Travelling with kids is one thing, Road Tripping with them is completely another. I have done posts about travelling with kids but that was mainly geared towards air travel Travelling with Kids. This post is about ‘Road Tripping with Kids’ I know your first thought is why? why would you ever do this to yourself? thats a very legit question. Sometimes you need to in order to get somewhere, and sometimes you choose for fun. (because your a sick individual like me)
When our oldest daughter literally just turned 2 and we had a 1 month old baby, we embarked on a 2 1/2 month road trip. This photo was our route. Since we have done ton’s of road trips in the last 4 years with kids, I have learned some things along the way that I will share so you don’t have to endure the pain yourself.
Snacks are the real key to the success of a road trip. One time we were driving 4 hours to my husbands family and my daughter did something to get a consequence and he chose NO snacks the entire car ride. Like what?!?!?! That is punishment for every single person in the car! I was not happy and he stuck to his word the whole 4 hours. Let me tell you, it was a miserable car ride. Snacks are truly the only way you will survive, before most road trips I go to the store and stock up so I am not buying along the way, because that gets pricey when you are in utter desperation. It is better to be proactive.
BEWARE–do not give your kids those food pouches if they have never used them before, or if they are rear facing. I learned my lesson the hard way with this one.
I find with travelling in any form, technology/screen time rules can be thrown out the window. If my kids will watch movies for the entire car ride quietly, I am all for it. There really is nothing worse then driving, knowing you are far away from your destination and having someone screaming in your ear. My philosophy is ‘whatever keeps them quiet’
Now for toys, you need to be wise in the choices. Children like to throw said toys into places in your vehicle that no one can reach unless you stop the vehicle. They will then scream and cry and be so annoying until you finally pull over and get it for them, for them to no longer have any interest in the toy. I now get both my girls to fill a backpack up with toys and that is what they get for the drive. (my 4 year old did great, my 2 year old picked a dead battery, a nickel, a 1 arm barbie, and a book that she had ripped all the pages out prior to the trip….so she really failed at this activity.) I would recommend being apart of the picking so you know if they will be toys that work in the car or not. On our bigger road trip, we got a ‘carseat tray’ so she could have a flat surface to colour on. It wasnt the best thing in the world, but wasnt the worst either, so if your children like to colour there are some helpful idea’s out there.
I have yet to be on a road trip without puke. Literally. My kids don’t even feel the need to actually be sick for longer then a moment just so they can throw up all over my car and then go back to feeling fine. Bring extra clothes for the kids, for you AND garbage bags and LOTS of wet wipes (even if you don’t have kids in diapers anymore) Also I would avoid dressing your children in white…..remember you will be feeding them non-stop snacks for hours so its inevitable they will be a MESS when you get to your destination.
You have 2 choices. 1) you trust your child to tell you when they have to pee, making sure they pee every time they get in the car AND put a toilet training pad down on their carseat or 2) put a diaper on them.
I have done both and both have their challenges so this one is your families choice, but just remember to include it in your planning of the road trip.
Map It Out
Look ahead at your route, try and find places that you would like to aim to stop in. I usually look for places every 2-2:30 hours from the last stop. If you really want to get into it, try and find things to do in that place. I utilize google a lot and search ‘things to do in ________’ community and see if theres any fun kids museums, playgrounds or activities that we can do while we are out of the car. It makes it a little bit more fun on the driving part of the journey.
When you stop you have the usual bathroom break, maybe a meal, a chance to let them run off some energy. Time goes by SO quick when you do all that, you don’t even feel like it was a break! We tried to attempt 30 min breaks on our big road trip and that literally only gave us time for bathrooms and a bit of walk. It was amazing how quick that time went. I would say realistically to get things done and let some energy get out 45 mins – 1 hr is a better expectation. Don’t forget to buy coffee and energy drinks on this stop!
IF your alone
Now this takes some planning. I don’t do this a lot but I just did a 6 hour trip with my girls alone and we survived but I learned a couple things. You have to keep things within your reach because you are the only pair of hands to give them stuff. I had the snack bag directly beside me, the dvd’s to change movies, some toys on the seat beside me to continuously throw back EVERY time they dropped the last one I gave them. Worse case you find somewhere safe to pull over and pick them all back up, but you can only do this so much if you want to actually arrive at your destination this century.
Just be aware that all of you are likely to loose your mind at a certain point on the trip. Something about being stuck in a car just makes us all go a little nuts. Now if you have multiple children in the car, the siblings take this out on not only you, but each other.
We had the worst set up, our kids were 1 rear facing and 1 forward facing AND directly beside each other on a bench seat in our van. So they could kick each other in the face and slap each other. And yes it was a nightmare. Just realize that no-one is on their top game in the car, and you are included in this list. Your patience will plummet to a level of low you didn’t know you had, you will hate your GPS and Dora the explorer more than I can explain to you.
Road trips with kids are the furthest thing from the road trips you took as a teenager/young adult. Get those fantasies OUT of your head and get prepared. Thats the key to it all: prepare for the worst, expect…..the worst. I don’t wanna sugar coat this one for you, it probably won’t be enjoyable.
Always remember #thestruggleisreal