There are few things more stressful than planning a road trip with children. For some reason, my family and I have done a few of them, the first when my little girl was just 15 months old and I was 8 months pregnant with her brother. It went shockingly well.
Of course, now that they are 6 and 4, road tripping is a whole other ball game. Bottles and naps aren't going to cut it anymore. Last year, my husband and I took our babies on a 10-hour trip. We also do a 3-hour road trip every weekend to our family lake house and now that will be a 6-hour drive from our new house. They are all full of lessons learned, and believe me, we will know better the next time. In fact, following our trip, we came up with the 10 most important rules of any big road trip with your big kids.
- Download books on your iPad/iPhone: We don't have those TVs in our car, but we were able to get some scary stories on our iPhones, which we then played through the speakers. Totally kept my kids happy.
- Play car bingo: If it's not car bingo, then make it the alphabet game or the 50 states license plate game. Whatever it is, play car games! Buy them! Bring them! Make them up! Whatever works.
- Factor in pee breaks: A 10-hour trip is a 12-hour trip with kids. Factor in those pee breaks and it's less annoying.
- Pack snacks: Even for short drives, this is key. It stops fits and also stops hunger. Big win all around!
- Pack special treats: When the snacks get old, a piece of fruit leather or even a handful of M&M's can make all the difference in the world. Trust me on this.
- Bring pillows: They will want to sleep. So make sure all special blankets and pillows are within reach.
- Keep your sense of humor: If you let them get you down, they win! Just smile and know it will be over soon.
- Drive at night or early in the morning: We have done both. Pulling sleeping children from their beds in their PJs is great. Then you get them in their best moods as they awaken. We have also fed them dinner, bathed them, changed them into PJs, and then driven. The latter is better but both work.
- Stop to play: If you can find parks along the way, make sure you factor in some outdoor, "shake the silly out" time. It's crucial to a good bed time and happy children once you arrive.
- Sing: If all else fails, do a bunch of singing. I swear, it's fun!
What is your advice on road tripping with kids?