” You are so brave! “
” Will the kids sit for so long? “
” It is going to be so hard with little kids. “
These are just some of the comments of disbelief we heard when we announced our cross country trip by car with our 6 and 3 year old kids. But we were adamant. With flight + baggage prices super inflated and every destination needing at least one stop over, it just made practical sense. Also, we had always wanted to see USA by road. Real people along real roads.
The experience was an outstanding one. We saw almost half of America’s beautiful vistas. Traveling from Virginia to Colorado to Chicago and Back. A little sight seeing, mountains and lots of indoor kids activities like Lego land, Ball Factory etc. We tried many different foods. We met a lot of old friends too.
The impromptu trip taught us to connect as a family and just Be! On a personal level I learned how hard I was driving myself to achieve too much without focus. A new experience enriches our soul like no other.
As far as the kids were concerned, the 2 week trip, 12-15 hour long drives were tantrum free and thankfully, uneventful. They enjoyed every moment and I can see their growth. The first step of course is being completely prepared. Download our checklist of everything you will need for your road trip.
No Preparation for Distractions
The magic of something new fades pretty quickly these days. This trip was the first time I did not buy any little toys before leaving to shine in front of the eyes.
Instead, every second or third stop we got the kids candy/toys which served as both souvenirs and distractions. The car ride was spent exploring new vistas with their new play things. We even bought the kids tiny bags that they cherished carrying around with them.
Make The Itinerary An Activity
We kept the kids pretty much in suspense the whole trip. So when leaving we told them of all the sights we would see in St. Louis. At St. Louis, we told them all the fun things planned for them in Colorado. In essence, the discussion of the destination becomes an activity in itself. This had a two pronged effect.
- They got super excited and asked questions along the way.
- They got involved in the planning on the way.
Food/Potty Breaks at Scenic Routes
You may be surprised how happy kids get seeing beautiful spots and exploring a lovely place even in the middle of no where. And they if they are kids like mine who love posing, they get a kick out of memorable clicks !
Breaks Every 2-4 Hours
Even if the kids are sitting and not asking to go to potty, take a break. It gives them a chance to stretch their legs, have some fun running around while breaks the monotony of the ride. It is a preemptive strike against boredom!
Stay Screen Free For Longer Periods
The temptation to keep the kids pacified aside, ensure to stay screen free for long periods of time. Gadgets can be used when you need to catch a nap or the kids truly get antsy.
- Classic games are I Spy, License Plate, I’m Going on a Picnic, What Am I Thinking of.
- Try to work learning into road-trip games. I love making games up on the fly!
- Another favorite is making robots, letters from things at the table at the restaurants.
Download New Shows/Apps On The Go
Every spot that had free Wifi got utilized to give the kids hope for exciting new fun to come! Make sure to keep their Most Loved app/show a secret for when you hit a traffic jam !
CDs Of The Kids’ Favorite Shows/Movies
This tip is for those who have a movie player installed in the car. Target has a great selection of $5 movies. Also, since we were only going to be gone 2 weeks, we borrowed a lot of CDs of the kids’ favorite shows/movies from the local library. With the two week return policy it was a God sent. Also, Redbox is a great option with it’s many locations.
This trip, I made sure to keep snacks they love but haven’t had in a long time and have been banned at home. They relished the fact that they could enjoy rare treats on the mini vacation. A Happy Meal which is a rare treat in our home was a great way to appease them.
Include Strangers Into the Trip
My kids and I love people watching and talking to strangers. Strangers are after all friends we haven’t met yet! Simple conversations lead to enriched experiences. Also, the kids I believe learn to accept different people and their view points. Remember to stay safe though.
- Ensure the little ones know not to talk about your home, routine life or destination.
- Write the kids’ name, address and phone number and keep them in their pockets.
Bonus Mindset Trip –
As I worried about how they would do on the trip after our first 4 hours of drive, my husband responded. ” Kids are resilient. Remember that all year round, your life revolves around them. If they do get antsy or cranky, it’s okay. It’s a phase and it shall pass. They will learn a lot from the experience. ” And they did !!!
Have you taken a road trip? What would you add to our complete list of items to take on your trip ? What are your tips for keep the trip comfortable and tantrum free?