So, my kids have been road trip warriors since birth. We had Katie in the car at 3 days old going to Chula Vista (in Cali) to go to the “pick-a-part” place. We had Jonathan taking camping trips at 3 months old. Natalee was my “long haul” kid, making several 9 hour trips to grandma’s starting at 2 months old. The photo to the left was taken on a road trip to NC in December with my aunt (who was sitting behind me), my cousin (riding shotgun), and baby cousin (infant seat).
There are a few things I’ve learned along the way to survive the trips, AND still be able to say to yourself “I want to do that again”.
Snacks – this is a must! Especially for “long” trips (anything over 3 hours). When the kids were little, I would use empty plastic baby food tubs for things like goldfish, pretzels & raisins. The size was perfect for little hands to hold, as well as helping with portion control. We also typically keep a cooler with water, juice bottles with “squirt tops”, string cheese and sodas (for mom!). I try not to take juice boxes, because one squeeze and the kid ends up wearing most of it! Tip! Keep the cooler where its’ easily accessible to the older children, and not up front where it is mom/dad only, or in the very back where it would require stopping to get stuff. The older children can help with the younger children when it comes to divvying up snacks, opening drinks.
Electronics - this is another “must have”. One of the good things about my van is we have a built in DVD player. It helps pass the time, IF we can get the kids to all agree on a movie! Often, I let the boys pick a movie on the way to our destination, and the girls pick on the trip home (or vice versa). Don’t forget chargers! Tip! Rent a redbox movie as a special treat, and return it when you get to your destination.
Between our 4 kids, we have 2 school issued iPads, 2 DS’s, 1 kindle fire, 1 iPhone, 1 regular flip phone and 1 personal iPad. Patrick and I each have our own phones. Keeping all this straight is a challenge, and I learned on the last trip that I need to get more organized before we tackle another family road trip. Tip! Make sure to download any updates on apps you may need before you go, in case you need a WiFi connection to do so.
Roadtrip Games! – This is more Patrick and I since we are in our own little world in the front seat. We’ve both gotten good at tuning the kids out unless we hear crying or fighting. We like to play the ABC Game (although I don’t like his rules!), or even getting numbers 0-9 in order (harder than it sounds). Tip! Kelly over at Three Boys & a Dog has put together a great list of printable road trip games & activities for kids.
Gas Prices - This is again more for Patrick and I. I have the Gas Buddy app (available on iTunes and PlayStore for Android), which lets you see all the gas prices in a particular location (you type in the city of zip code), or you can do a search for “what’s around you”. We tend to try to stop at gas stations too that look like they will have half decent bathrooms, because with 4 kids – someone always needs to go (although we tend to make them all try to go!).
Other things that are totally necessary whenever we are on a road trip…
roll of paper towels
plastic bags (for garbage, sickness, etc)
And patience, lots and lots of patience is always required. Kids get bored, detours happen, spills happen. Preparing ahead of time will help keep your stress down, and make the ride more enjoyable for all!
What tips do you have for road tripping?