Now that the girls are getting older and relatively self-sufficient (minus the shoe-tying! Kills me!) it’s easy for me to romanticize the early years. I got a little teary the other day when Andy erased all 3,000 Backyardigans episodes on the DVR to make room for iCarly and American Idol. And carrying Phoebe’s little art table and chairs to the curb outside my house nearly brought me to my knees. But I can tell you one thing I’ll never be sentimental about – traveling with them as babies when they required bottles and pack-n-plays, and snap-n-gos , and breast pumps, and carseats, and crayons and pacifiers that would inevitably get lost or dropped on the airport’s bathroom floor. Traveling has gotten so much easier with the girls — even our bi-annual 13-hour road trip to South Carolina. Thirteen hours! I can’t believe I’m saying this, but packing the car has actually become fun. Here’s what we lined up for the trip.
CDs. It’s crucial to have brand new music for these trips. We burned five CDs for the trip: a mix for the adults (Wilco, Steve Earle, Spiritualized…and Eminence Front!), one for the kids (Taylor Swift, Elton John, Jay Z, Rihanna, etc.), a new, life-affirming Drive-By Truckers mix, the previously-DALS-endorsed You Are Not Alone by Mavis Staples, and, for when everyone was asleep, The Color of Spring by Talk Talk.
Brady Bunch, Complete Season 1. I can’t believe how genius these are. They were recommended by my friend Brooke and I knew that I’d love watching them again (my brother, sister and I were so obsessed with this show when we were kids we made charts and summaries of each season and episode) but I had no idea how much the girls would love them. They are laugh-out-loud wholesome. Cindy is, of course, their favorite.
Easter Eggs. We started this a while ago. Every time we make a stop — for a bathroom break or a killer boxed lunch at Sally Bell’s Kitchen in Richmond — then return to the car, we find that the Easter Bunny has left an egg filled with a small chocolates on their seats. They figured out a while ago who was arranging this, but the deal is that if they don’t believe in the Easter Bunny the Easter Bunny doesn’t come.
Pre-made Comic Pages. We always have tons of regular paper, but occasionally we draw up templates for comic strips to see what it inspires. For this trip, as you can see, it inspired exactly nothing. But we’ve had some pretty good keepsakes come from this tradition. (“Joey and the Evil Car Wash Villains” comes to mind immediately.)
Travel Bingo from Knock-Knock. This was fun and got us through at least a two-hour stretch in North Carolina. And you can re-use them.
Comic Books and Graphic Novels In the car, I find they can sometimes go down easier than a big Harry Potter tome. We brought Owly and the latest Garfield collection. But any of these would fit the bill, too.
Art Cases. How talented is my friend Shivika? She made these for the girls last year and we keep them in the car all the time. We use them for car quizzes and general doodling. I didn’t even have to tell the girls to take good care of them — they could just tell and a year later they are still in perfect condition.