A Trip Out East
My mom belonged to an international crafting association and they were having their annual meeting in Canada. Thing is, it was on the east coast and she wasn’t sure at first how she wanted to get there, she just knew she wanted to attend. After a while, she decided she wanted us all to drive there. It would be a vacation, she said, and she would pay for the motels and meals if I would drive.
Ok, I’m still torn about the concept years later, but it was too difficult to turn down. Here I was homeschooling Butterfly, and there is nothing as educational as travel... sometimes. But travelling with a hyperactive kid with food intolerances was not going to be easy. It was also important that she not be allowed to get too hungry so that her blood sugar dropped. Off I went to the health food store to buy snack food for the journey. Some of the foods at this place are bulk packaged and ingredients aren’t always on them. So I asked, double checking every food item for ingredients that Butterfly oughtn’t have. The woman running the place was rather nonchalant about it all, actually rather cocky, trying to come off as the big expert on the ingredients in some of the snack foods, but it turned out she was just wrong about a couple of them.
~ TIP #1: Make sure you buy travel snacks for a kid with intolerances from some place that puts ingredients labels on the food they sell. If the help is full of themselves, go some place else. Also games for back seat entertainment. The magnetic ones are best because the pieces aren’t so apt to go missing. Of course, movies are great if you have a late model vehicle that’s equipped, or a separate, battery-operated DVD/CD player works too. Healthy snacks and entertainment, a must. ~
Unaware of all the challenges ahead, we got Mom’s little car packed up with her crafts and our luggage, squeezed ourselves into the space remaining, and off we went, eastern bound. It wasn’t too bad at first. As long as we were in familiar territory, we had a better idea what Butterfly could have to eat. We didn’t do fast food, but shopped for foods at the grocery stores we encountered.
~ TIP #2: Those grocery store rotissiery chickens are not a bad bet because added ingredients are usually on the skin and you can remove that. Starting the trip with baked goods from home is also a good idea, like muffins or sliced and buttered quick bread. Sure, they only last so long, but they’ll give you a good start. ~
Butterfly helped her Nanna decide if each motel along the way was acceptable by checking the rooms with her. Mom demonstrated how to check the bed sheets to make sure they were clean, and to look in the bathrooms, etc., before checking into any motel. It was really rather cute watching the pair of them do their inspection. Butterfly became quite expert.
Being pretty much confined to a motel room with a hyperactive kid however... not fun.
~ TIP #3: Booking motels before you leave on your trip can be very stressful if something on your trip holds you up and you’re late arriving, or don’t actually get that far. But you can still check on motel facilities with certain chains and their locations before you leave, or even along the way if you take your laptop. Look for motels with swimming and playground facilities for your hyperactive child. It helps keep them busy and wears off some of that excess energy before you all have to settle down for the night. Also look for free internet, so you can check ahead for the next day. ~
So, if the motel had a playground ~ even just a set of swings ~ that was helpful, but some didn’t, so after a day of driving came the walks necessary to burn off some of that energy.
After we passed into unfamiliar territory, things got more challenging. For one thing, we went through a province where the tourist information clerks assumed we just wanted to hit the super highway, motor through, and see nothing. They didn’t ask what kind of route we preferred, they just directed us to the three lane pavement. When we realized there was nothing for miles and miles along this route, we got off and found our own way through towns along the way. These offered picnic areas, small stores for water, grocery stores for food, sights for tired eyes and eventually, accomodation.
~ TIP #4: If you stop for directions or tourist information, be clear about what you're looking for. I'm not sure why any tourist people would want to just get rid of tourists, but that was the approach we encountered. Be clear about your needs. ~
~ TIP #5: Take a cooler so you can buy suitable foods along the way as you find them and keep them till needed. When your cooler paks thaw, cans of unsweetened frozen juice make great, temporary cooler paks and can be made up when you get to the motel, instead of sugary soda pop from the vending machine. Some motels have fridges with little freezer compartments to re-freeze those real cooler paks. If not, and that juice is thawed and gone, remember to take along a supply of sturdy plastic bags to fill with ice for your cooler. Twister ties too. ~