We are a family who is often on the move. If we’re not running around close to home, we are in the car traveling to visit family. We have family in 3 states, so it’s not uncommon for us to pack up the minivan and spend some quality time together. We have met many challenges and have learned what works and what doesn’t when traveling with small kids. My husband and I are not huge fans of long car rides but we are getting better at it. Seeing our loved ones when we reach the end of the trip makes it worthwhile. Whether you are preparing for a first time or a season traveler, being prepared makes it a lot easier!
1. Expect to stop, frequently!
Kids need breaks. Kids who are potty training, need them often. Set the expectation early and know that you could potentially add about 1-2 hours on your travel time.
2. Even if you aren’t a family who watches much TV or movies, this is a great opportunity for a treat!
Riding in the car for a long period of time is tough for an adult, so put yourself in your little one’s shoes. Keep in mind this will only engage them for a portion of the trip, they eventually remember that they are strapped into a seat and that they do not want to be confined. I would recommend saving the movie until you need it!
3. Have a play list!
My boys love music and they have their favories! Have a little dance party in the car!
4. Pack familiar snacks.
Keep it healthy so as not to have kids trapped in the car and also hopped up on sugar. That being said-have a secret weapon! Ours is lollipops and they come out closer to the end of our journey, when we become desperate, it usually buys us about a 1/2 hour.
5. Schedule your departure around nap time or bedtime.
We have done both and prefer daytime travel. The nighttime departure can backfire, big time! The kids may crash during the trip but may be wide awake when you reach your destination. Unless you know youwill run into rush hour on 128 and have to leave later in the evening, leave late morning!
6. Pack a busy bag!
Ours has books, coloring books, toy cars, a small photo album and stuffed animals. You can sneak in something new to distract them as well!
7. Let the kids get comfy.
If you travel in the evening, put them in PJs. If leaving during the daytime, try sweats and tshirts. Keep it casual, let them kick off their shoes/boots, coats, etc. If they’re comfy, they’ll be happy!
8. Have fun!
How often is your whole family stuffed together in one place for a long period of time? Talk to each other, laugh and sing. When the kids fall asleep, you and hubby could have an hour or more to hang out, a car date!
Kids and travel are unpredictable. Be prepared and open-minded but most of all, have an amazing time!
What are some of your tips and tricks for surviving long car rides?