Don't those look like the most thrilled faces ever???
Combine the crazy cost of gas along with potentially cranky, contained kids and a roadtrip doesn't sound like much fun. Our family certainly doesn't avoid the pitfalls of family travel (3 kids strapped into a vehicle???) but we've figured out a few tricks to make our journeys a little less cumbersome (without the need for earplugs!).
1. Avoid the sugar rush.
It goes without saying but loading up kids on junk and them strapping them into a car is a disaster from the getgo. Pack healthy snacks for the trip and keep everyone hydrated.
2. Bring the portable potty.
This goes with hydration – you're gonna have to stop so make it easy. There just won't be a clean toliet available in time for a newly potty trained kid so bring it along. Another momstown mom gave me the tip to line it with a plastic bag – it helps manage the YUCK factor if someone needs to, well, poop.
3. Embrace the DVD player/Tablet.
We fought this and said "kids need to learn to enjoy the drive", "they can listen to the radio" and "it's too much screen time". There's a time and place and a long car trip IS the place for a movie – keeps kids quiet, adults can converse, think and drive better with happy kids.
4. Adult in the back.
If you have space in a minivan this is a great tactic if you have small kids. An adult in the back helps with passing snacks, hold a baby's hand and play peekaboo.
5. Plan for diversions
If it's normally a 3 hour drive – plan for 5. This has been an adjustment for us as we used to like to hustle between Point A and Point B – but now we stop in random places for pee breaks, discovered new truck stops and playgrounds and I've nursed in many a parking lot. Plan for the delay and it can be fun – make a day out of traveling.
6. Tote the stuff!
Pack a "car bag" with crayons, new colouring books, favourite toys – anything to keep kids busy. We have a nifty lap table for car trips for the kids which is handy too.
7. Car games & Songs
We play loads of Eye Spy, Alphabet games and sing silly songs. It's kinda retro but I have great memories of these games from my childhood so we keep ourselves busy with these too.
8. Keep patient.
Toughest task when someone asks "are we there yet?" AGAIN. Plan for it to take you 50% longer than you thought (can't plan for all those potty breaks!). Just breathe and think about the destination, the fun you'll have and the glass of wine waiting for you!