We just returned from a quick weekend trip to Maine. It was a four-hour drive from Connecticut and went much smoother than I would have imagined. Despite the crazy traffic on the way there, the kids did great and were on their best behavior.
We arrived and the kids immediately wanted to take advantage of the pool at the hotel. It was the perfect size for little ones.
Although a quick one night trip, we made the most of it and fell in love with the town. We are already planning our trip back next year.
Last week was a little practice to the next adventure we are taking. Next week the kids and I are embarking on a month-long road-trip down to Florida. I know, you think I’m crazy. I know I’m crazy. We are breaking the trip up and doing a week in South Carolina until heading down to Florida.
The part that I am worried the most about is the 10+ hour drive I have back from Florida to North Carolina all by myself. I’m very positive about the whole thing right now, but I know the reality is that it’s going to be crazy. Macks still hates his car seat and hates sitting still, Avery gets car sick, and Harlan usually has to go to the bathroom every hour.
We’re not on a strict schedule for the trip, so I can definitely break it into smaller trips and even thought about finding somewhere between Florida and North Carolina that would be fun for us to visit and stay (if you have any ideas/suggestions, please let me know.)
Although I know the trip won’t go exactly as planned, I do have some tips that have helped us along the way. If you’re taking a road trip with your kids this summer, use these tips to help make the ride go more smoothly.
1. Set your expectations. One of the most important things before you leave for your road-trip is to set your expectations. If you have little ones, know that you are going to make frequent stops, so give yourself ample time to get to your destination. Know that it’s not going to be smooth sailing throughout the entire drive. You will have kids that argue over what to watch, that are tired of being in a car for so long, that want to eat every five minutes. It happens to the best of us and try to be as patient as possible. I find that if you go into the trip knowing that there will be bumps in the road, it will go much easier for everyone.
2. Bring entertainment. And bring a lot. Between movies, coloring books, stickers, I always make sure to go to the store and raid the dollar bin to see what I can find to keep them entertained. My girls love to color, so to keep the crayons from ending up everywhere, I put the crayons in an old tall plastic container that was used for spices or parmesan cheese so that they can easily remove the lid and access them. Up until recently I was buying cheap dvds for them to watch in the car, but our last road-trip, I just went to a Red Box and rented dvds. They can be returned anywhere and usually you can find a kiosk in any city. It was an inexpensive way to let them watch the movies they want to watch and watch a variety of them. Think about games you can play along the way to pass the time. The girls currently love i-spy. I’ll probably get a travel bingo for them to play as well. Love to keep it old school during a trip and not rely on just electronics. Another great trick is to get magnets and an old metal lunch box, they can store the magnets in the lunch box and play with them by just opening it up and using the top as their board. You can also do this with a cookie sheet.
3. Bring the entire pantry and refrigerator. I’m only kidding (a little.) While I always raid the dollar bin for entertainment, I do also make a trip to the grocery store for snacks for the trip. I have sandwiches ready to go when they want them, snacks, yogurt, drinks, fruit. I try to have as much of a variety as possible so that we don’t have to make as many stops because they are hungry.
4. Figure out a time that works best for you. We prefer leaving early in the morning so the kids sleep for a couple of hours and by the time they wake up, we already have a big chunk of our road trip done. They are usually the happiest in the morning time, so it’s not as painful of a drive as in the afternoon. Some families prefer to travel in the night hours when their kids are sleeping (my kids don’t work that way and will stay up as late as possible in the car.) Find a time that works best for you and plan on leaving then so that you can have some peace and quiet for the drive.
5. Be prepared. I always pack an extra set of clothes and put them close to me just in case there is an accident of any kind. I will pack paper towels, wipes, and trash bags (put in an empty wipes case to store so you can easily take out when you need them.) To make a DIY trash-can that’s the perfect size for your car, put a trash bag in a cereal container and then put the lid on. It’s a great (and easy) way to keep your trash all in one place and easy to discard.
6. Stay organized. I don’t like a mess, especially is cramped spaces like a car. Every time we stop, I try to reorganize everything in the car. I throw out the trash and put everything where it needs to be. A great hack that I have found works well is to buy shoe racks (the plastic ones) and put them on the back of the seat of the car so that you have plenty of pockets to keep all of your little one’s toys, crayons, and snacks (off topic, but this also works great for stuffed animals in their room.)
7. Bring a potty. Yes a travel one. Because you never know when they will have to go and there’s no restroom in site.