Traveling from the East Coast to the West Coast with two infants, two small children, a dog and two vehicles was not my first road trip with kids. But it was the hardest. And I learned a few things.
That may not sound like the ideal way to take a road trip but, living the military life we just do what we need to do. As a planner by nature, I focused on the trouble areas and designed a road trip plan to keep the known challenges in check.
We all know there can be the unexpected that pops up along the way. All we can do is plan ahead in an attempt to stay sane on a road trip with kids.
Snacks, Snacks, Snacks
On a road trip with kids, I always pack a ton of snacks. Snacks are passed out like gifts at an Oprah’s favorite things show. You get a snack and you get a snack! I become a yes-mom to all the snacks at any time on a road trip. Sanity plan equals frequent snacks.
Great snacks to pack are individually wrapped cereal bars, small bags of crackers or pouches. These limit the mess potential. They make it easy for the kids to choose what they want from what is available.
Make Every Stop Count
Instead of quick stops, take your time so everyone gets to move. We make each stop count: move, restroom break, walk the dog around for a good 15-20 minutes.
On our coast-to-coast road trip during a PCS, I needed frequent stops to feed my twin infants. My older two children could play with bubbles, run around the car, or we even used this silly trick with duct tape to get them playing, moving and cleaning. Clever tricks I keep up my sleeve like this one help maintain the sanity on a road trip!
Bonus: Kids nap better and everyone is happier on each stretch of the drive when we make our stops longer.
Save Electronics for After the Lunch Stop
During the kids’ typical rest time after lunch, they can watch TV or a movie. We have the kids wait until the afternoon so they do not go into technology overload. It affects their moods.
When I had preschoolers, these road trip activity ideas for kids were so helpful. A simple lap desk, fresh crayons and drawing paper never fail to keep the kids occupied during travel.
Now that the kids are older, I still put together activity bags for them. They keep Mad Libs, crosswords, or hidden picture puzzle activity books in their backpacks.
The kids use their activity bag items to stay occupied during the AM portions of the trip. When we get to the afternoon, it is open screen time. That sets a limit so they are not on screens the entire day.
Road Trip Sanity Key: Plan for the Challenges
Staying sane on a road trip with kids is all about planning for the challenges. A road trip plan is like a financial plan. You prepare and save for the goals you have right now, but ultimately there are challenges that can pop up. Making a plan means those challenging moments are just a tad bit easier to navigate.
And remember, when unexpected challenges do show up on a road trip, pass out snacks.
What road trips do you have planned for this summer? Any good tips you use to stay sane on a road trip with kids? Share them in the comments below.
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