Hey there, fellow adventurous parents! So, you’ve decided to go on the ultimate road trip with your small kids – kudos to you! Trust me, I know the mix of excitement and nerves that come with this territory. We are going next weekend, and I am trying to decide were we stupid, naive, crazy or just not thinking straight. We will be driving for about 16 hours divided into two days, not counting all the stops we will have to take to feed the baby, use the toilet and stretch the legs. My husband and I even decided to create a game out of it, betting on who would get us to stop more often, a toddler or a baby. With hopes of all of us making it alive out of this trip, I have gathered some invaluable tips to make this journey a roaring success!
Preparation is the Key!
Before you hit the open road, take a little time to prepare for the trip. The truth is that a little planning goes a long way. First things first, get your car checked out. Safety comes first, and ensuring it’s road-worthy and ready to handle the road trip is crucial. We discovered we needed to change our tires ASAP as they most likely wouldn’t survive the highway and blazing heat. Pack an emergency kit, just in case, and ensure you are covered for any occasion that might happen during the trip but also at your final destination. For example, add products that deal with bug bites if going where that is likely to happen. We are going to Croatia, so I packed various mosquito repellents. Keep the emergency kit handy so you are ready if the situation arises.
Next up, snacks and drinks galore!
The moment you start driving, the kids will be more hungry or thirsty than they ever were in their entire life. So, stock up on their favourite munchies and drinks, and make sure you have enough to last the entire trip. We bought an organiser hanging from the passenger’s seat in front of my toddler, where we will put snacks and drinks so we don’t have to keep handing her different snacks. It will also fit some of her toys that might keep her occupied for a while. We found it is best to prepare smaller portions of different types of snacks because she likes having choices and planning in which order she will eat them.
Pack Like a Pro!
Packing for a road trip with kids requires some strategic thinking. Pack, reassess and then add some extra clothes for those inevitable spills and accidents. Let’s face it, something will happen. Wet wipes and tissues are your superpowers against messes, so stash them everywhere! As a mother of a toddler that manages to find a muddy puddle on the sunniest day, I can definitely vouch for this.
Most importantly, don’t forget the entertainment arsenal. Tablets, books, colouring books, and stickers are your allies in keeping boredom at bay. Even if you are not usually for giving your kids screens, bring them just in case. We usually avoid screen time as she is good at entertaining herself, but I am well aware this will be a special occasion, and giving her a tablet at the right moment might save my sanity. And let’s not overlook the power of a trusty blanket and their favourite stuffed animal – these comforting companions can work wonders.
Play the Games.
Long road trips can feel endless, especially for your little ones. But fear not, because there are plenty of fun games to keep them occupied. “I Spy” is a classic that never gets old. “20 Questions” is another winner – it’s like a mini mind-reading game!
You can even play the storytelling game, where each family member takes turns adding to a story. You’ll be amazed at the imaginative tales your kids come up with! Our toddler loves it, even though all protagonists are called Emily, and their mission is saving Mommy or Daddy. I have even created a road trip bingo for her with things we might see on the way. Choose games you know will be best for your toddler.
Music, Music, Music.
Nothing sets the mood like a rockin’ playlist! Prepare a mix of your kids’ favourite tunes and some sing-along classics. Our Spotify playlist is Ms Rachel’s Songs for Littles mixed with some Imagine Dragons and George Ezra. Emily has eclectic taste 🙂 Get ready for a mini karaoke session on wheels – it’s a fantastic way to bond and pass the time.
Make Pit Stops Fun
Let’s face it – kids have small bladders and boundless energy. As I said, we already decided to make a game of betting who will get us to stop more time, considering the size of my bladder that might even be me. Embrace the unplanned pit stops! Use these moments to stretch your legs, enjoy the fresh air and the scenery. A mini dance party at a rest area or a quick cuddle time? Why not! It’s all part of the adventure.
The Golden Rule: Patience.
When you feel at the end of your rope, remind yourself of the golden rule – patience is the key. It’s natural for kids to get a bit restless during a long journey, and that’s okay. Take deep breaths, stay calm, and remember, this road trip is a memorable experience for them too.
Reward their Behavior.
Positive reinforcement works wonders! Promise a special treat or a fun activity when you reach your destination. It gives your kids something to look forward to and motivates them to be the best little travellers. Emily is obsessed with hotels, so the promise of a hotel stay at the end of the first day is enough to keep her excited about a road trip.
With these survival tips in your pocket, you’re well-prepared to conquer the road trip adventure with your small kids. Embrace the chaos, cherish the laughter, and make memories that will last a lifetime. Happy trails!