Friday, January 17, 2014

Long Trips with Kidz - A Survival Guide

When I grew up, we drove EVERYWHERE. My mom was terrified of flying. So we quickly got used to long car rides. Now that I have kidz of my own, I'd prefer to fly but it's cheaper to drive. And sometimes we go places that are not near an airport. People think I'm crazy to get in the car for 19 hours with my kidz. But I have to say, they are pretty good about it. They, like me, have been dragged up and down the eastern seaboard several times. So here are my tips to a successful long trip (this can apply to long airplanes trips as well).

1. If your kids will sleep in the car (mine won't) leave in the middle of the night! If you can scoop them out of bed & drive, that is a good bunch of uninterrupted hours! I've tried this but by the time I am out of the shower, they are up, dressed, with suitcases in hand!

2. Hide some car friendly toys about a month before you go. Then pack a car bag for each child with those toys and some new ones. I usually load up at the dollar store & buy silly things. You'd be surprised how entertaining a birthday blower is! (Just get the ones that DON'T make noise!) Ideas for what to put in that bag:
  • paper, pencils, crayons etc
  • MP3 player & earbuds
  • books, magazines
  • electronics (Kindle, iPad etc)
  • magnet dolls, puzzle games, matchbox cars, legos, a soft pillow for naps
3.  Timing is EVERYTHING! I try to think of the trip in hour long blocks of time. Since my kids are relatively small (9 & 7), we usually need to pit stop every 3 hours. So NO DRINKS for at least the first hour. No electronics for the first hour. We play games like I Spy, 20 questions, licence plate game. The second hour can be food and drinks - but small sips - trying to reduce pit stops is key! Third hour is electronics, but no movie just yet. PIT STOP. Again first hour no food or electronics. hour 2-3 movie. PIT STOP. You've just completed 6 hours successfully! Now rotate these for the next 6.

4. Effective Pit Stops: Make sure you can get gas, use the restroom & get supplies ALL IN ONE STOP. In NY and NJ there are roadside pit stops that have this, everywhere else on I-95 does NOT. The rest areas on 95 or 81 are bathrooms & vending machines only. So if you have food & gas, then use these. I usually bring a ball, jump ropes and/or Frisbee for these types of stops. 15 minutes of running around will save your sanity later on!

5. IF you are driving far enough that you need 2 days, we try to do as much as we can the first day. By the second day, the kids are SHOT! So haul it on the first day & try to stay at a hotel with an indoor pool that is open LATE. That way, you can roll in at 10pm, let the kids swim for an hour, and still get to sleep at a relatively decent time. I try to leave less than 6 hours for the second day.

6. Finally, be flexible! Especially if this is your first or second major car trip with the kidz. Have several plans as for where to stop, because your intended goal may not happen. Have a change of clothes available because one of your kidz may get car sick (yes that happened to us). Have plenty of snacks & food items because you don't always get hungry near a McDonalds. And remember, the journey should be part of the whole adventure. So take a deep breath and embrace the sillies at hour 12!

I hope this helps!

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