How to Survive a Road Trip With Kids
Road trips!!! Cue the horror music. AHHHH! Not so fast. Keep reading so I can tell you how to survive a road trip with kids. I assure you it can be done and you will be itching to plan a road trip when you finish reading this. Scouts honor. (So I’m not a scout but I’m pretty hopeful you will want to give it a try.) Let me just give you a bit of a background on my family and our road trips thus far.
Eddy and I have 4 kids, in 6 years. We don’t mess around. 🙂 Our cutie kids include: Mr. E who is 6. Miss L is 4. Miss S is 2. Miss N is 8 months.
This year alone we have logged about 4,300 miles in our van just for road trips, and it’s only August. We have visited Santa Fe, New Mexico; Seattle, Washington; Park City, Utah; and Fort Collins, Colorado. We are also planning on going to Southern California at the end of November. That is five, FIVE trips this year! Up until last summer (2017) we had only taken the kids to St. George every year, Las Vegas once, Park City every year, and to the extended family’s ranch in North Eastern Utah a few times. Last summer we had our first long road trip and first ever ocean beach trip to San Diego, California. Our kids still play going to San Diego. Haha.
You may be asking why the increase of long road trips. You may be wondering why we would do this. Let me explain.
- We have some pretty amazing family that we really wanted to go visit. Two of the trips were time sensitive. We wanted to visit family and see the cool places they lived while they still lived there. Two families have moved already. We made it just in time.
- Road trips are a lot less expensive then flying. As a family trying to get out of student loan debt we need less expensive right now.
- Mr. E’s school breaks and Eddy’s good weeks of work (when he works less) coincided perfectly so it was a no brainier to plan a road trip.
- Road trips are a good way to get some good family time AND see some awesome places.
Now I want you to think back to when you were little and you had to be stuffed into a car with your stinky siblings for hours upon hours. Fun, right? For me that looked like this…
My CD player and lots of CD’s to listen to in my bag. I also had a book or two in my bag. My pillow was right by me and there were sisters all around me. My dad would turn on his music (I did like his music, so that was a plus). My mom would have packed snacks. And off we would go. It wouldn’t be long until I was ready to sleep or just plain bored out of my mind. I remember my uncle had put a small TV in their car. WHAT?! I was so jealous because they could watch a movie in the car on their road trips. I know my sisters and I fought, annoyed my parents, and asked how much longer we had until we got there.
Now that I am the mom getting pretty much everything ready (control issues guys!) I need to give my mom and dad a huge sorry I was a pain while we road tripped! I now get while there were times my parents were not the most fun while we were driving for hours. As a family we want to travel a lot and take our kids to see as much as we can. I have thought a lot about how Eddy and I can make road tripping easier for us. So get ready, hold on to your hats while I teach you how to survive a road trip with kids.
Let’s get real for a minute. The second the wheels are turning kids are hungry and asking you for something to eat. I can turn into a bear in half a second when it comes to turning around in my chair. I get motion sick easier in my older age. I feel like I have to be a contortionist to reach things to kids. So my solution is to make each person a lunch. I bought a 10 pack of reusable meal prep containers. They all have different color lids and each one has three sections. I can put a sandwich and two sides for everyone in my family. I start out with fruit and veggie sides.
I pack a cooler with snacks that are washed and ready to go. Some things I include are apples, cuties, cut up veggies, string cheese, a salad for me, yogurt, drinks, etc. I also pack a tub with foods that do not need to stay cold. Some things I include are: nuts, crackers, peanut butter, applesauce, candy, bread, etc. Both the cooler and tub get put right behind the passenger and driver seats so I have access to them at all times.
I am getting pretty good at throwing things back to my kids and getting them in a spot where they can get them. Mr. E is getting tall enough that between him and myself we can get lots of things back and forth while stretching as much as we can. I have also heard of people using grabbers to hand things back to kids. Not a bad idea.
Usually before we leave for a trip I let the kids each pick out a treat or snack that they want to have on the road trip. By having their lunches prepared in individual containers we can save money and I know they are getting a healthier meal. Also, by having snacks washed, prepared, and ready to throw back we can solve hangry tantrums. On road trips we usually let them have a lot more snacks and treats. It saves everybody and mostly my sanity! Snacks for the win!
This past Christmas I got our family a portable DVD player knowing that we had some road trips planned. I was super excited. I thought my kids would love it. Not so much. “You serious Clark?” But the night before we left for New Mexico Eddy bought another one. He is a genius! I loaded lots of movies into a case and got everything charged. We were ready to go!
It wasn’t 5 minutes into our drive before Mr. E and Miss L were asking to watch a movie. haha That is how it began. Pretty much a full day of watching movies. And I’m here to tell you it was awesome!! It was so worth having two DVD players. The only annoying thing was having to help them get movies going and fix any problems that arose. Again, getting myself ready for my contortionist act.
I have had friends tell me that they hold out as long as possible or don’t even let their kids know they have movies. Not me! I’m all let’s get a movie playing as soon as possible. Confession: I used to try to have them wait a bit, but what’s the point? We are all stuck in a small space for HOURS, let’s make it a little more bearable.
Eddy and I kept our old i Phones when we got new ones. They are old, have cracks, and add hours of fun on a road trip. Before our first road trip this year I took forever taking pretty much everything off of them and putting a few free apps and one paid app onto each of them. Miss S is a little too young for the DVD players (I’d like to keep my DVDs and players in one piece, thank you very much) so she gets first pick of the phones. She usually lasts a while before she asks for a phone. Miss S goes crazy taking pictures. We will here her take a picture then a giggle. Over and over again. It is so cute. We have tons of pictures and videos on those phones. Mr. E took about a 12 minute video while driving in Seattle area.
Each of my kiddos have a backpack. The girl’s are so small and darling! Before we go on a road trip they can not wait to stuff it full of toys, memes, stuffed animals, and sometimes snacks. I’m that mom that takes it all out to put in some things that are just for road trips (coloring books, crayons, post its, pens, educational books), plus a few toys (cars, little animals, My Little Pony’s), their meme, and a stuffed animal. I did leave some of the things that they picked out.
I do this for a few reasons:
- I like to know what’s in their backpack. I can help keep things from getting lost or left if I know what in the backpacks.
- They put some RANDOM stuff in there. They don’t need a plastic rock or part of a plastic tree…
- I want it to be a surprise for them. I love surprises. 🙂 I think it is fun for them to open their backpacks to see what they get to play with. I guess I should ask if they like that. They may just hate it and want to know what they have.
- The more stuff that they cram into their backpacks that means there will be more stuff all over the van. Ain’t nobody has time for that. Haha
Music/Book on Tape
I don’t have any songs on my phone, I haven’t used a CD (besides Christmas) for ages. But Eddy has his phone packed with his songs. He is an 80’s fan. It is great music but…after hours of listening to it I need a break. So my goal for our next road trip is to either put some music on my phone or dig out some CDs and get a book on tape. It will be great to be able to listen to a book while all the kiddos are either sleeping, watching a movie, or playing on an old phone.
We have a neighbor that drove around town for about 30 minutes while they finished their book on tape. After driving all day they didn’t want to not finish it. That’s dedication to their book on tape. 🙂 The benefit of music or a book on tape is to help make the time pass quickly, it’s super fun to jam out while driving, and it helps to keep me awake. What are some good books on tape that you would recommend?
When our baby was 2 and 3 months our road trips were slick! We had a routine down. When we had to stop Eddy would take the big kids to the bathroom. Meanwhile I would nurse Miss N in the car. If he was back I would run to the bathroom while he changed Miss N’s diaper. If he wasn’t back I would change her diaper. Then I would nurse her again on the other side. Eddy would change Miss S’s diaper and get the kids back in the car (movies and snacks ready). Sometimes I would run to the bathroom again other times we head on out. If we were fast we could be done within 20 minutes. That’s one quick stop with 4 little kids. We would try to go 3-4 hours before stopping again.
The problem is me! I have the world’s smallest bladder. I make a point to not drink very much. I don’t think it helps much. We still need to stop more often then we’d like for me to use the ladies room. Haha, one trip when I was pregnant we had to stop 3-4 times in a 4 hour drive. LOL Sorry babe!
Gone are the days of laying on the floor of the car while we go on road trips. But road trips are so much fun! With a little preparation and a whole lot of movies and snacks you too can have a road trip of your dreams. If not, I always joke with Eddy that we need a sound-proof partition that rolls up behind our seats. Problem solved! Haha!
Let me know of your tricks, tips, and hacks to make road trips awesome!