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Driving over 1000 miles with a 4 and 5 year old

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Our family is relocating across the country in 2 weeks. We thought about getting a DVD player and then nixed the idea because it's just an added expense (plus I'm not super keen on having them glued to a screen for 2-3 days straight). Are we nuts?

My ideas are: books, paper, coloring crayons (with a large book or tray), snacks, cars, small toys, and um... that's it.
I've read it's a good idea to wrap up tiny things that they can open every so often. We'll also be stopping here and there.

Any ideas are appreciated!
post #2 of 16
We did a slightly longer trip last month with our almost 8 year old and 3 year old.

We do have a portable dvd player so we did use that at times. I hit the dollar section at Target and found some activity books for each of their levels. We took toys, books, coloring stuff and snacks. If I was going to do it again, I'd probably get some books on tape/cd for them too.
post #3 of 16
do they like travelling?

have you travelled with them before? even for like 5 to 6 hours stretches?

go by their personality.

for instance my dd LOOOOOOOOOOOVES travelling. i have packed toys for her but it was unnecessary. even at 19 months old on a 12 hour journey. of course i had to sing new verses for 'when youre happy and you know it clap your hands' for an hour straight.

what is the personality of your children?

i think the key is breaks. stops to let them out to run around and explore. to point out things as you pass them.

the small toys are a great idea - however that's a lot of toys to pack.

music for family singalongs.

the thing is i think just going cross country is an experience by itself. no matter what you do the journey itself will be fabulous. i always recall everyone talking about their childhood trips with nostalgia.

so a lot of the magic depends on you. the games you play. the 'things' they have to do in the car. sure pack some stuff. whatever they like - like colouring books, playdough or whatever their interests are. books if they dont get car sick.

but i am with you. no dvds. takes the magic out of the journey i would say. but that's just me.
post #4 of 16
Personally I would go with the DVD player in addition to the other stuff. Mainly because I know my kids do get car sick and sitting and colouring (looking down) would only make them sicker. I think watching the DVD would probably help.
post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreaming View Post
Our family is relocating across the country in 2 weeks. We thought about getting a DVD player and then nixed the idea because it's just an added expense (plus I'm not super keen on having them glued to a screen for 2-3 days straight). Are we nuts?

My ideas are: books, paper, coloring crayons (with a large book or tray), snacks, cars, small toys, and um... that's it.
I've read it's a good idea to wrap up tiny things that they can open every so often. We'll also be stopping here and there.

Any ideas are appreciated!
You are not nuts!

I took my two by myself last year from WI to CO (about 1000 mi each way) - without a dvd player and had no problems - although by hour 10 in the car, when they were getting antsy, I sort of wished I had something they could zone out too - but we made do without just fine.

We made sure we stopped every couple of hours to stretch/run around/go to the bathroom etc. I did wrap little gifts that they got to open every so often - it was a big hit. In addition to the things you have listed, we did lacing cards, those velvet posters w/markers, road trip bingo, the ABC game - we also made up games like counting all of the red semi trucks you could see. I didn't have any books on tape - but I did have a bunch of CD's of "their" music to listen to, which we ended up listening to almost exclusively.

Next week, we're embarking on a trip to CA - we did get a DVD player because it's going to be a lot more time in the car - 6 days of driving on our 10 day vacation- we'll be driving for over 5000 miles when this trip is said and done - the dvd player will give us all a much needed distraction from time to time I think.

FWIW - my kids were almost 4 and just turned 5 when I took them last year.
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thank you for all the great ideas!
It turns out that DH ordered a DVD player yesterday (found a good deal on Amazon), so I guess we will have one after all .
The longest car ride my kids have ever been on is just under 3 hours, so 19 hours of driving will possibly present a challenge. We'll just do our best.
post #7 of 16
We had success with the DVD player, and timing. We would stop at a hotel with a pool each evening, eat dinner and swim. Then in the morning we would eat breakfast, swim, and then get in the car. That way they already had some crazies out in the morning. Mid-morning snacks and naptime gave us a good 3-4 hours. Then, stop for a picnic lunch and some more running. Then back in the car for another 3-4 hours.

Good luck, mama!
post #8 of 16
We drove 1200 miles w/ our 2.5 y/o and no dvd player. Just lots of music, books, snacks, and stops. It really wasn't bad!
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by D&S Mom View Post
Personally I would go with the DVD player in addition to the other stuff. Mainly because I know my kids do get car sick and sitting and colouring (looking down) would only make them sicker. I think watching the DVD would probably help.
Yeah that.

You could always buy it, don't take it out of the box, tape the receipt to it and then return it (as long as you buy from someplace that will allow returns at any store) if you don't use it. (and don't tell the kids)

But having done at lot of travelling with 3 young children? Sometimes it's nice to have something that won't roll off the lap table, can't be used to destroy a window, and will be a change of pace.

I don't romanticize travel in Ye Goode Olde Days before electronic entertainment options on cross country travel. I moved back and forth with my family about 11 times during my childhood, and while it IS good to require non-screen time, I would have done anything for something to do when I was sick of coloring, magnetic games, ect.
post #10 of 16
I've traveled from Louisiana to Washington, DC with my 2, almost 3 year old. No DVD player (although it would have been nice to have one). He did fine, just brought some toys and colors. Then we traveled to Miami when he was 4. He loves, loves to travel, though, so that may be it.
post #11 of 16
Audiobooks and music you ALL like can also help.
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by annethcz View Post
Audiobooks and music you ALL like can also help.
I absolutely agree with you on the music. I'll have to make a list of music so I remember not to pack it all.
post #13 of 16
We have traveled a lot - within less than a year, the we've been to 29 different states (including the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf Coast, and the Atlantic, in less than a month). We like to travel. Our three year old calls our vehicle, "home."

There are some good suggestions above. I would add/emphasize:

1. Stop frequently. If you're in AAA, get the books for the states you're going through. If not, plan out your route and then share it with friends/family and ask for suggestions for stops (long and short) along your route.

We usually stop every 2-3 hours, for 20 minutes to 2-3 hours depending on what we're stopping at (usually more like an hour or less). If you have a Garmin or other GPS type you can find parks to play in (nice stop!). If it's rainy, then we stop at Target or shopping malls and get out and move around in there, if there isn't a "point of interest" we want to stop at.

There are LOTS of free/low cost places to stop and visit - parks, zoos, etc. (St. Louis's zoo is free, for instance), too if cost is an issue. We have a National Park Pass and a membership in a museum which gets us in free at many other museums around the country. University campuses often have free museums/exhibits, too.

2. We have a travel case for crayons, and bring lots of coloring books and paper. We also bring lots of picture books (the Richard Scary books have lots of details to look at, for instance).

3. Toys - stuffed animals, small figurines which can be used for small level role playing. We have two small Doodle-pads that the girls use to draw on, too. We also have a small "Duplo" board and bring a box of duplos that they can build structures on while we're driving. We have a small travel case of Mr. Potato Head & Friends that they like to play with, too.

4. We bring a box of snacks for the road (pretzels etc.) and a cooler with drinks/fruit/veggies/string cheese etc.

Basically I just rotate through the toys etc. A typical day traveling for us would probably be:
Load up, choose toys.
Snack.
Stop/stretch/run around.
Load up, choose different toys.
Switch toys.
Meal (stop/stretch/run around).
Load up, choose toys.
Switch toys.
Stop/stretch/run around.
Snack.
New toys.
Arrive at destination.

We do have a DVD player, but sometimes we go 3-4 days without watching anything; rainy dismal days, sometimes we go through two Pixar movies.

A GREAT game to play -- we call it the "horse game." Each kid gets a side of the road and you count horses on your side (parents help with this). Whoever has the most horses next time the vehicle stops, wins. And you start over again when you start driving again. If you're in a more urban area I suppose you could count churches or something like that, instead.
post #14 of 16
We regularly drive from CO to MD, about 1500 miles, and we've done it straight through as well as over a few days. My girls are 4 and 6, 3 and 5 last time we went east. My kids are always happy with mostly crayons, markers (window markers too so they can draw on the car windows), stickers galore, some new books, and a few trinkets that they would not normally have (like My Little Ponies, Polly Pockets, Littlest Pet Shop, etc.). I also get new music for them, anything that would drive DH and I crazy is sure to make them happy. I agree with PP who suggested detailed books with a lot to look at. Animalia was a big hit with the girls. We did get my oldest a leapster to play on the way. DH bought a DVD player for himself and although the girls knew that was an option for them, they never asked to watch anything. Generally we made a travel bag for each of them, full of new stuff and new materials. They thought it was Easter LOL, with the added benefit of them each having a bag to keep all their stuff in, which kept the car clutter to a minimum (a pet peeve of mine!)
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Wow! These are all really really WONDERFUL ideas!
I'm taking notes and will definitely be packing a lot of the things mentioned here.
Thanks SO very much!
post #16 of 16
My kiddos have been driving all over the country for most of their lives and we don't do a DVD player. We are all about books on tape (cd/mp3) and magna doodles. And the ABC game.
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