Pro Tips for Road Trips - Kids Edition
Who doesn't rely of those images of a, Face In The Wind-Summertime Drive, every now and then to help get through a bad day. I love them and plan a couple each year.
As the years have ticked by the number of passengers has increased until there are four of us tightly packed into a small car all trying to hold onto our own 48 sq inches of sanity that our seat and window allow us. It's an American rite of passage and as I once fondly recall it mentioned, our modern day confessional.
When you travel with children, it shifts the carefree spirit a bit...however with a little planning -- who am I kidding, with a lot of forethought and a trunk full of popcorn, you can make multi-day traveling a total success!
Here are some Pro Tips I've come to rely on the past many years.
- Plan the the driving times around the person who will be doing the driving. This may seem obvious, but it was not for me. It took me years to understand that being a morning person meant I drive best in the dawn hours; and a bonus is kids spend most of the drive time asleep. My husband is most alert in the afternoon/ evening, so if he joins the trip, he will take those hours.
- Set a reasonable amount of drive time per day. Every family is different but keep in mind what is reasonable. My family does well between 5-7 hours a day (I knock out most of my hours in the morning so that we can use the rest of the day to explore the area).
- Plan breaks if kids will be awake. If they are in the back eating and playing road trip games, expect bathroom breaks every couple hours. You know it's going to happen, so find a place ahead of time that has a fun destination attached to it.
- Think of family triggers and find solutions in advance. I have a hard time moderating beverages for myself (see next tip). My kids cry whenever we pass a certain fast food joint - (bring a roll of quarters for vending machines at the next rest stop - it has a certain mysterious appeal). Thinking of these things in advance gives me a leg up on sidestepping a possible meltdown.
- Be conscious of what you'll need. Lots of caffeine required? Maybe don't drink watery drinks - such as tea, Perhaps sipping on something with stronger caffeine will prevent an earlier than expected stop; which with children may mean you can't get back in the car for an hour...
- Bring out secret gifts after a good pit stop. They'll be excited to get back in the car and occupied for an additional 30 minutes. A favorite bag filled with dollar store stuff is great for this. Or search free printable worksheets off the internet. Bonus points if it's wrapped!
- Finally the most important; bring snacks. I don't mean stop at a gas station and grab a bag of chips; I mean pack a large portion of the food your going to eat and bring it with you. I have a food box in the back seat as well as a huge bin in the trunk. At some point I will completely loss track of how many veg/fruit the kids are getting in or they're boycotting my selections. The solution is to have healthy snacks already in the car!! To pack the car so that we can snack 24/7 was a game changer for our family.
- Also, think of alternatives of where you might get close to your standard diet. We find a grocery store deli is a crowd pleaser.
- Know that some leniencies will need to be made; and think of which rules you can forgo for the time being. I know bed times are hard so we have to take it day by day. Have a plan in place, past 9pm all lights are off until kids fall asleep.
These are the tricks that have made travel fun for us. I hope there is something new or at the very least reassuring in this list.
And let me know in the comments what elements make for a fun road trip for your crew!!
Until Next Time,