Long Car Trips with Littles

Long distance traveling can be daunting.  There are some who avoid certain vacation destinations simply because of the dreaded road trip.  While it’s always possible that a trip may devolve Griswold style, there are ways to help ease the “are we there yets?”.

I feel like we’ve become experts at long distance traveling.  Yet, on the same hand, I feel like we are completely clueless.  Having in-laws out of state, combined with my love of Disney, history and the beach, we find ourselves in the car every couple of months, subjecting the kids to yet another long voyage to a super awesome destination.

Here are a few tips we’ve picked up along the way:

1) Pack snacks, lots of them.  The Ziplock bag is my best friend on a long journey.  I pack 3 times what I think the boys will eat.  Diversity is a good thing too.  We pack Cheerios, graham crackers, Goldfish, apples, bananas, yogurt snacks and granola bars.  I also carry a small cooler bag with an ice pack for my littlest guy’s milk along with any other perishables.

2) Take breaks and exercise.  It is so tempting to get in the car and want to go go go.  But in little person world, an hour can be an eternity.  So we usually stop every two hours. During these stops I like to get the boys running and moving.  They have a lot of energy stored up–it’s good to let them release it.

3) Pack a bag with toys & books.  We usually bring an etch a sketch, Leaptop, board books, a couple toy cars, mini-piano, and the iPad.  Noisy yes, but much better than screaming and whining.

4) DVD player and movies.  Yes, I know, we are supposed to limit the kids screen time.  However, I am one of those moms who will take the risk of them acquiring ADD if it means peace in the car.  For those parents who are concerned about teaching moments, the Leap Frog Scout series is great.  Your kids can learn their ABCs and counting, etc.

5) Time the trip with their nap/sleep schedule.  Now, this is not always possible.  If you have a shorter trip of 3-4 hours, leaving just prior to nap time is great.  If you are going on a 14 hour drive to Walt Disney World, leave at 3 in the morning; or even better, leave at 9pm the night before (just make sure you have LOTS of coffee).

6) Be patient and creative.  Play car games, counting games, color games, I spy.  Keep your cool when they start to get miserable;  tell lots of silly jokes, sing songs, make up stories about things around you. Diversion can be your best friend!

Okay parents, we’re all in this together. What tips do you have?


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