Top Family Car Trip Tips
In January, a lot of people thought I was nuts when I packed up the car with the kids and took off for a week long road trip. The kids and I drove through Alabama, met Grandma in Atlanta, travelled with her around the gorgeous state of Georgia, and then I drove us back. We stopped a lot of fun places like the Georgia Aquarium, the tree lined Savannah, and the Sea Turtle Center, but half the adventure was the road trip itself.
We did a lot of different things to keep busy during our trip and they are included below. Aside from a couple of rough moments, it was a fun trip. Yes, fun. Even the last leg that took 11 hours.
1. Pack lots of things to do
Way more than you think you need. Having new toys, or at least ones they haven't played with in a while, is helpful in keeping them engaged. Make, buy, borrow.
2. Pack things that meet the current interests of your child.
My kids love imaginary play. Finger puppets and duplos fit well with their play preferences. If your child likes to draw or do fine motor activities - pack lots of those. If they like to sing and dance, pack instruments and make a movement songs playlist. This might seem obvious, but I feel like often quiet time, still activities are what come to mind for car trips and if your child doesn't like them when you are at home they probably aren't going to enjoy them much more when they are being forced to sit in the car. Pack things that match your child's interests.
3. Pack a separate set of surprises for the trip back.
This always seems like the longest part to me and having new, fun things to do really helps.
4. Follow your usual schedule.
To the best of your abilities, eat when they normally eat, play when they normally play, sleep when they normally sleep.
5. Play music, sing out loud, and be silly.
Music is good for keeping up spirits. I might look a little nuts to drivers passing, but we play favorite songs and sing loudly. I also have a quieter playlist for when we need to calm down a little or get ready for nap. Music can really set the mood. We have quite a collection of road trip kids music.
How we passed the time on our most recent road trip.
1214 Miles Traveled.
1 Mom and 2 Three Year Olds.
490 Minutes Spent Sleeping on their part - not mine. My kids are not very good at sleeping in the car anymore, but they did take some short naps and I was grateful for every moment.
11 Hours was the longest leg of our trip. We drove from St Simons Island back to the Jackson area in one day.
10 Times Through Our Favorite Playlist. My kids love music and I created a playlist of our favorite songs that runs for about 2 hours. In case you're curious, this is his favorite, her favorite, and I still love anything by Lady A and this one right now. I also have a quiet playlist and a children's songs playlist with lots of action songs. Here are more of our favorites in my Best Family Road Trip Music post.
9 Finger Puppets played with. We have ones that are similar to these and they provided much dramatic play entertainment on our trip.
8 Gallon Ziplock Bags Used. My organizational secret for travel? Lots of Ziplock bags. The gallon ones are incredibly helpful for keeping pieces of things together. I use them to bag together extra outfits and create bags of toys like trains and Duplos. When we are done with a group of toys, they pack them back up in the baggie and hand it back to the front. Then another bag gets passed back. Obviously, a fair number of toys ended up on the floor, but this helps us stay somewhat organized and made it much easier for me to manage both driving and entertaining on my solo parenting legs of the drive.
7 Construction Sites Passed. I realize construction is a bummer to most driving, but to my kids it is a highlight. We spotted one huge crane while making our way across Alabama that was especially thrilling.
6 Sticker Pictures Made My kids love these Melissa and Doug reusable sticker pads.
5 Boxes of Snacks Consumed. We aren't huge snack eaters but we make an exception for trips. They had a snack every couple of hours and then smaller meals when we stopped for lunch or dinner. Number and Letter shaped animal crackers were a favorite.
4 Look + Find Books Read. We have a big box of books that sits between the carseats in the back. Books are always a favorite activity, but they are an especially huge fan of Look and Find books right now. These are like ISPY books for the preschool age. They are fun and interactive and helped pass the time. Make sure you have done one of these with your child before the trip so they understand the concept and can do it on their own.
3 Meltdowns. Just so no one thinks me or the kids are perfect. Generally our kids were great troopers with all the natural ups and downs of travel, but we did have three super meltdowns. It happens to everyone.
2 Movies Watched. We got this movie for Christmas and it helped pass the last couple of hours.
1 Podcast Heard. During nap one of the days I listened to this podcast while they were sleeping.
3 Travelers home safely.
Road Trip Ideas for Every Child : READ HERE
How to Plan a Family Road Trip : READ HERE
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