Car Travel

Something we don’t touch upon that often is car travel… maybe it’s because it’s not necessarily my favorite way to travel, maybe it’s because it doesn’t get me to places out of my comfort zone or maybe it’s because car travel is hard. Hard? You may ask. Yes – hard. Two years ago we went on our first major car trip with our then just barely three year old and five month old.

We drove to South Dakota. The destination – the Black Hills and beyond. The expected travel time? 11 hours. The actual travel time? 14+ hours. The last two were with a screaming 5-month old in the back seat. You see, driving in the car wasn’t his favorite thing ever. In fact, I think if he could avoid the car it would have been his preference. So being stuck in the car for 14+ hours was not ideal. We didn’t drive “straight through”, we took several breaks for food, stretching, feeding the baby and sightseeing. Even with those stops, it was too much for them. Our older son was happy to have a movie on as long as he got to pick – which we were more than happy to accommodate – but even he couldn’t seem to time his potty breaks with everyone else so we ended up making quite a few extra stops.

Well, even if it isn’t my favorite way to travel we have another trip coming up in the next couple of weeks where we get to drive to South Dakota for another family reunion. The boys are older, they are more excited for the trip and yet I know 2 hours in we will be hearing “are we there yet”… A few things we will be doing to help mitigate the pain of being stuck in the car for a day as we drive to the first stop:

1. Portable DVD player – they’re both old enough to enjoy the distraction of a movie.

2. Snacks – I don’t usually let my kids eat in the car but having a couple of snacks to keep them going when we aren’t quite ready for a stop will be worth it.

3. Family and two cars – the boys will be able to switch vehicles or have people rotate into the car they are mainly stationed in so they can have different company and keep the scenery fresh.

4. An open mind – I know that if Mapquest or Google Maps tell me that it’s going to take 9 hours, with kids I’ll expect 12. Going in with an open mind will help me feel good about getting there in 11 hours thinking I beat my expectation.

5. Plenty of music – my kids love to sing and I do too, that will keep us busy.

6. I will still pack light – Less is Less!! But they will have a few of their favorite toys with us – superheros, Leapster 2, and cars – to keep them entertained.

If we pass a park we might stop when before – just the two of us – we wouldn’t think of such a thing, wanting to get to the destination. With kids you have to be flexible, be willing to take a slower path and take the breaks that they need. Being stuck in a car seat is hot and can be boring – not just for the kids! It’s good to get out, stretch, have a minute to run around and then get on your way again. Be sure to factor in these extra stops and enjoy the time with your kids – it’s the time together, not the ultimate destination that is the most important part of your travel experience. It’s the experience together!! Whether in the car or in the air… famvoyage!!

This entry was posted in Car Travel, Travel, Travling with Kids by Heather. Bookmark the permalink.

About Heather

We love traveling with our kids. People have said, and I'm sure you've heard it before, once you have kids you can kiss traveling goodbye. There is no reason to do that! Traveling with kids can be the most rewarding experience. Experiencing different cultures, food and rituals as a family can bring you together, provide a learning experience and be a lot of fun.

2 thoughts on “Car Travel

  1. We have done many car trips to see family in Omaha, NE. It’s an 8.5-9 hour ride normally, but with children we are happy if we make it in 10-10.5. We have tried leaving at various times of the day to see if it helps our littlest travelers. Our current favorite is to leave at 4 or 5 in the morning. The kids will wake up and stay up. After 30-45 mins of travel I will give them snack cups with dry cereal. We will have our first break for breakfast. Often we will stop and run around and then pick up breakfast to-go. Eating in the car is a distraction and will easily take another 30 mins to get through. We will make one more stop to run before stopping for lunch. Our general rule is that if the youngest is sleeping we drive fast (speed limit of course) and drive hard. We try to get as many miles under us when naps are happening. We allow movies to be played constantly as who wants to sit completely restrained in a car for hours. This movies help to make our boys happy. Also, with one now out of diapers we are quickly learning to have a travel potty. The last nice thing about leaving early in the morning is that we arrive at our destination hours before bedtime so the boys can eat dinner, play, and get used to their new surroundings before having to go to bed in an unfamiliar place. We learned these tricks the hard way. And if the kids cry and scream? Well, they will eventually stop and it is a form of exercise so it will tire them out as well. :) Best of luck on your road trip.

    • Thanks Kyle!! It was great to see you at the mall the other day! We’re hoping to get through our car trip without too much trauma! I’m glad that we’ll have aunts, uncles and grandma and grandpa to help keep them busy too! Eating in the car makes me nervous and I don’t usually let them but for long car rides, I agree it’s a good distraction. Thanks for your tips!!

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