It’s a nice thought: Pick up and hit the road. Go wherever, whenever and never have a problem arise. But, this is the real world. You would be wise to push that fantasy aside if you are looking at traveling; especially traveling with kids.
An adult, even a couple of adults, in some ways, may not face some of the concerns or challenges that those of us face when traveling with children. Some potential issues are universal, children in tow or not. I thought a post (or may even make a small serious of them) looking at things I have run into or am concerned about might be useful. Remember these problems are from my perspective; the perspective of a crazy woman traveling wild, crazy journeys with children. The problems will not be in any certain order
Think I will start with problems with heat and staying cool:
Issue 1 – Heat:
My AC (air conditioner) kicked the bucket some time ago. I am blessed with a husband who can typically fix anything (thankful since we are too broke to ever pay to have things repaired). But, the AC has been one thing that my husband has not been able to get to work. Last I knew he suspected a small leak, but for some reason has not been able to locate it – despite his valiant efforts. Okay, I grew up in a time where we rode with the windows down and survived. But, I’m older now and being a redhead, extreme heat is unpleasant and can potentially make me ill.
I have run into a couple of situations where the heat got the best of me while traveling. This is not fun. Thankfully the things I have done to battle the situation have seemed to work well with the kids who travel with me. Being younger, I’m sure helps them. —-slipping off to a fantasy… one day I will be able to afford another vehicle with working AC or my husband will get this one working—-
Back to the reality of the situation. I can stay at home or find ways to battle the heat. I choose to try to battle the heat. How?
Cooler & Ice – Of course I travel with a big cooler, loaded with ice. I often have a smaller cooler up front close to me. I keep a couple of wash cloths in the cooler. As the ice melts, the wash cloths stay wet and cold. I use the wash cloths to wipe my face and arms periodically. Warning: If you are very hot, this feels wonderful for a moment, but as soon as the skin dries, you sometimes will feel even hotter for a bit. I have also found that keeping a cool, wet wash cloth on my neck, tucked under my hair, helps to keep me more comfortable. I have also been known to drive down the road with a wet cloth on my head… hee hee I’m sure some who have seen this think I’m crazy. I know the kids have had a few giggles seeing me do this. But, hey, it helps.
Spray Bottles – The kids really like this one. Awhile back I purchased a small spray bottle for each child. They each have a different colored bottle. Simple, fun and cheap. I paid a dollar for each at a local dollar store. The kids spray their selves [and each other when they think I don’t know ]. The only rules I have are if someone complains about another spraying them, it must stop; no purposely spraying me while I’m driving (though I often catch a small mist of their sprays and that’s ok); no soaking my van or anything in it (except their self); and be careful to keep the spray of water away from the area I have my camera. On really hot days, if there is room, they often store their spray bottles in the cooler to keep them nice and cool.
Fans – I did pick up some of the mini hand-held fans for the kids. They will tell you that the fans help. The truth is, no they really don’t help battle the heat. The kids find them entertaining, so they don’t want to say they don’t help cool them I have heard about portable fans that could be used inside a vehicle. I’m really curious how well these work. If they are not expensive, I would like to try using one. Guess that’s something for me to look into.
Hydrate, Hydrate = DRINK! – Water. Water is very important in helping to keep cool. I travel with plenty of bottled water. I do have various other things for the kids to drink. But they are limited on how many of those they can have a day. They can drink the water as much as they want. Well, sometimes it’s probably a little more than they want. We sometimes go places where the elevation is quite high. I have taught the kids about sicknesses that can occur from high altitude. I have also taught them about heat illnesses since we also travel in some places that are hot or even desert type areas. Keeping well hydrated can go a long way in helping to prevent a lot of these problems. They understand that they have a choice: drink plenty of water each day or we can go home. They choose to stay hydrated Honesty time. This is probably a big part of why the kids don’t seem as bothered by the broken AC as I do …. this is one area where I need to practice what I preach. Trust me, the kids have called me out on it a few times when I wasn’t feeling at my best. I’m seriously addicted to Pepsi. I also drink a lot of 7 Up. Water, well I’m terrible about drinking it. The kids understand that caffeinated drinks can actually cause more problems. They have also caught on enough to point out that 7 Up is NOT a substitute for drinking water. Smart children.
Wind Blowing Through Our Hair – No AC means keeping the windows down. This can be a problem with long hair; especially during those times I am driving at higher speeds on an interstate highway. My youngest daughter & often two of my granddaughters travel with me. I have hair that is a bit more than half way down my back. My daughter’s hair is much longer. The granddaughters have hair below their shoulders. That is a whole lot of flying hair with the wind whipping through open windows as we go down the road! This leads to a lot of messy, knotted hair when we stop. The solution I found is each girl is required to keep pony tail holders by their seat. They are each responsible for putting their hair in a pony tail before we pull away from any place. When we stop, pony tails can be taken down, if they want. They each have a comb or brush by their seat that they quickly run through their hair.
Timing – We do try to time, when possible, outdoor stops in very hot areas to the times of the day that might not be so hot. This can also mean leaving as the sun comes up if it helps us avoid certain areas during certain parts of the day. When traveling with no AC, it can also be helpful to try timing indoor (air-conditioned) stops for the hottest time of the day. No AC and timing my travels during warmer weather can also mean accepting that I can not visit places such as Death Valley
Heat Build Up In the Van During Stops – This can be a problem even if you have working AC in your vehicle. The problem with no AC is I cannot turn it on and know in a little while the van will cool off. When possible, I try to park in a shaded area if we will be stopping for long. Unfortunately, that is not always possible. Using a windshield cover can also be helpful. When we return to the van after a longer stop on a very hot day, we immediately open the doors and windows and pray for a nice cross breeze. While we air out the van for a little bit, the kids usually sip on a cold drink from the cooler. When leaving your vehicle closed up in the heat, remember some things do not hold up well to the extreme temperature build up inside – for example: crayons, chocolate, electronics such as cameras or MP3 players. I have been known to slip crayons & chocolate into the cooler when we stop. Camera always goes with me, so that’s not a problem.