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Tips To Survive A Family Road Trip

26 April 2011 One Comment

Our little family is quite the brood of road warriors. We hardly ever fly anywhere because 1. NIGHTMARE with a toddler and 2. EXPENSIVE. But, we have family all over the place, and we like to visit them as often as we can. So that means many long, looooonnnnnng trips on the road, and they usually start to gear up this time of year.

I’ve learned a few things over the last few years of travelling with a small child, and I thought I’d share some of my tips to make family road travel as manageable as possible.

1. Maximize sleepy time- We like to leave early in the morning or sometimes late at night to take advantage of the times of the day when children are most likely to sleep for a good chunk of the trip. For trips that will take 4-5 hours, I like to leave right before lunchtime. We treat our son to lunch on the road and then he usually takes a long nap after, waking just as we arrive at our destination.

2. Plan your food stops ahead of time- There are some parts of this country where you can drive for hours without finding an appetizing and/or clean place to eat. Look at your route ahead of time, hop online and see what’s going to be along the way. No options? Sounds like a great opportunity for a picnic! In my experience, the states with the fewest healthy eating options often have the coolest, nicest road stops, complete with clean bathrooms and playgrounds. Pack a lunch before embarking and take advantage of the fresh air stop by allowing enough time for the kids to blow off some steam at the play areas.

3. Pack plenty of distractions- We are big fans of the portable DVD player for long road trips. It only gets used for times we are in the car for longer than 2 hours, so it’s a special treat. Don’t like the idea of TV time in the car? Try downloading a new children’s audio book or a CD of kids tunes before you leave. You may end up sacrificing listening to your music, but it will be worth the sanity.

4. Keep necessities close- Don’t be caught on the side of the road, digging through your luggage in your over-stuffed trunk, trying to find a change of clothes for the kid who couldn’t hold it long enough to make it to the next rest stop. Keep a bag that’s easily accessible and fill it with the following: change of clothes for each kid, wipes, hand sanitizer, small snacks, water, a towel, and a plastic bag.

5. Coffee!- My husband and I are certified coffee addicts, especially of the green, starry variety (if you catch my drift). Believe it or not, once you venture into the heart of the country, there actually isn’t one on every corner. Not even in every county! We take our own travel mugs and some of their instant coffee packs and make our own using hot water at the coffee makers (free!) from whatever gas station we come across. Goodness knows we need coffee to survive a long road trip with children!

What about you? Do you have any big family trips planned? What are your tips for keeping your sanity and calming the chaos?

Jill is a blogger and member of the BornFree Mom Panel

One Comment »

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