I’ve never flown anywhere with all three of my boys. At their ages(7, 6, and 4), they need so much stuff: car seats, changes of clothes, snacks, toys… it just seems easier to load it all into the minivan and not have to worry how we’d get everything with us on a plane without managing to lose a child or pay a gazillion dollars in baggage fees. Plus, we’d have to rent a car at our destination and bring the car seats with us- it just seems like such a hassle.
So, we drive.
Last week, the boys and I headed off to PA to visit family: a 10-12 hour drive, depending in traffic and pit stops. Hubs had to work and it was our first really long car ride without him- I knew I needed to figure out how to make it doable- to get us all there in one piece and without losing my mind.
- Snacks, drinks, and meals were all packed to reduce the amount of food stops we’d have to make- both for timing purposes and to save money. Beware getting snacks with too much sugar.
- All devices charged: iPhone, iPod, iPad, laptop, Nintendo DS: while we do have chargers and outlets in the van, it’s easier if everything starts out charged and we can rotate what has to be charged during the trip.
- New entertainment: the day before we left, I asked on facebook for your favorite free/cheap apps and downloaded a bunch. While they have their favorites already, sometimes something new is a distraction. We also rented a few movies. Unfortunately, we don’t have a dvd player in this van, but we could Redbox it for movies for the computer and then rent thru iTunes for the iPad- I have to admit that I was wishing for a new Toyota Sienna with its 16.4-inch rear seat DVD screen which can show one DVD in a widescreen format, or show two DVDs in a split-screen format. Someday, y’all.
- Barf bag in place. Gross, I know- but my oldest often gets car sick, so I have a bag all set for him and extras to replace it, as well as easy access to a change of clothes and bags to store the gross clothes, in the event I decide I want to try to salvage them after he loses his lunch.
- Trip mapped out: we usually use our Garmin but Hubs needed it, so I downloaded a 30-day Garmin trial to my iPhone: $.99 was totally worth knowing that we weren’t going to get lost, especially if we needed to take detours for things like potty breaks.
- I space out when I dole out entertainment and food: we try to drive for a little while before anyone gets to turn on a game device or get a drink or a snack. They shouldn’t be bored immediately, right?
- We stop for gas when the tank gets to about the halfway point, maybe a little under. That timing seems to work for potty breaks. Plus, I’d rather not chance waiting too long and end up running out of gas, especially if we get stuck in unexpected traffic.
- At one of our pit stops, the boys get a treat, despite whatever food we have in the van already. Something new seems special.
- Rotate the entertainment: my boy switched off on who was playing/watching what, to keep from getting bored.
- Keep perspective: my boys will pick at each other at various times during the trip and while I want to tell them hush, Mommy is DRIVING, it’s really not that bad if over the course of driving 11 hours, they fight for a total of 30 of them, spread out over multiple little whines.
What are your tips for successful road trips with kids?
Disclosure: I was selected for participation in the TWIN community through a program with Clever Girls Collective. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post, or payment in exchange for participating. The opinions expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the views of Toyota.