Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tips for Roadtrips with Young Children

Spring break is coming up. I'm so excited to be able to sleep in every morning. My brother and his family are going to be driving 14 hours to spend their Spring break with us next week. They have decided to drive through the night so their kids sleep. That method does not work for my husband and I. We need our sleep.
Long car trips can be difficult if you are traveling with small children. I have 4 children 8 years old and younger and have experience with long road trips (14-24 hours) with my children. Here are a few of my suggestions when traveling with young children.
· Snacks: Pack plenty of snacks that are easily passed around and eaten in the car or plane. With pre-sliced apples and baby carrots, there is no need to just eat junk food either. You might want to purchase special treats that the kids have never had before. Make sure to pack paper towels and hand wipes.

· Eat meals at parks or places that have children’s play areas. Make sure you a lot time for the kids to run around and play. They need to get their energy out.

· Movies: I know something is lost when the trip is spent watching movies; seeing the scenery, enjoying the journey, fighting kids, questions like “are we there yet”. But, having a DVD player in the car or a personal DVD player can make the trip go faster for the kids. Plus when they ask “how much longer” you can put it in their terms “When Shrek is over” or “by the time you watch 2 more movies we’ll be there”.

· Music: Bring along music that your children like too. We love rocking to vegetales.

· Activities/games/toys: Search and find books are great for older children. Coloring books are also good and a clipboard provides a good hard surface for them to write on in their laps. Car bingo is also a fun one. I have a friend who buys little $1 toys and wraps them up and every couple of hours she gives the kids a toy to unwrap.

· Plan for the potty breaks. I have a daughter who refuses to use public bathrooms if there is any sort of smell or mess in them. As you can imagine it makes it hard to find a gas station with a clean enough restroom. So, I bring sanitizing wipes and maybe air freshener with me to make the bathroom acceptable to her. You could also pack a child’s portable potty with you too.

· If you have time, enjoy the journey. Stop at tourist places along the way and see what small towns and cities have to offer.

· Drive during your child’s sleep time. If you have a child who can sleep in the car then consider driving at night or during nap times. My sister has 6 children so she and her husband choose to drive through the night because there are fewer potty breaks, arguing, and traffic. I have tried this method and the kids do travel better but it was misery for my husband and I. We do not drink caffeine so it was hard for us to stay awake. However, if you are a good night driver it might be a good method for you.

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