I’ve learned over the years that travelers are divided into two types of people, those who fly and those who drive.
Actually getting to the destination is the biggest stress for our family and now that there are five airline ticket paying individuals to account for, we’ve driven to our destinations more than I would personally like. You see, I’m a lazy mom and planning for a road trip takes a lot of work on the front end. Packing for vacation for three children is enough stress, but keeping them occupied in the car so they don’t ask “how much longer” approximately 1 million times is an entirely different level of stress.
Before I started traveling with my husband, the furthest I had road tripped was 3-4 hours from my home. Growing up, we were a flying family. We didn’t travel a ton, but when we did we flew to our destination. My husband was the exact opposite. They had four children in their family and flying was/is costly for six people, so they drove to most of the places they traveled. He has fond memories of renting a van and driving across western Kansas to Estes Park, CO with his grandparents in tow. They would remove the seats and lay blankets across the back of the van. Grandpa would play games and watch movies with them as they traveled. Such fun memories, but times have changed and so have seat belt laws so, removing the van seats and having a giant campout is out of the question… bummer.
As we are gearing up for our annual Spring Break road trip to Florida, I want my kids to remember road trips as fun family time adventures, not that their mom is a crazy person, so I’ve listed a few things I do to try to keep the minions entertained while also helping my husband to keep his sanity while driving.
- Bring all the snacks. Suckers at 7 a.m.? Sure, why not! I would argue the more unhealthy the better! I do not partake in the healthy eating battle on road trips. I do sneak in some fruit and cheese sticks, but I don’t fret if they choose cookies and suckers. We also try to plan our stops around meal times and get our food to go. We’ll do a bathroom stop and some running around while we order our food and then take it to go in the car. It makes for more of a mess but does give them something to do for a bit which passes a little more time.
- Check out some audiobooks from your local library. My middle daughter gets car sick pretty easily when she reads or colors in the car. This makes it a tad difficult to entertain her when she can’t really do anything that requires her to look down. I’m hoping that audio books will limit her from watching movies and YouTube videos for 21 hours straight.
- Bring enough for the kids to do that they don’t ask a billion times, “are we there yet?” I would suggest avoiding anything that involves small pieces or painting. I tried to be the cool mom last year and bought a painting kit for my girls. Epic fail. Paint and water were everywhere. Skip the detailed projects and keep it simple. Coloring books, word searches, Mad Libs, movies, iPads, video games, toys that light up and make noise are all good options when road tripping. When surviving a road trip anything goes, really. I usually buy items that don’t cost a fortune because they will probably only get used once. The Dollar Tree and the Target Dollar Spot are my best options for these.
- Have your kids wear shoes they can easily put on themselves. This one slipped my mind once and it never will again. Tying shoes or even just helping them to put on their shoes at every stop was a bit much especially if someone needed to race to the bathroom. My kids can’t wait to take off their shoes in the car and flip flops are great for this in the warmer months. Road trips are stressful with kids, shoes should not be.
- Buy those u-shaped neck pillows that you see people use on airplanes. I think we actually picked ours up from a rest stop during one of our road trips, but these look amazing as well! If my kids are able to sleep for a few hours on our drive we are all much happier. I try to keep them as comfortable as possible and buckled and trying to sleep can be so uncomfortable. The neck pillows keep them in a safe position while also being comfy while they sleep!
I think the most important thing I’ve learned is to chill out. I truly set the tone for my family and if I’m relaxed then it tends to trickle down to the rest of the family and makes for a much more enjoyable road trip. But if all else fails there’s always Dramamine or Benadryl to knock them out for a few hours of peace and quiet…I won’t tell.