Tips For Road Tripping With Tots and a Farmer

C.W. and M.W. riding in style in "Hi-Ho Silver" (Mama's pickup). Yes, they say "hi ho Silver...awaaaayyyy!" when we take off :)

We recently took a 10 day road trip as a family from North Dakota to Pennsylvania so my 3 year old, C.W., could be the flower girl in my cousin's wedding. This took some serious planning because it is VERY difficult to just pick up and leave the farm while the crop is in the ground. I am grateful for our assistant farm manager, Ben, who stayed behind picking up the slack and working some very long, hot days while we were gone. THANK YOU BEN!

This is Ben. Sorry Ladies, I know the combo of the bib overalls and sunglasses is really something, but he's already got a girlfriend...and we really like her :)

Yes, Jeremy and I spent over FORTY-SIX hours in drive time alone (without potty breaks), and yes, we are still happily married :)

Here's a count down of our top 12 tips that made the trip a relatively stress-free success:

12. CAFFEINE. Jeremy, my farmer husband, who usually works at least a 12 hour day at least 6 days a week, is a coffee addict but even I grabbed a soda (it's called "pop", if you're in ND) on occasion so we could eat a quick supper put the kiddos in their PJ's and drive late into the night while they snoozed in their car seats.

Jeremy's absolute favorite flavor of coffee is Dunkin' Donuts Original Blend, Medium Roast. He will empty the entire display at our local grocery store just to make sure he doesn't run out when he's working long days/nights in the fields.

11. WIPES. When I asked Jeremy for his top road trip tips he said "OMG, wipes...lots of wipes!" Having extra "baby wipes" and a roll of paper towels on hand made for quick clean ups because my children are just like their mother- they spill EVERYTHING and after using numerous highway rest areas, you can't sanitize enough!

THIS is why we stocked up on wipes...the remnants of a s'more.

10. KIDS TUNES that won't drive you crazy. I made two new CD's for this trip just to have some fresh music. I downloaded the girls' favorite themes from PBS cartoons and threw in some Jack Johnson and Taylor Swift that we could all enjoy.

9. NAP TIME TRAINING. Three weeks before we left, at every nap time and bedtime I began playing the same CD of lullabies. By the time we went on our trip when I put the CD in it was a matter of minutes before the kids would zonk out. I had read that this worked, but it AMAZED me how effective it really was. Only problem is that it was so soothing pretty soon Jeremy, who is accustomed to the fast pace of farming and rocking out in the combine and tractor, was passed out too!

8. TRAVEL JOURNAL. I brought along a new composition notebook and a roll of scotch tape. Along the way, C.W. saved little mementos and we taped them in her journal. Each day she would tell me her favorite memories of our trip and I would record them for her and she would make a little drawing to go along with it. It is precious! I still haven't started her baby scrapbook (and she's nearly four! eek!) so I knew this would be a quick and fun way to have an "instant scrapbook" of our trip as soon as we got home. She is very proud of it and shows it to everyone who visits!

7. SNACK BOWLS. Pre-pack little "take and throw" snack bowls for the entire trip. Each morning just pick the day's snack bowls and hit the road. Also, my 1 year old had nearly mess-free snacks when I tucked the bowl in her bib pouch.

6. SURPRISE BOX. I'm a frugal farm wife, so months before our trip I began hiding away small toys/DVD's/play jewelry from around the house and wrapped them up individually. Putting small toys in the little favor bags we got from a recent wedding worked well too. I felt a little guilty saying to the kids "Gosh, I don't know where such-and-such got to" for a while, but the joy the surprise box brought far overrode the guilt. If the girls behaved themselves, each time we completed a leg of our journey, they got to pick an item out of the surprise box. It worked like a charm and it was FREE!

5. ARTS & CRAFTS BAG. I put together a little tote bag of crayons, markers, coloring books, sheets of stickers, pipe cleaners, and a mini clip board with pads of paper. I also printed out coloring sheets of CW's favorite characters and instructions for simple paper crafts. It made for many hours of creativity, but be sure to ration out the supplies.

4. FM TRANSMITTER for DVD player. This gadget allowed us to run the sound from the DVD player through the pickup's stereo system. I was impressed at the "theatre experience" in the back seat when we set the speakers on "rear" and if you want to listen along, you can. Jeremy says the movie "Cars" rocks on the surround sound! Our transmitter cost about $30 at Radio Shack.

3. No surprise here...DVD PLAYER. I'm not one to "plug in" my children. We don't have video games, and we borrow one movie a week from the local library, but boy oh boy was that DVD player handy! Take more DVD's than you think you will need. We watched two each day- one in the mid- morning and one after supper before bedtime. A lifesaver!

2. TOM TOM or whatever GPS gadget you prefer. It helped us plan an efficient route and find good stops along the way. It was pretty funny when C.W. asked "are we there yet?" and Jeremy responded "Nope. 17.3 miles remaining with light traffic until we reach our destination". We even caught C.W. saying "Thanks Mandy!" to the voice on the Tom Tom once when it told us to turn :) The Tom Tom appeased Jeremy, because he's used to having GPS in all our farm equipment. It was also good motivation when driving late at night to see the miles count down!

....and....drum roll please....the Wilson Family's Top Tip For Road Tripping...

ATTITUDE! We set it in our mind that we were leaving the farm behind and we were going to have a good time, no matter what :)
Except for daily calls to check in on things with Ben and mildly obsessive hometown weather checks on the radar app on Jeremy's cell phone (hey, we've got an operating loan to pay back with those crops in the field!), we were able to get away and make some wonderful family memories together.
We built in "fun" stops along the way. We visited water parks (,, a train museum ( and of course, Cabela's (twice). I'm thinking this pic of Jeremy at Cabela's will make the family Christmas card this year :)

Hope you've found these tips helpful! Good luck on your next trip!


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I love this article!! We took a shorter road trip this summer (about 16 hours round trip driving time) and I wish I had thought of half the things you list here!! Awesome ideas!! I'm bookmarking this one!

  3. Excellent write-up! I like this web blog very much cos It's a real nice post to read and incur information.Thank you for keeping this web-site, I will be visiting it again,soon... Hotel Frankfurt Oder