I’m crazy. I love road trips. As a kid we would go on a road trip every summer. My mom was a beast on the road. She could get us to our destination in no time. Fast forward to my adult years. I want to be a master road tripper my mother was when we were little. I googled for tons of tips and tricks. Honestly some worked while other failed miserably. Every summer I take my kids on some sort of road trip adventure. Here are a few tips I learned about how to keep your kids happy along the way.
Timing Counts – Drive Through Nap Time, Bedtime, or Both!!
Lets be honest. The best time to drive is when our children are quiet, not bugging us/each other, or are asleep. It is all about timing. A few friends love to drive during the night while their kids sleep in the back. We tried that once and it completely back fired. My kids weren’t having it. It was awful. So, instead of trekking it during the evening, we leave first thing and drive through the day. I schedule our gas stops so when the children are napping it is full steam ahead, no stops that could accidentally wake them up.
Picture this. You have just stopped for gas. About 10 minutes later, you hear the sound of a child declaring they can’t hold it anymore and MUST stop asap. Potty breaks can make or break a road trip. Especially when you have multiple children. Depending on how far the destination is everyone is assigned “x” amount of potty stops. Filling up for gas and using someone else’s break is a free pass. If you are the one who initiates the stop than your potty break is taken. Tough luck if you run out of breaks or convince someone else to use theirs.
When my children were preschoolers, we traveled with a portable potty. Sometimes it is easier to stop on the side of the road, pull out the potty, and head back out rather than stopping at a gas station. The portable potty works wonders when you are out in the middle of nowhere. You can put a plastic bag in the potty for solid wastes if needed. I know its gross, but this saved me when driving through Texas to California. You are in the middle of nowhere for majority of the drive.
Manage the Munchies
Prepare a snack bag. Everyone is much happier when they have food in their stomach. I like to let me kids pick out a few of their favorite treats. A word of caution: don’t let them pick anything that is too sugary. You and I both know once the sugar hits they are going to be bouncing off the walls, dying to get out of their seats. We like to mix up loved snack with new snacks. The new snacks only came out when the kids were getting restless. My kids are older now and this trick still works wonders.
You can also make the snacks in personal sizes. It is easier to hand a child a small size of a snack instead of hoping and praying the don’t spill the entire thing on the floor or in their seat. The same goes for drinks. I could get capri suns, small size water bottle, or juice boxes for the kids. It was better than a whole can of soda or water spilling.
Keep them Entertained
I know you’ve head of this one, but it is just as important. Bring toys, books, tablets, games, coloring books, etc to keep them occupied. Don’t forget to charge those tablets or portable games the night before. I honestly made a bin for both kids. They both had activities that they loved. We didn’t keep the movies going the entire trips, but movies/shows played an important role in keeping them occupied. I would even rent or purchase a new movie for them to watch later on in the day.
Now that my kids are older, I let them decide what to bring to keep them occupied. My kids have come up with games to pass the time. Here are a couple of games for you. First up is the guess what animal I am thinking of game. One person thinks of an animal. Everyone else has to ask questions about this animal to figure out what it is. The second game is a bit more time consuming. My kids like to watch the semi trucks that pass on the other side of the highway. The game is one person picks a color truck. The first person to see that color semi truck gets to pick the next color. We honestly play this one a fair amount.
Get out and Stretch
The kids are restless. You are tired of hearing the whining. Just do it. Especially if you’re feeling sleepy. Get out and stretch. Depending on our destination, sometimes we will either stop at a fast food joint for a quick lunch or bring a picnic and eat at the rest stop. My favorite is the rest stop. You don’t lose as much time, and the kids can run around, yell, and really let some energy out. If you’re lucky you might even stop at a rest stop that has a playground. Those are THE best.
Whether it is a 3-hour trip or a 10-hour trip, you don’t have to dread the car ride. With these tips for traveling with kids, it will be more bearable and fun. Creating fun family memories is what counts. I know you’ve been stressed about road tripping. To make things a bit easier, I added a checklist to help you remember things you might not think about. You can click here to download a pdf version.
Where are you headed this year?
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