Ah, summertime. You take to the open road with your family and embark on an adventure that you’ll one day look back on fondly. But let’s get real, first you have to survive the stress and make it in one piece, despite the influx of questions like “Are we there yet?” and the repetitive comments from the backseat of “I’m hungry, thirsty, tired, bored, etc.” Yes, this is the stuff memories are made of.
But good news — we military spouses are tough! If we can handle deployments and TDYs, we can handle a family road trip. All it takes is preparation, flexibility and a sense of humor. Here are some methods to come out on top during your next adventure.
- Activities and entertainment. As a child, my parents packed new books, activities, games, and sketch pads, just to name a few. In addition to these classic options, don’t be afraid of technology to get you through the long haul. Just like when on a long flight, our family has discovered that movies can keep everyone happy. Don’t forget to protect your sanity by packing headphones for the kids. Unless, that is, you love hearing the same movie on repeat for days.
- Food, glorious food. Never underestimate plentiful food options for you and the kids. Repeat after me: “You can never pack too much food.” Here is our typical checklist:
- Water. Bring refillable bottles that won’t easily spill. This keeps everyone hydrated while skipping extra sugar, caffeine or drinks that may stain. That’s right folks, keep the caffeine for the grownups, it’s going to be a long ride!
- Lunches. We love to save money by packing sandwich fixings. Bring a loaf of bread, peanut butter, jelly and don’t forget knives for spreading and cutting into halves.
- Snacks. Bring along fruit, sliced veggies, nuts, crackers, pretzels, jerky and granola bars. Allow your children to pick out a special treat at the next gas station (yes, this trick can be used as bribery), but limit sugar overall. As we know, pent-up energy and kids in the back seat don’t make for a quiet, peaceful journey.
- Remember cleanup. Don’t forget to bring a roll of paper towels, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, and a bag for your trash. If you have little ones who experience motion sickness, bring a few more bags.
- Scheduled breaks. Although it’s a thrill to push through long stretches of highway, do your family a favor and proactively take breaks before you’re in crisis mode. A good rule of thumb is every two hours. Try and multitask your breaks by coinciding with the end of a movie and when you stop, fill up with gas, hit the restrooms, have a snack and stretch your legs.
- Know that “it’s” coming. What’s coming, you ask? It — the big, bad stressful moment. Perhaps it’s a traffic jam, a meltdown fit, or a fight from the backseat. I once spent some of the longest 15 minutes of my life while on an international flight with two toddlers. I was hot, flushed, embarrassed and sweaty trying to get them to calm down and be quiet. You know what? We survived. We got through it. And that means that for the other 8 hours and 45 minutes, they were happy and well behaved. It will come, but it will also go.
- Treat yourself to a good night’s sleep. Being an adult can be exhausting. After long days of driving, sightseeing, exercising patience and putting out small fires, what sounds more perfect than a spacious room complete with big comfy beds? You deserve it. How about free WiFi, children’s entertainment options, a pool, a fitness center, hot showers, 24/7 coffee and tea, and a breakfast just waiting for you in the morning? Now we’re talking. What’s even better? Getting a military discount on all of this. My son and I recently discovered TownePlace Suites by Marriott and we can’t wait to stay with them again. We enjoyed the feeling of a home away from home, complete with incredible amenities and value. Did you bring your pet along for the trip? No problem, TownePlace Suites is a pet-friendly hotel. And if your crew went through all the snacks while in the car, no fear, the In a Pinch ® Market has you covered. What’s the icing on the cake? If you happen to stay with TownePlace Suites by Marriott during the week, you can unwind with their complimentary evening reception, complete with beer, wine and hors d’oeuvres. You’re welcome.
Learn More about TownePlace Suites by Marriott
With more than 230 locations in North America, many located near military bases, and all offering special military pricing, TownePlace Suites is an excellent option for military families. Whether you’re road tripping, PCSing, on TDY, hosting family or just having a staycation, their spacious suites, free Wi-Fi, and fully equipped kitchens just scratch the surface. Add to that value a fitness center, laundry facility, pet-friendly lodging and a hot breakfast, and it’s easy to see why TownePlace Suites by Marriott is a great option for your military family.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored conversation on behalf of TownePlace Suites by Marriott. All thoughts and opinions are our own.
A self-described “Jackie of All Trades,” Army wife Jackie Toops is a mother of two and enjoys writing, travel, art, languages, slow cooking and peaceful parenting. She studied Interdisciplinary Humanities, Museum Studies and Nonprofit Management, and has overseen public relations for museums, galleries and universities. She is a contributing author for Wall Street International Magazine and has discussed her articles on-air with AFN Wiesbaden. She’s usually seen adventuring with her Canon, a coffee and two small children. Follow her on Twitter.
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