Colin and Owen were born travelers. Up until several years ago, we lived in Wisconsin and traveled frequently to New York, by car, for holidays and summer vacation. Being that it was a 14-hour drive, I had to have many tricks up my sleeve to keep them content, comfortable, and calm. Here are my best 5 tips for traveling with kids by car.
Adjust travel plans to accommodate your child’s sleep schedule.
Leave for your trip at the beginning of nap-time or bedtime (that might mean driving at night if you are up for it!). Bring along any special bedtime music, blankets, and stuffed animals. That way, your child’s routine stays consistent and he isn’t overtired or cranky upon your arrival destination.
Bring along car-friendly activities.
To me, car-friendly activities are books, coloring books, small pads of paper with washable markers, and travel games. I tend to avoid bringing many toys and items with small pieces (but that could be because knowing my boys, they will just end up on the floor).
Before traveling, I often visit a dollar store and load up on new coloring books, pads of paper, and mini markers with super heroes on them. The difference a fresh coloring book can make is amazing!
The boys also enjoy audio books and music that they can sing-a-long with. Additionally, I have no qualms about using a car DVD player (having a new movie always helps too!).
Let your child make a “travel pack.”
A travel pack is simply a back pack that your child gets to fill with items that he wants to bring along. Owen chose to bring several super hero guys, a small car, and a train. Once in the car, he placed it near his car seat so that he could access it himself.
Stop for breaks often.
Though your trip might take a little longer, it is helpful to make frequent stops during the day to allow your child to burn off their energy. I keep a soccer ball and a blanket in the back of the car for just these occasions.
When the boys were babies, I discovered that stopping often just to give them snuggles and hugs was very important. They became lonely strapped in their car-seats and needed human interaction.
Pack healthy snacks.
Long car trips are often associated with fast food, gas station snacks, and candy. This type of junk food can destroy a child’s mood and even make him feel sick (yes, I’ve learned this the hard way!). Cheese sticks, sandwiches, apple slices, cereals, crackers and peanut butter, raisins, and squeezable yogurt are great alternatives that will save you money and help everyone feel their best. I let the boys keep a water bottle in the cup holders near their seats.
Traveling with kids by car doesn’t have to be a dreaded experience. With some thoughtful preparation and some special activities, it can actually be fun!
What are your tips for traveling by car with kids?