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Guide to Driving Carpool and Keeping Sane

driving carpoolDriving carpool have you anxious? Whether this fall is the first time you’ll experience this parental right of passage or you’ve been driving carpool for years, there are a few tricks to help you ease into the routine of shuttling kids back and forth.

We’ve broken the tips down into four main key areas that will have you driving carpool like a pro in no-time, or at least appearing like you are.

Tip #1: Be Prepared! You’ve heard the phrase, “expect the unexpected” and it’s true for carpool. Anytime you have kids in a confined space, you’ll need to be ready. Here’s a list of items you should consider having in your vehicle:

  • Kleenix
  • Wet Wipes
  • Band-Aids
  • Garbage bag or container
  • Towel or rag for spills
  • Safety pins
  • Pens and pencils
  • Notepaper
  • AAA Card, Phone, Phone Book, & Emergency numbers

This article, “Car pool ideas for busy parents” has more ideas.

Tip #2: Plan Your Routes. Check ahead for any construction, detours, and other delays that may have popped up over the summer. Create a cheat sheet of school/after school addresses and start/end times in the car. If you frequently or periodically drive carpool for other kids, add their information to the list, and keep it in the vehicle, not your wallet or purse. That way if the need arises and a less familiar spouse takes over for a day, he/she has the information right there. Get a few more ideas here.

Tip #3: A Plan for a Clean Vehicle. Sorry to say it, but all the best efforts to keep your vehicle clean will not stop dirt, snow, dust, crumbs, etc from building up. If you allow beverages and/or snacks in your vehicle, keeping it clean is a never-ending task. Here are some DIY Tips for cleaning your own vehicle.

Tip #4: Travel Snacks. Now that you have a plan for keeping your vehicle clean, let’s work on getting it dirty again. Plan some travel snacks that work well for sleepy kids needing breakfast in the morning on the way to school, and hungry kids needing snacks after school or activities. We put together a bunch of travel snack ideas and resources.

“Basic School Carpool Rules” is a good article for establishing some ground rules too.

What would you add to this list? Make sure you are safe on the road. Have your vehicle serviced and tires checked. The TireZoo is here to help make sure your tires are safe. Let us know how we can help!

Tips When Driving Carpool

driving carpoolWhether you are driving carpool to and from work or school, it can be a cost effective and time reducing option for many. Here are a few tips to help you with your driving carpool experience.

Cheat Sheet: Keep a cheat sheet of addresses and start/end times in the car. It’s easy to assume you’ll remember this simple data, but it can be handy on a hectic day. Things to include: Who attends which school, time each school starts, time each school ends, time to arrive at each work place or transit station, addresses and/or alternative routes.

Carpool Lane and Stalls: When traveling in the Twin Cities metro area or other roads that offer carpool lanes, it’s a great idea to take advantage of this. To refresh your knowledge of how the Minnesota carpool lanes work in the metro and some frequently asked questions, click here. In some cases, parking lots and drop off zones will have specially marked carpool parking that is very useful!

Reminders: Make sure you remind young kids to use the bathroom prior to long commutes. Identify a bathroom along the route for emergencies. Remind everyone where they will find you or where to meet up.

Trash Container: Let’s face it. Traveling with anyone, young or old, usually means extra trash in the vehicle. Empty coffee cups, Kleenex, wrappers, and more need a place to go. Use a designated bag or container to collect carpool trash.

Seat Belts and Car Seats: Make sure all your seat belts are dug out of the seats, and you’ve reviewed any child car seat/booster seat laws. Require seat belt use for your passengers utilizing both the Minnesota Law AND your personal traveling rules for passengers. Here are current child safety seat belt and restraint laws.

Visit our board on Pinterest for great travel snack ideas for kids, if your kids need to maximize their time to fit in a snack on the way to practice or while driving a longer carpool. We have pinned some ideas that are easy to transport and eat in a vehicle.