Finding my Happy Place…Stuck in a Car for 24 Hours
I was asked to participate in the #MyHappyPlace campaign, sponsored by Walgreens. Although I have been compensated, all opinions are my own.
Okay, your happy place. Where is it? Ready, go.
Is it the beach? Your bathtub on Saturday night with a pint of cookie dough ice cream and the latest US Magazine? That campground in the mountains where your family makes memories every summer? Your bed on Sunday morning while the kids are still sleeping and your first cup of coffee’s in hand? All good choices, by the way.
I have a handful of happy places that factor into my sanity compass all year round, but one of my most favorites is where we spend the month of July–at my dad’s cabin, “Camp Bliss”, tucked in the woods of a quiet Northern Michigan town where folks settle into slow, easy lake life in the summer and the air smells like “up north”–a combination of evergreens and Oak trees, campfires and breakfast bacon.
Here’s the tricky part though–in order to get to that happy place, we have to spend 24 hours trapped in a less dreamy scenario–a minivan with three bored kids, piles of suitcases and a stretch of flat highway that offers us nothing but views of giant billboards advertising adult superstores and truck stops for the first eight hours of the trip. Insert nervous laughter.
How in heaven’s name do I not go crazy? Strangely enough, I’ve actually come to enjoy this part of our trip. Not like sitting-on-the-beach-and-watching-the-sunset kind of enjoyment, but more of a ha-ha-isn’t-this-fun-we’re-making-memories kind of enjoyment. Also known as: This is fun, but Jesus take the wheel.
A few things we keep in mind in making a great adventure of getting to our happy place?
1. PACK THE SNACKS.
24 hours in the car means we get hungry, we get bored, we need a lil’ sumthin’-sumthin’ to put a pep in our step. Golden rule of long road trips? MOMS GET CHOCOLATE. I mean, isn’t that part of all of our happy places?
Heidi introduced me to barkTHINS Brand Snacking Chocolate several months ago, and I’m hooked. I had a long hard month of sugar detox, but I’m definitely treating myself this summer to some guilt-free fun snacks, and barkTHINS are my sweet treat of choice for the car–snackable slivers of dark chocolate paired with real, simple ingredients. I love the dark chocolate with almonds and sea salt best, but we’ve also tried the pretzel ones (kids’ favorite), and they’re delicious. Salty/sweet combos are my favorite, and barkTHINS dark chocolate (no milk chocolate) are the perfect combination of salty and sweet with good textures added (they also have coconut with almond and mint varieties). It’s snacking. Elevated. So before we head to “camp,” we swing by Walgreens and pick up our barkTHINS.
Once the snacking in the car is taken care of, other ways we find our happy place in a minivan on the road?
2. SET TRAVEL STANDARDS LOW AND MAKE ROOM FOR CHANGES.
I don’t expect that the car is going to stay organized and crumb free, I don’t expect that the kids are going to be perfectly behaved, and I don’t expect that everything I’ve mapped out is going to go exactly as planned. We shoot for it but understand that part of the fun of these kinds of adventures is that it gets a little messy. We don’t even book all of our hotels on the way up because we don’t know what to expect–we might want to stop after six hours in the car and call it a night or we may be motivated to just keep on drivin’.
3. MAKE LITTLE ADVENTURES ON THE WAY.
See a sign for the biggest ball of yarn? A great park? The world’s best coffee? Veer off the course a little and make an adventure on the way. There are so many other little happy places on the journey besides that big one you’re shooting for at the end of the trip. We turn our road trip into a vacation in itself and try and stop and smell the roses along the way.
4. PACK ENTERTAINMENT.
Are we technology free on our road trips? Heck, no! If mama needs chocolate, kids need some good entertainment. The kids watch movies and play on iPads for a lot of our trip, but we also pack new books, car games and fun entertainment like Wicky Sticks, coloring books and crayons, car bingo and conversation starter questions. And for the adults? Podcasts and audio books! I’m actually so looking forward to having some good solid time to catch up on podcasts.
5. BE SILLY, HAVE FUN.
One of my favorite things about our road trips is how much fun we have. We turn up the radio for sing-a-longs (Hamilton and Moana soundtracks), madly honk when we cross state lines, take pictures of funny things we see, wave to other people on the road and have contests for who gets the most honks from other cars.
We’re currently on the road, creeping closer to our destination right now, but definitely finding many happy places to enjoy along the way.
If you’re packing up and getting ready for summer travels as well, from June 3 to July 29, you can get two 4.7oz pouches of barkTHINS for $8.
Happy snacking, happy travels!
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