Tuesday, July 12, 2016

T Minus 2 - Also, Travel Binders are Awesome

T Minus 2 days that is.

We leave on our road trip in just a couple of days. No, I'm not packed - so please drop that subject immediately. I have allofthethings in my head. It will happen.

By the way... HI! I meant to keep posting about the planning process, but the actual planning was really time consuming. So I had to let something go.

Earlier today though, I was helping Eleanor set up a blog for her friends to follow, and I thought, "hey! I have one of those!" So here I am.

One of the many time consuming tasks I set for myself was putting together travel binders for the kids. Before you start laughing and assuming that this was some Pinteresty craft project I lovingly planned as a special keepsake they could treasure forever... It's not. It's about as creative as one of your fifth grade book reports.

With the exception of the fancy cover. That feature does make me feel a little smug...and dorky.

My initial inspiration for the binder was to give my kids calendar pages, so they could see where we would be each day. Just in case the image above causes any confusion, these calendar pages are not filled with randomly sized white rectangles. I used my highly sophisticated graphics software (Paint) to hide the destinations. So, ha! I have foiled your plans to stalk us across the country. I should also make note that my mother in law sent those maps. But I did take the time to highlight our route on each one (a suggestion from Chris). Teamwork! Also - Chris totally laughs at my binders.

The other thing I thought the kids would appreciate is a checklist of what we plan to do at our various stops. Since we're we're only spending a day or two at each (at least the ones that don't involve family), these lists are not super long. Spoiler alert: this is what we'll be seeing in Arizona.

While I was at it, I took the advice of every "road travel with kids" article I read and supplied them with games they can play in the car. They have several sheets for Hangman and Battleship, and then a ton of Word Find puzzles (they love those). No I Spy or License Plate games though because I would be expected to participate in those, and I'm not fun.

Other car activities will be movie watching (them, not me, as I'm pretty sure it's a law that I keep my eyes on the road), audio book listening and HOPEFULLY, sleeping (again - them, not me).

Back to the binders though. The actual inspiration for this was my 11 year old son, Oliver who is on the Autism Spectrum. A few years ago, he started experiencing serious anxiety about travel. He never wants to go on vacation and I don't bother even telling him about trips until about a week before. At this point you are looking at me and thinking, "WTF? Why would you drag a child with travel anxiety on a five week cross country road trip?" I hear you. And I absolutely wouldn't if he wasn't totally fine once we got on the road (plane). 

If you ask him if he's enjoying his trip, he'll say, "no - I don't like trips!" Then he'll happily splash around in the ocean or charge up the hiking trail. He secretly likes adventures. In this, he is just like me. I never want to go anywhere but then once I get settled, I'm thrilled to be there. So Oliver's issues may be genetic as opposed to special needs related. I suspect it's a bit of both. 

Last summer when we were in California visiting family, I told him we would be there for ten days. The next morning he announced, "nine more days!" Then he went on to have a fabulous time at the beach. He just needed a timeline to create some order in something he found scary. And THAT is how I came up with the idea for calendar pages ideas and ultimately for travel binders.

My binders are pretty AND practical. So there Chris! Also - even though this was all my idea, I'm feeling a little pre-travel anxiety too. Good thing I made a binder for myself...

Next you hear from me we'll be ON THE ROAD. Wish me luck! 

UPDATE: It just occurred to me that someone out there may actually be interested in an actual list of what I put in our travel binders. Here you go!

Kid Travel Binder
  • Calendar pages detailing where we will be each day
  • Checklists for activities and sight seeing at each stop
  • Games/puzzle sheets for the car or hotel down time
  • Pencil case (the kind that snaps into a binder)
  • Zippered envelope for souvenirs like ticket stubs, post cards, etc.
  • Large map of North America with our route highlighted (in a binder pocket)

My Travel Binder
  • List of hotels with address, phone number, website, confirmation number, check in/out dates, hotel check in/out times, room information (number of beds/sleeper sofas, suites, etc.), comps information (free breakfast, free parking, refrigerator, etc.)
  • List of family we'll see with addresses and phone numbers
  • List of expected meal planning for each stop (when we'll eat out, when we can use a hotel room kitchen, etc.)
  • Printed driving directions between each stop (in case I can't get a signal in more remote areas and GPS doesn't work)
  • Printed confirmation e-mails for hotels, reserved sight seeing activities and flight information (for Chris)
  • AAA membership information