I grew up in a city three and a half hours from the nearest airport, so long road trips were pretty standard for my Bi-lingual driving school family growing up. Now that I have children of my own, we alternate flying across the country to visit my in-laws and driving to Mexico to visit my family.
We recently made the long trip back from Mexico, where we had been visiting for a few weeks. While we were there, I was visiting a friend who mentioned that she was about to take her children (ages 2 and 9 months) on a 13-hour road trip, and she was feeling nervous about it.
Since summer is the travel season, I thought I’d share a few things that have worked well for our family. All of this has served us well both on our long flights and on our long trips with babies and young children.
1.All the sandwiches.
If I’m totally honest, snacking Bi-lingual driving school me crazy because there’s nothing worse for me than taking the time to prepare a meal for my kids and then making them not eat it because they’ve been snacking all day. BUT. On trips? Snacks forever! We pack a huge bag and strategically distribute food throughout the trip. Bonus points for little things I can give one at a time, like raisins or cheerios (these are also great to hide in a fist and have your child guess which one it’s in – anything to prolong the feeding process and keep them entertained! )
2.Books (of course).
I must admit now that I keep some of the Sol Book Box books so I can check them out just before a trip when I know we are going to leave town. I also love the idea of stopping by the library to buy a stack of new books for us right before we left (I think that happened like once – we usually only bring books from home, but it’s a great idea in theory).
3.Save the electronics for last.
This is probably my best advice and the one I shared with my friend: save the screens for last! It seems like you could just pull out the iPad and the kids would tune out and be quiet, but in my experience the opposite is true: the screens wind them up more often, or they lose interest and get cranky. So we do stories, snacks, singing, and well, pretty much everything else first, and we try to save electronic devices for the last part of our trip (when everyone is tired and/or screaming)..
4.Coloring without a mess.
If you haven’t been introduced to Water Wow! books, they are the best there is! My kids will happily entertain themselves with them for much longer than I would have thought possible, and if they spill no one freaks out because it’s just water. We also recently tested this invisible ink marker coloring book, and we really liked it too (not as much as Water Wow! If I’m honest because the marker has a strong smell, but it entertained my three-year-old for a good 45 minutes into our trip).
5.RUN during stops.
When our oldest was a baby, I remember going on vacation with some friends who, at each stop, made their children run races with each other for 5 minutes. I adopted that one right away, and now my preschooler jumps like a bunny, gallops like a horse, or chases me around the car 10 times at all of our stops too.