Travelling with kids isn't always easy or fun, but we've spent the last two days in the car driving to Tennessee. This was the call that had sent me into a frenzy last week. My husband had called on Tuesday to let me know he was heading to Tennessee for work and that if we wanted to join him we could all drive down together. I had 4 days to plan an entire 6 day "vacation" -- I had to find hotels, pack all the suitcases and figure out what we were going to do on the one day we were planning to spend time in Nashville. It wasn't fun and many times throughout the end of the week I found myself wondering if it would be worth it. I was not looking forward to the drive at all either. We had only ever taken one other long road trip to North Carolina many years ago when my parents lived there. Imagine my surprise when we arrived in Tennessee without any problems! Some of it was luck I'm sure but I do have some fool proof ideas for traveling with kids.
Linking Up With:
- Electronics-- Pretty much anything goes on the road and for my kids the biggest distractor is electronics. They brought their Nintendo DS's, portable DVD player, MP3 players, Kindles, I had my laptop (for a second movie screen), and they even played apps on both my phone and my husbands phone. They each had headphones and I'd say it was totally silent for at least 50% of the trip!
- Snacks-- We spent one day last week where we went to the store and the boys were able to pick out lots of snacks. My only rule was that it could not be chocolate or anything else that would "melt" in the car. But I did allow them to buy food that I would not normally buy them. We packed pop tarts, Oreo cookies, Twizzlers, peanut butter cracker sandwiches, Pringles, and fruit roll- ups. We managed to go as far as 4 hours at a time between stops at many points throughout the trip. It was a huge time saver!
- Audiobooks-- my kids LOVE them and since we were almost at the end of the 4th Percy Jackson book we made sure to get the final book on CD from our library before heading out. We listened to the book quite frequently on our long drive and it was a nice distraction.
- Bag of toys-- I have each boy pack a backpack or bag with all their favorite things to do. They're old enough now where I told them they were responsible to pack anything they thought they might like do or must have with them on the trip. They packed their favorite blankets, stuffed animals, coloring book and colored pencils and markers (no crayons since they tend to melt). It's where they put their DS, Kindle, DVD's etc. too so that everything they'd like to do for the day is right at their fingertips.
- Travel time-- we decided to wake the boys early and head out first thing in the morning on Saturday hoping to avoid a lot of traffic and get a head start on our day. We knew they could sleep in the car if they needed/ wanted to so we got up at 4:30 and left the yard by 5. We picked a less traveled route and didn't hit ANY traffic at all in two's day time; something I attribute more to luck than anything else with all the roadwork going on this time of the year. We wanted to travel most of the day on our first day and made it to western Virginia in record time (not to be confused with West Virginia).
- Comfy travel clothes-- I told the boys they could stay in their pajamas if they wanted to or else they should get dressed in comfy clothes for the drive. Sure we got some looks as we got out of the car at our various stops for bathrooms and food since the two younger boys spent the entire days drive in their pajamas, but so what, the boys were happy and quiet.
- Car games-- we played a few (though not many-- the boys were content to play with their electronics most of the time). I had handed each of the boys a blank U S map and told them they could color in the states as we passed through them; marking our route, or else they could color in the states of all the license plates we see on other cars around us but I left it up to them. I think, ultimately, I'm the only one who colored in states and I chose to color in all the license plates we saw. I did call out when I saw a new plate and asked who knew the capital of that state. Alec knows quite a few capitals!
- Know your limits-- and know your kids' limits too. When the boys were younger and we traveled we made frequent stops so they could stretch their legs and run around. Anytime we stop for anything-- gas, food, bathroom, etc. we make everyone get out and walk around a bit. We were thrilled to arrive at our hotel around dinnertime. As soon as we checked in and brought our bags up we had the boys change and we hit the hotel pool for an hour or so. They jumped and swam and yelled and I tried my best to exhaust them and help them expel their energy. I challenged them to race one another from one end of the pool to the other on top of the water, underwater, using the back stroke, etc. They had us time them doing various tricks and things and tried to beat their best times. We could have traveled farther since it was pretty early in the day to stop but I'm not really sure the boys would have handled another few hours in the car all cooped up.