We just got back from driving from Oklahoma to Oregon and back to Oklahoma. I thought instead of doing a food post, I would post a few of the things that work for us in driving cross country. The way we do this may not work for your family, but I hope you can find a tip or two that might be helpful.
We have lived in Oklahoma for fifteen years. My family all lives in the Portland, Oregon area. My husband’s family lived in southern California for several years. So, we have made many road trips to see everyone.
We try to visit my family at least every other year. We have flown to visit family many times, but I hate to fly. Really, I do not like it. Plus, it can get very expensive with five of us, especially when we have to rent a car when we get there. So, we often drive to Oregon.
When we drive to Oregon we are on a mission to get there. We do not stop and site see. We do not take long breaks. Yes, many times we have passed interesting and educational things that we would have liked to see, but our goal is to get where we are going. On the trip to Oregon this year our stops for gas and bathroom breaks were seven minutes. Yes, we filled up with gas and all used the restroom in seven minutes. Stops for meal lasted a little longer, but not much since we ate in the car.
The drive for us is 2,050 miles, which for us takes 28-30 hours driving time depending on how many stops we make. We usually drive straight through on the way to Oregon. Yes, straight through. My husband and I take turns driving and sleeping and the kids sleep in the car. On the way home we find that we are tired, worn out, and less patient. So, we usually end up spending one night in a hotel.
Over time I have found a few things that make the trip a lot easier. Snacks and lots of them are one of them. We take plenty to give everyone a variety. It is also nice to have snacks when we are out in the middle of Wyoming at lunch time and there is no place to stop in sight. Things like potato chips and cookies easily get smashed and then make a mess in the car. I like to avoid messes in the car if possible. So, we take things like jerky, corn nuts, trail mix, pop tarts, and candy. Not the healthiest or the cheapest snacks, but it works better than gas station or truck stop food when hungry.
I also try to pack food for our first meal or two. This keeps us from eating as much fast food. I usually pack things that do not need to be kept cool. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or bagels work well. When this food is gone we get fast food and eat it in the car.
We also take lots of water. In fact we do not drink anything but water. Sugary drinks like pop and juice and even things like coffee make for more bathroom breaks, so we don’t drink them. We take a small cooler and set in on the seat or floor next to one of the kids. This way we can easily get to it when someone wants a drink. I buy bottled water and freeze about ½ of them. This way we have cold water the entire trip. Usually by the end of the drive the frozen ones are thawed, but still cold.
As far as packing goes, I have tried many things. What works for us is to combine everyone’s stuff. I gave up on individual bags for each person a long time ago. We find a couple of large bags work much better than a bunch of small ones. I also place all the shoes in one bag. This keeps them all in one place. The same goes for bathroom stuff. Everyone’s stuff is packed together. I have found the small plastic containers work great for this. Little things like makeup, etc, get put into Ziploc bags and then placed into the container. I like using containers because it keeps everything upright and we have fewer spills and messes. The picture above is our bags and bathroom stuff from this trip.
Those are a few of my favorite tips for traveling cross country. I don’t want to make it sound like these trips are all fun and easy. We have had plenty of problems over the years. We have had car trouble. We have had car sickness, in fact lots of it. One year we did laundry at a truck stop because two of our kids had it so bad. This year we were recovering from the flu and then our air conditioner on our car went out. But overall these trips are worth it and I am sure we will make lots more of them.
What are your tips for traveling long distances in the car? I would love to learn what works for you.