My first tip is…
DON’T DO IT. NO ROAD TRIP.
Ha. Kidding. Kind of.
But really…it’s not my favorite thing although I will say that there are definitely some things that I’ve learned over the past almost 4 years we’ve been no strangers to a road trip with kids.
1. A few favorite toys.
This is really important. But perhaps more important is that you use them very sparingly! My kids get sick of things quicker than usual when they are strapped into their carseats so I am fairly strategic about what I bring and how I use it on the trip (especially when it’s just me and the boys.) Books are always a fan favorite and this cute little carrying case is perfect for the car I put them in the front seat so I can pass back as needed. This laugh and learn laptop is a family favorite (warning- it does make noise but I don’t find it particularly annoying.)
This magna doodle (in the picture) is super old so I couldn’t find it but this one looks even better! Another toy that both of my kids love. So I do rely on these each taking 15-30 minutes depending on the mood of my kids ;).
These are just suggestions, you know your kids’ favorites. I will say that smaller and more portable the better, also the least dangerous or heavy if you have anyone like my son John who when he is done not so gingerly tosses the toy at the window. Lighter works better here- just in case!!!
2. Something new.
I don’t do this every time and by no means is this anything huge. But it’s amazing what a new thing your kids have never seen before can do to the bored in the backseat type (whether they’re able to verbalize that by saying “I’m bored” or if they say it by screaming and crying for 90 minutes- oh wait that’s just my kid?!?!!?) Either way a new toy even something really small. Stickers from the dollar store and a sheet of paper, a new car/figurine, or whatever latest toys your kids are into. The trick here is using this at the right moment in the trip. This is going to sounds so awful. If you’re kids are a little older than mine (my older 3 1/2 year old is probably almost old enough) these window decals would totally pass some time- they just have to be able to reach the windows from their car seats. These color wonder travel kits are also amazing (and mess free!)
3. Kid Music.
I know. I know. I know. Kids love kids music and even though for the most part it can be pretty unbearable something about the fear of your kids losing their minds and in turn torturing you as your stuck driving to grandma’s house is enough to get you singing all 100 songs from your best sing along cds available 😉 You may want to rely on some your more favorite kids stuff but I find the good old fashioned sing alongs keep my kids smiling and laughing longer than they otherwise would’ve in the car, especially?
4. Non-Kid Music.
(adult music sounds weird and dirty and like something you shouldn’t listen to on a road trip) But my kids love to dance to lots of different kinds of music. Some of their favorites are One More by Jimmy Cliff (though there is one inappropriate line, but watching them dance to it is for priceless,)
But after you’ve endured She’ll be coming ’round the mountain, BINGO, The ABC’s, and you catch my drift, you’re going to be ready for some good old sing along songs for you. A couple of good playlists with songs your kids love (that are not kid songs) sprinkled in can create an instant car dance party!
5. Sense of Humor.
For the most part, I would say this is the # 1 thing you need as a parent in general (and a road trip with the under 3 crowd, or any crowd for that matter is no exception.) And honestly if you didn’t laugh, a lot of the time, you’d cry. Or maybe that’s just me. Try to make jokes, tell jokes, listen to jokes, and have as low key of an attitude as humanly possible it will make everythign better for everyone. The more you are laughing the less you are ________ (you fill in the blank- stressing, yelling, worrying, frustrated…)
6. No Agenda, who cares if it takes quadruple the time to get there…
I’m only half joking here, but I do feel like this has been the hardest part for me. The trip to my family from our house is a 5 1/2 hour trip for the average cat. Pre kids I used to regularly make it in 4 1/2 – 5 hours. Post kids it’s a 6 hour minimum trip. This is hard to adjust to. Especially because all I can think the entire trip is at which point is everyone going to lose their shit, and you’re really just buying time until then. Once that happens well yea it’s not a good thing. So if you can just try to be as flexible as humanly possible realizing that adding kids to the mix is basically giving up all control FOREVER and then you should be a-ok. You may even be pleasantly surprised at times :).
What are you best road trip secrets? Do you travel with your kids often?
Happy holiday road tripping!