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Road trip?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

Give me your best tips for long road trips with the kids. I haven't been driving that long, and our longest trip has been about three straight hours of driving, each way (maybe a little more on the return trip). This summer, we're going to be doing over 1,000 miles (round trip), camping along the way. We have 3-4 days to get where we're going, and 2-3 days to get back. We'll be spending the intervening time at a cabin with my in-laws. We're taking all four kids. So, we're going to have a very full van (clothes, etc. for six people, plus recreational items - books, games, art supplies, etc., and camping gear).

 

I'll probably try a couple books on CD. The kids will have their art supplies, and we'll have music. I'll probably throw in some of my car and truck tally sheets. But....any other suggestions?

post #2 of 20

Stop as much as possible.  We Road trip often and I love to stop at random places.  If we're in a time crunch we'll pull over and run around the car acting crazy every couple of hours.

 

Also at the end of every night we do a park if we're near one.  Or if we're staying in a hotel I throw their butts in the pool. 

 

DH is taking the girls to his families this summer and they're going to drive as well.  He says music, random car stops and the car run arounds saved him last time. 

 

Which reminds me.  Three weeks without anyone in the house!!!!!  So excited for myself right now.

 

 

post #3 of 20

Different Strokes for Different folks.  We have driven 1,000s of miles (my car is 3 and I have 95,000 miles on it) and we rarely make unplanned stops.  We love books on tape and random sightings ex: on our trips to AZ, the first person to see a cactus gets $.25 (started when the kids were tiny and having a whole $.25 to themselves was huge).  So when we drove all over SD and WY, buffalo sightings earned $25 (elk and antelope are plentiful where we live). 

post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 34me View Post

Different Strokes for Different folks.  We have driven 1,000s of miles (my car is 3 and I have 95,000 miles on it) and we rarely make unplanned stops.  We love books on tape and random sightings ex: on our trips to AZ, the first person to see a cactus gets $.25 (started when the kids were tiny and having a whole $.25 to themselves was huge).  So when we drove all over SD and WY, buffalo sightings earned $25 (elk and antelope are plentiful where we live). 



Ooh...a small cash award would probably go over really well with ds2. Maybe I'll try something like that. Mind you, I can already hear the, "I was just going to say that - I saw it when he/she did, but I had to swallow - NOT FAIR!!"....

 

 

post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post

Stop as much as possible.  We Road trip often and I love to stop at random places.  If we're in a time crunch we'll pull over and run around the car acting crazy every couple of hours.

 

Also at the end of every night we do a park if we're near one.  Or if we're staying in a hotel I throw their butts in the pool. 

 

DH is taking the girls to his families this summer and they're going to drive as well.  He says music, random car stops and the car run arounds saved him last time. 

 

Which reminds me.  Three weeks without anyone in the house!!!!!  So excited for myself right now.

 

 



No pools. We're only going to be tent camping while on our way there and back. We may get a swim at a lake or two, but that's about it.

We tend to make random stops, anyway. I do all the driving, and my muscles really don't like it. I need to stop and stretch my arms and legs fairly regularly. Since we have to stop, anyway, we usually let everyone hop out and run around a little. DH doesn't love it, because if everyone gets out, it takes a while to round us all back up, but he knows it's necessary. It does help.

post #6 of 20

For road trips with my 4 y/o DD I love anything that she can do by herself. I have very much love for Vtech right now for their laptops and Vreader. They're educational, fun, and keep her occupied. There's only so much "I spy" I can handle! LOL.

 

Another thing that keeps her entertained is listening to music, even my music. She'll sing and dance, and want to know the name of every song, and who's singing it. I like to think of it as musical education. She'll say: "That's Queen mama! I remember that song!" or I'll say: "Can you say System of a Down... System of a Dooowwwn." Last trip we took, she fell in love with the song "She don't know she's beautiful." Too bad country songs have such bad grammar... LOL.


Edited by MamaInTheDesert - 4/7/12 at 8:47am
post #7 of 20

My one piece of advice would be to plan everything out ahead of time, especially stops.  If your youngest takes naps, plan to be in the car, during the time when she would be napping.  There is nothing worse than planning to stop or everyone being hungry and wanting to stop for lunch 10 minutes after a toddler falls asleep.   For example, say you leave at 8 AM.  Plan to stop someplace about 3 hours later (around 11 AM) for a park/museum/lunch whatever and then get back in the car at 1:00 right when you toddler is ready to nap, and go from say 1-3:30  PM.  Then stop for a quick potty/run around break...then another 2 hours before stopping for  dinner/camping for the night.  I find it really helpful to already have mapped out interesting museums/parks at good stopping points in your trip rather than just trying to find someplace while on he road.

post #8 of 20

Love taking road trips. The things that I've found to help keep kids busy were books on CD, sing alongs, favorite music CDs. Bring pipe cleaners to use as "art supplies". I bought kiddie binoculars for a trip once, and they went over well. Honestly, I have found that the less I plan for them to "do", the less they expect me to entertain them.  I encourage books in the car, but nobody gets car sick, so it can work.

 

I suggest packing a cooler and a dry goods box. Eat your lunches at rest stops, so the kids can move about, and you'll save money as a bonus.

post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Pajama View Post

Love taking road trips. The things that I've found to help keep kids busy were books on CD, sing alongs, favorite music CDs. Bring pipe cleaners to use as "art supplies". I bought kiddie binoculars for a trip once, and they went over well. Honestly, I have found that the less I plan for them to "do", the less they expect me to entertain them.  I encourage books in the car, but nobody gets car sick, so it can work.

 

I suggest packing a cooler and a dry goods box. Eat your lunches at rest stops, so the kids can move about, and you'll save money as a bonus.



We'll have a cooler and food, since we're camping along the way. We'll definitely eat at least some of our lunches (and maybe even breakfasts) at rest stops along the way.

 

I can't plan around dd2's nap schedule, because she doesn't have one. Her naps range from 0-2 per day (usually 1, but there are exceptions). They range from 10 minutes to 2.5 hours in length. They can start anywhere from 11:00 am (rare, but it happens) to 6:00 pm (not as rare, but not common, either - thankfully). She's very challenging on the sleep front.

post #10 of 20

There are some travel games that my kids like:

Scavenger Hunt for Kids Cards was one that worked really well. It's theoretically supposed to be competitive but my kids decided they'd rather not do it competitively.

 

There are some other activity books intended for the car that work well.

 

My kids like having a map or an atlas as well, just in terms of being able to follow along where we're going.

 

Books on CD are great as it keeps everyone interested.

 

Find towns/places with playgrounds and plan to have breaks there. It really gives the kids a chance to work off some energy.

 

Make sure you have water bottles and some snacks accessible.

 

You might consider bringing a little potty along for your 3 year old (if she's potty training/trained). How rural is the route going to be? If there are going to be long stretches between towns (i.e. between bathrooms), teach your girls how to squat and pee outdoors. (We had a rather unfortunate incident with dd on our recent cross-country ski adventure where she ended up peeing all over her pants.)

post #11 of 20

When we go on long trips we get doughnuts from the store and I let my dd pick out soda or a bottle of juice and a bag of chips, these are not things we normally get so they are really special and are good for some extra fun.  We stop at small cities with parks and do some running around, eat at fast food restraunts, and stop randomly when it looks like fun.  My dd brings books, toys, art stuff, books on tape and cd, music, a portable dvd player, and movies. 

post #12 of 20

My guy is only 8 mo, so I don't have first hand experience, but I think these little I Spy toys are cool. These too.

post #13 of 20

Last summer we drove 3 days each way (chicago to Portland) with a 2 year old and a 10 month old. Biggest helps were; having a car potty for when there was no real potty close by. Bringing the tricycle in the car, 2 y/o rode it at nearly every rest stop, kept him moving a lot, helped him move faster, burn more engery is less time, and made going places he didn't want to FUN. NEW Toys, not a lot, but a few that was when things get rough you pull out a cool new motorcycle from the toy bag and get another hour of driving. TONS of snacks! :)  We also had a DVD player as total back up and I think in the 6 days in the car we used it 3 short times when one of them was totally melting down. Honestly the easist chunks where when we drove at night the boys would just sleep. We left at night and did two other night chunks, arriving at hotels around 1 in the morning so the adults could get a few quaility hours of sleep. 

post #14 of 20

If the weather permits, stop at city and state (do you have provincial?) parks (playgrounds and picnic areas) for meals.  If you're lucky, the playground will be near the picnic area and you can set up a meal. You can set up a meal without a picnic area, of course, I just prefer to have hot meals on the road (quesadillas, usually) and like to have a bucket of water and a table on hand if I turn on a camp stove.  If time permits, we go for a short walk or hike to expend some more energy after we eat.

 

If school is not in session, you can often stop at elementary school playgrounds for a play break.  In my experience in the midwest US, a deputy police officer will stop by before too long, but after we've explained our presence (long trip, child in need of free play, not letting the dog urinate/poop on grounds), we've been welcome to stay as long as we like.

post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 

hmm...no room for a tricycle (we have a minivan, but there will be six of us inside, plus our camping gear - no roof racks), which is too bad. I like the idea of some new toys - maybe I'll pick up one or two each for the little ones. DS1 is 19, and only needs his iPod, headphones, sketchpad and a couple of books to keep himself occupied.

 

Lots of stops seem to be the key, based on the comments here. DH and I both hate stopping too much (for different reasons - he just wants to go - go - go, while I don't want to get going again after a stop), but we can force ourselves. lol

 

post #16 of 20

i have an only. for us the best thing for a great road trip, even at 18 months - driving for 17 hours straight - has been having a fun cousin along. 

 

i would say seating might help.

 

but really just the experience will be fabulous.

 

get absolutely new toys. one year i got dd different sorts of pens and different boxes with different lids and different bottle with different lids. that kept her occupied the WHOLE 12 hours trying to figure them out. i think she was 18 months to 2 years old. 

post #17 of 20

For the older kids, how about some games like MadLibs, Banagrams (there is a book of them), and trivia books.

 

You can make your own "treasure hunt".  Fill a jar (plastic or glass, clear) about 2/3 full of rice.  Put small objects in as well, put on the lid, then shake it up and they will become hidden.  Have the kids roll it around and find the objects.  For multiple kids, you might do one each and swap them off.  They are very inexpensive to make.  (A hint, though... write down what you put in each because it's easy to forget what you've put in).  If you have kids that might get the bright idea to open the jar in the car (and get rice everywhere), glue the lid on.

 

We also like to take our "Dinner Games".  Some don't apply away from the table, but most of the cards can be adapted for travel.  We also like "Kid Talk" (conversation cards).  You can google for either of these and also, at amazon get a ton more ideas (some of which you can find free online or make your own).  Hope you have a fun trip!

post #18 of 20

Books on CD are key in my family when we are on a road trip. My big kids will NOT sleep in the car. And they get stabby if not actively engaged in something. Some books that the whole family has enjoyed: Peter and the Starcatchers, the Fudge series by Judy Blume, Dragon Rider.

 

I also get treats for them that I don't normally give them. Funky flavored bubble gum, jolly ranchers, starbursts, etc. I take boxes of snacks like graham bunnies and cheddar bunnies and divide them up in to individual baggies and make a big basket of them that I keep in the middle of the kids. They are allowed to choose snacks throughout the ride and they keep track of what they've had so if there are only four baggies of graham bunnies, they know if they've had one, they don't get another one.

 

Also check along your route and see if there are any interesting places along the way to stop. One year when we were coming back from the beach, we stopped in New Bern NC, to visit the pharmacy where Pepsi was created. The kids got a big kick out of that. The whole stop took about an hour but it was something for them to look forward to.

post #19 of 20

I've done 'road trips' with DS 11 since he was a newborn.  In fact we are planning almost 3k miles in under a week for the middle of May.  He has a portable DVD player, laptop, schoolwork (homeschool has to happen I'm afraid), books, and just chillin in the backseat.  He is a good traveler.  We stop every 2-4 hrs to pee but that's about it.  I can do almost 1k miles a day if I need to, 750 is my comfort level though.  (750 is about 10 hrs of straight driving and almost 12 hrs total in the car, allowing for stops and meals)

 

If you are doing 1k round trip that's 500 each way??  That's less than a day of driving for me.  Honestly, I would have the car packed up the night before, we would be leaving early in the am (before morning rush hour) and driving right to the destination, stopping for lunch somewhere.

 

 

 

 

post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zebra15 View Post

 

If you are doing 1k round trip that's 500 each way??  That's less than a day of driving for me.  Honestly, I would have the car packed up the night before, we would be leaving early in the am (before morning rush hour) and driving right to the destination, stopping for lunch somewhere.

 



The longest entire trip I've ever done was about 500 miles, and that almost did me in (the single biggest chunk was the drive home, as we stopped overnight on the way to our destination). I hate driving - I hate everything about driving. But, I'm also the only one in the family who can do it, and a big part of why I ever got my license was to enable our family to go on vacations. So, I'll do it.

 

If I drove right to the destination, I'd miss the camping, which is most of what I'm looking forward to. My family would also spend about the next three days dealing with a sore, pissed off, tired, cranky mom. Driving is hell.

 

This is, by far, the biggest trip I've ever tackled. We'll also be driving around some at our destination, but that shouldn't be too intense...I hope. Our first leg is about 3 or 3.5 hours, which is about as much as I've ever driven in one go. The other 2-3 days of that leg will be longer, though.

 

Hmm....I need to finalize my route, too. The one I really want to take (to hit a particular couple spots along the way, and visit my cousin) is a bit longer than I thought.

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