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Works For Me Wednesday- Road Trippin' with Kids

 No wait, don’t go away. It is possible. I know what you are thinking. Crazy lady who purposefully takes her kids on long car trips. Well, you might have something there, but I swear I have been doing it for about 4 1/2 years now and it ain’t so bad.

Here is the deal, the hubby and I love road trips. We did before we had kids and aren’t ones to let a few kids change our life in any way (yeah right). So we pack them up and head for the open road. And, SHOCKER, until about a year ago we didn’t have any sort of DVD entertainment. It was just us shoving books and food at them. So here are a few tips to enjoy a road trip, planned or otherwise, with your toddlers.

  • Buy a few new, novel items for the trip: It doesn’t have to be expensive or even all that exciting, just new. For this trip, my wonderful mother did this part for me and game over with a few new books (and a tin full of her delicious homemade molasses cookies) for the trip. Present the new things when the stir crazies begin to set in.
  • Research your route: If you do this you may find a really cool stop along the way that happens to be positioned right around mile “meltdown.” Suddenly your kids are unbuckled from their prisons stretching their legs at a lookout over Lake Superior. This isn’t all that exciting, but they don’t care cause they are free.
  • Don’t be afraid to be goofy: Maybe you can’t sing a note. Your kids don’t care, they still want to hear you sing Wheels on the Bus 12 times in a row. Today I cranked up some classic rock on the radio and we had a rock band. Even little Hannah (almost 2) was playing air-tambourine. We were all giggling up a storm. The people next to us…yeah, they thought we were escapies from a mental hospital.
  • Time travels with naps/bedtimes: This is actually hit or miss. Lily was out right on schedule, but Hannah refused to fall asleep and ended up staying up 2 hours past her bed time. If you are going to employ this tactic, run them ragged during the day so they are tuckered out.
  • Go Old School: Our parents didn’t have DVD players. Nor did they use car seats (as I am frequently reminded) so all of the things we did in the car aren’t exactly doable (like falling asleep in the back window, but a lot of them are. License Plate Game, Alphabet Game, Car Bingo, Scavenger Hunts. Don’t think that your toddler can’t do some of these. This woman is brilliant. Head over and get some of her printables.
  • Don’t be afraid to use food to quiet your children: They can’t whine and complain when they are shoveling food in their face. We pack granola bars, dried fruit and string cheese (and those molasses cookies-yum) so it isn’t horribly unhealthy gas station food. Would not recommend this tip if your child has a tendency towards car sickness however. Then again, I am pretty sure I wouldn’t recommend road trips in general is this is the case.

We have had 2 three hour trips in the last 2 days on our way to Niagara and they have been virtually problem free. And only 1 hour of those has been spent with a DVD in so I know this is possible people. Any other car tips you have I would love to hear them cause we got 2 more 3 hour stretches before spring break is over. And by then, even the food one might not be working.

For more tips head over to Rocks in my Dryer.

Comments

  1. Girl, I did posts last summer about my trip (alone, no other adults, no spouse, nuttin) 3000 round trip from here to New York and back, with FOUR children.
    And it went really smoothly. People thought I was crazy, but it was really fine. Two travel days each way, 10 plus hour days each day drive time, but it was incredibly without event or drama. For real!

  2. domesticallyblissed says:

    Great suggestions – and great reminders! I’ll bookmark this post for future reference – our dream is to do up an old VW Combi bus into a camper and travel the country, so there will be lots of goofiness!

  3. frazzmom says:

    We do have the DVD system in the car, but I recently banned it’s use when on road trips. I want my kids to see the country they live in- not just pass through it with their eyes glued to a screen!

    We did a 8 hour drive in January to So California w/o screen time and all three kids did just fine. Yes- it is possible!

  4. Im always amazed when people tell me they dont take their kids in the car for more then 20 min drives. I started taking my three year old on 6 hr drives when he was 6 wks. we are stationed away from family so there wasnt much choice, i think starting early is the way to go, i swear it gets them used to it. I did a 12 hr car ride this fall, solo again, with two little ones this time and it wasnt that bad. your tips are great. though im not going to lie, i got a dvd player and it rocked. but i did plenty of other entertaining!

  5. These tips also work with adults :) I always need food.

  6. One of our newest tricks (although I don’t know if it’d work in a smaller car with 2 kiddos) is we got Clare a lap table (they are super cheap and you can get them decorated with names at Learning Express) so she can color, have a table to play with her toys like Polly’s and the like. They have a pocket on both sides of the table so she can put extra stuff down in there when she’s not playing with it on the table.

  7. What about for a 5 month old? We have to go to NY again in June and we’ll have to drive it…suggestions? It’s a 7 hour trip (and that’s without feeding breaks!) Do we just need to drive through the night?

  8. I second all these tips! We do lots of road trips with our kids and have ever since they were born. We live to vacation, so I wasn’t going to wait until they were “old enough” (whatever that means) to take them places.

    For us, just remembering that their needs take precedence over our travel schedule is key. If they are getting super antsy & need to stop, we stop. If they are sleeping & we are starving, we keep driving. It works for me too……..

  9. I took the girls on a 7 hour trip to Kentucky over Spring break in a church bus! There were a total of 11 kids and no DVD players! Our biggest key to survival was swapping seats at every rest stop. If I were in a car for that long, I would suggest the same thing. Move those car seats for a change of view and a new buddy to sit by.

  10. Thanks for the great tips! My brother and I would fight over the back window! Crazy!

  11. I have made several 12 hour road trips in the last few years with 5 kids, by myself! I make it a point to stop every 3 hours at a nice gas station (I prefer Quik Trip’s) for everybody to use the bathroom and to change the baby’s diaper. When we get back in the van, I hand out a snack and get gas if I need to. I only give out drinks (water) in the hour before our scheduled stop. When our dvd player worked, I would put on a dvd every second stop, but it has since met its demise, so now they play with toys or read. We like to listen to audio books on cd, so I check out a bunch of those from the library. I put all the cd’s in a traveling case to cut down on travel clutter. I also prefer to leave at 3 or 4 in the morning. It is much nicer to arrive at dinner time as opposed to bed time.

    By the way, their ages the last trip I made were 7, 6, 5, 3 and 1.

  12. ivy six-pack says:

    We’ve taken many road trips – and usually long hours (like Montana to New Jersey and back). One of those extra long trips I had to make by myself witht he six kids. A few thoughts:
    1. plan some stops at some rest areas so the kiddos can run! Some even have great playground equipment (theres and excellent one in central Iowa on I-80 – sad that I know that!)
    2. individual snack bags – the kids trade snacks and get what they want, but the bag has to last until they get there. That eliminates many questions for food at the gas stations 7 is easier on my wallet. (we’ve also given them $2 and told them they can buy something, but must be less than $2)
    3.kids books on CD or radio stories like Odessy or Jungle Jam
    4. Color Wonder
    5. be okay with your self if the last stretch become movie after movie to make it home in one piece! (this usually happens on day three when no one wants to be in the car anymore!)
    6. consider stopping early for dinner and then pool time at the hotel.

  13. ivy six-pack says:

    Word to the wise, proof before you hit “submit” – sorry about all the typos!

  14. Great tips! I love roa trips as well. When my daughter was a year old, we went on a 13 hour drive to Georgia to visit family. And I thought it was going to be a disaster… but nope, we planned well and guess what… it was a success! We took snacks, books, kiddie cd’s, and a few new toys.

    We also take short roadtrips (hour and a half drive) once a month or so. Another thing we do is to look for things that we are passing by. (Like busses, horses, trucks, etc.) Oh and I totally agree with you on the singing. My kids looove when hubby and I get goofy and sing songs in the car…. easily stops those tantrums.

  15. CINDY says:

    When my boys were 6weeks, 2yr & 4yr we took a trip across country to see family. We were gone 3-4 weeks and visited 25 states. This was done in a small Subaru. It was a great adventure and we’ve been travelling ever since. We’ve gone to Alaska, CA,and more trips than I can count from Idaho to PA. Never used a DVD player until our last trip when our boys were 15, 17 & 19 yrs old. Travelling! I highly recommend it!

  16. They sell Benadryl in Canada, right?

  17. CLEAVERMAMA says:

    I wouldn’t leave home without my DVD Player! The fun will be had when I get to the destination. Kudos to you!

  18. We try to travel with naps and bedtime as much as we can too. It makes the trip so much more enjoyable for everyone. We don’t do movies. Don’t even have a player in the car. My 2 yr old can entertain himself for up to 4 hrs. It’s great.

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