Last week we packed up the family and headed some +17 hours south to sunny Florida. Because of the high costs of flying with six people, the only way we were going to pull off the trip was to hit the road and drive.
Driving across the country is exhausting in general, but driving across the country with four small children is a unique type of epic marathon. Going into the trip, I knew the most important thing to pack would be our patience, and of course a few other essential road trip items.
5 Tips for Road-tripping with small children:
1. Pack a fun bag. For my big girls (ages 8 and 5), I packed an activity bag filled with fresh coloring books, new boxes of crayons and markers, and plenty of new to them Disney themed movies borrowed from a friend. 2. Healthy Snacks. Each kid got a brown paper lunch bag filled with their very own selection of healthy snack. They didn’t have to constantly ask me for food, because they had a small bag of tasty treats with them right at their seat. I kept the snacks healthy and simple, to avoid sugar crashes and belly aches down the road.
3. Lots of Pit-Stops. While the trip lasted almost 18 hours in total, we stopped approximately every three hours or so, regardless of if we needed gas or a potty break. At each stop, we played a quick game of Simon Says, and did a few jumping jacks, and I nursed the baby.
4. Sleeping Halfway. We broke the trip into two legs. 10 hours the first day, and the remaining 7 the next. I found a great deal online for a hotel suite with lots of amenities (2 queen beds, and 1 pull out sofa, heated pool and free hot breakfast). By stopping, sleeping, and swimming in a pool, we arrived at our destination rested and ready to have fun. Plus, the kids thought sleeping in a hotel room and ordering take-out pizza for dinner was so cool!
5. Maintain Low Expectations. We kept the travel agenda light and flexible, expecting things to not go as planned. By expecting the unexpected, we (hardly) ever lost our cool or became disappointed when things didn’t go they way they should have.
Traveling by car with small children requires tons of careful packing and planning. But at the end of the day, spending time with family and friends makes all the effort so very worth it.
When you travel with your family, do you drive or fly? What is your best tip for traveling with kids?
I have never done big road trips with the kids. I usually like to sit in the back with them to keep them occupied on short trips.
I did that when we took our 18 hour road trip this summer. I road in the front until my youngest started getting fussy and then road in the back near him and entertained him until I got carsick and had to move back to the front, lol. He fell asleep then though so it worked.
We drive for closer and fly for distant. One thing I like to do is to get small toys and treats and wrap them carefully and hand them out from time to time. The child gets to unwrap the toy and then play with it.