As a parent of young children, you may regularly wonder where they get all of that endless energy. Your children, including your child with a mobility issue, start each day with smiles on their faces, ready to tackle whatever life hands them with enthusiasm.
Now, as you are planning your upcoming road trip to visit your parents who happen to live hundreds of miles away, you are wondering how you are all going to survive those seemingly-endless hours in the car with those cute-but-energetic-powerhouses. Fortunately, with a combination of pre-planning and a good dose of patience, you and your kids can have a great time during your road trip and arrive at Grandma and Grandpa’s house ready to go. Check out the following ideas:
Invest in a Minivan
If you have room in the budget for a car payment, and/or if your current vehicle is on its last wheels, you may want to consider springing for a new car prior to your upcoming trip. A great option for families like yours is a minivan like the Chrysler Pacifica. In addition to being a terrific option for families with young kids, a minivan is an ideal vehicle for transporting kids with mobility issues. The Pacifica features a spacious cabin that will give you plenty of room to help your child with mobility issues get safely into their seat.
The van features Stow N’ Go seats, which lets you fold down and store seats you are not using flush with the floor; this will give you added room to move around. If your son uses a wheelchair all or part of the time, or leg braces or a walker of some type, the minivan features plenty of storage space for his equipment as well as your suitcases. Modifying the van with a wheelchair ramp or lift will make it even easier to get in and out of the vehicle. The Pacifica also has 32.3 cubic feet behind the third row of seats, which increases to a whopping 87.5 cubic feet when the second row is folded down.
Plan Ahead as Much as You Can
The first rule of traveling with anyone with a mobility issue is to plan ahead. If you will divide your road trip into two or more days, call the hotel/s ahead of time and let them know you are traveling with a child who has a disability; you may wish to request ground floor rooms and verify that the rooms are able to safely accommodate wheelchairs. You may also want to stock up on certain supplies your child’s equipment requires; for example, if they use an electric wheelchair, purchase a spare battery or two and bring along tools to make emergency repairs. This way, if something breaks off during a stop on the road, you can quickly repair the equipment and get right back on track.
Bring on the Snacks and Games
Keeping active kids happily occupied in the car takes a solid combo of tasty snacks and plenty of activities. Just be careful not to load them up on sweet treats as this may cause your happily-sugared up kids to start bouncing off the walls. Focus on healthy and non-messy choices like Goldfish crackers, string cheese, bananas, granola bars and juice boxes. You can also give yourself permission to be lenient with your screen time rules — let your kids download some new games and movies on their tablets, and treat them to their own headphones. A 90-minute movie that keeps them all focused and quiet will go a long way in maintaining everyone’s sanity. Also, treat each of your kids to a new activity toy of some type; this can be a magnetic doodling board, a pop-up book or a pad of paper with puffy stickers.
By following these tips and probably coming up with a few more on your own, your road trip will go so smoothly and you will be inspired to have more of them in the future. Before you know it, your kids may also be able to help you with the driving — now there’s an interesting idea!