Traveling with kids… did you cringe? Almost every time I mention going on road trips with the little one someone cringes. My guess is, folks imagine a lot of potty stops, whining and asking, “are we there yet?” We’ve had 3 days road trips and, we’ve also had seven-hour road trips. Road trips with the kids aren’t really that bad. And with the right amount of preparation, it can go without a hitch.
Here are 4 ways to help you survive a road trip with the kids:
Pump it up
Kids pick up on energy; good energy and bad energy. I’ve noticed that when I am nervous or sad, my son picks up on it, no matter how much I try to cover it up. I knew if I approached our road trips with negative energy, he wouldn’t be excited. We told him about our most recent road trip a few weeks before, so we created a cool paper-chain countdown to boost the kid’s excitement in anticipation. He’d wake up each day excited to rip a link off the chain, which in turn, made him grow more excited about the trip each day. This is how ours came out.
Involve the kids
At times we may think it’s a lot easier (and faster) to just plan everything from top to bottom; there aren’t any interruptions. You don’t have to repeat yourself over and over again. Things will be done your way. But when my son asked to help me pack his suitcase, I actually got excited. That means he was invested. So, I included him in more than just the packing. We looked at the map and pointed out the states and cities we were going to visit. He was already familiar with a few areas. Thanks, Blippi! As the time got closer to go on our trip, I asked if there were any particular things he wanted to see or places he wanted to visit. These conversations, again, helped with his excitement. But they also eased any nervousness he may have had about visiting new places and meeting new people.
I am an avid list maker. I have lists for everything; grocery lists, to-do lists and, what to pack lists. The earlier I start my list, the more time I have to add things. If I don’t write it down, it does not get packed. Tried it, doesn’t work too well. Start early. Using these packing lists helped tremendously.
Pack the essentials
This should go without saying but, you MUST pack things to keep the kid(s) occupied. If you’re packing an iPad or tablet, make sure to download favorite movies and shows to access when there is no wi-fi. Don’t forget the chargers. I repeat, DO NOT FORGET THE CHARGERS. We also packed coloring books, crayons and, markers. Sometimes my son gets tired of watching the iPad. Suprising, I know. He’s a builder and needs to keep his hands busy. So, we also packed mini magnetic blocks for him to have fun with. Including things that reminded him of “home” worked wonders. Favorite stuffed animals or dolls usually do the trick. Yes, he still carries around a stuffed animal. The great thing about road trips is you aren’t as limited with baggage. There aren’t any rules about weight limits. This gives parents the option to pack a little more if need be.
I was honestly nervous about traveling to three different states on the road with the kid. I just knew I would lose the small amount of patience I had, but we survived. We had a great time on the road. The kid remained excited and engaged the entire time.
The best road trips are ones that keep everyone engaged. It’s an opportunity to introduce different places and spaces to them. Each stop is a chance to learn and to play in a new environment. It’s a chance to take in all of the beauty the open road has to offer.
Have you gone on a road trip with your little one(s)? How’d you survive?