We are home, safe and sound! On Caleb’s first road trip, we logged over 2,500 miles, spent over 40 hours in the van, and he collected a new country, one province, and five new states! Not bad for an 11 week old. =)
My friend, Becky, asked if I’d do a post on traveling with young kids. Here it is. It is certainly not a “one size fits all”, but hopefully you will find it helpful.
* DVD player, useful but not to be depended on (choose DVD’s that won’t drive you crazy listening to them (we have a no repeat rule)
* Bring lots of snacks, drinks, (mostly water, so they drink to quench their thirst, not just for fun like they would with juice or soda…), toys, books, coloring supplies. I bring plastic cups to fill with snacks (goldfish, pretzels, etc) that they can put in their cup holders to minimize spills and crushing.
* Nap/quiet time in afternoon as you drive. We play kids music cds quietly during this time.
* Try to plan to drive less each day, so your kids don’t get burned out. The amount that you can max out at will depend on your family. Your and the kid’s tolerance will only Lessen as the days go by. =) We can usually do about 600 miles the first day. If you’re able to get a super early start, you may be able to do more. We have tried leaving at 4 am and hoping the kids would go back to sleep, but that hasn’t worked well for us. 8 is a good departure time for us.
* If you stop at a play place, have the kids play while you eat, then let them eat in the van as you drive.
* When approaching a stop, have the kids put their shoes, jackets on, etc so you can get out as soon as you stop to minimize wasted time.
* When kids ask how much longer, put your answer it terms of time they can understand. For example, we say, “It’s about as long as your Cars movie two times over…”
* Play games - Alphabet game, I Spy…
* When choosing hotels, we try to find one with a pool (something for the kids to look forward to, and a good way to have them burn off some pent up energy before bed (and a contintental breakfast, so we don’t have to make an additional stop before hitting the road in the morning). We don’t usually have a stopping place chosen or a hotel booked at the beginning of the day. We decide this as the day is getting to an end, and book something online.
* At rest areas, let them run wild for a few minutes to burn off some energy.
* Don’t stop for just one reason – combine bathroom/gas/food stops whenever possible
* Philip uses gasbuddy.com to find the cheapest gas close to our route as we’re traveling.