Planning a Road Trip with Kids
Planning a road trip can be a big challenge and often requires a lot of thought. I for one, spent weeks writing lists and planning so I didn't forget anything. The biggest tip I can give you is, BE ORGANISED. There is nothing worse than getting on the road and realizing you forgot something. You then end up stopping at a roadhouse in the middle of no where to buy the forgotten item (in my case - spoons) and quite often its 5 times the usual price you would pay at home.
I am really big on being organised. From the things I need to pack to the way I pack the car and also the planning of the trip.
4 tips I can give you for planning -
1. Plan Ahead
Plan ahead but make sure you dont over plan. Plan your itinerary to suit your kids schedules and stop at regular intervals. There is not much point giving yourself a time frame unless you do not have children in tow. One thing I have always found is that you don't know when they will need a toilet break or have an accident or throw one of those dreadful tantrums. These quite often throw your entire day out of whack.
2. BYO Food & Drink
It is very expensive to buy anything in the middle of no where. There was one stop we made and spent almost $100 to get ourselves lunch and a drink each. Ridiculous! That said, pack food. Lots of it. If you can get a car refrigerator and have the room for it, I would highly recommend it.
2. Leave early
Leaving before the sun comes up. Best idea we have ever had! We left between 4 and 5 am and managed to knock off a few hours of driving while the kids were still asleep. This gave us more time at our overnight stop to wind down and let the kids run around.
3. Book ahead
Work out where you would like to stay at each stop and book! You dont want to reach your preferred stop and have no accommodation. You will then be stuck driving a few more hours with kids that have probably had enough for one day.
Make sure you get plenty of rest the nights before you take off for your road trip. Sleep deprivation can put you on edge and you'll most likely take it out on your kids (who are probably not being as terrible as you think) and it can make for unsafe driving.
There is one thing I dislike and that is mess. Here are some things we did to pack our car to keep it as neat as possible.
1. Clean Up
Clean out your car! Get rid of any rubbish, dirt and any little toys and gadgets the kids may have left lying round. Start fresh.
Before placing your luggage into the car, make sure all your kids seats and baby capsules are secure and clipped into place - up to 70 percent of all car seats are not installed correctly. In most cars, your luggage gets placed in the way of the anchors and you will save yourself the trouble of having to re do everything.
Designate someone to do most of the packing. Choose the person with the best packing skills or as I put it, the best at playing tetris. In our family, that person is me. James is absolutely hopeless and prefers to just put things anywhere he can find.
Sort out your items into two categories. 'Dont really need til we reach our destination' and 'We need this during our trip'. Make sure you're not placing your essential items down the bottom of the luggage pile. This saves you digging through and turning your neatly packed car into a pile of rubble blocking your rear view.
5. Keeping handy
One thing I've learnt from travelling with kids is to keep things at arms reach. I am always in the passenger seat dealing with all the kids needs and dreaded if I ever needed to ask James to stop so I could get something out of the back of the car. Do not overstock or you will find yourself piling things at your feet which is not great for comfort. Keep it simple. Nutritious snacks, baby wipes, tissues etc and the occasional treat for those moments when you need to restrain your temper.
Kids. They need ALOT to keep them occupied. Especially if you want to bust out 2 or 3 hours of driving at one time. Here are some things that I would recommend -
1. Portable DVD players & Tablets
Make sure to pack these and that the batteries are fully charged. Load them up with movies and apps. New movies are great for the older ones but if you have children like my 2 year old, they will like their favourites. Over and over and over again. So be sure to pack their own headphones.
2. Small toys
Pack small toys. Anything too large will take up too much space and just get in the way. Colour packs and crayons are great and some new cheap toys that they havent played with before and of course their favourites. Again, if they are like my 2 year old, you will get half way through your trip and they will be asking for it.
I always do some online research and find some nice places we can stop at for lunch or a quick run around. Anything that will be interesting to them. Find a playground, nice picnic areas or historic spots. Alot of small towns you pass through will have a playground in the centre. It doesn't have to be costly. My kids would be happy to stop and look at a lizard!
Pack plenty but don't be too light handed. You will only end up with upset stomachs and more toilet breaks. Make them nutritious and healthy and keep the treats to a minimum and use only when necessary.You want to limit the sugar intake or it will lead to way too much energy in the car. Which we don't want!
5. Potty time
We were very "lucky" to have my 2 year old suddenly turn her light bulb switch on just days before we left for our road trip. It was a great milestone but man was it wrong timing! Plenty of pull ups were packed and a portable potty came very handy. As frustrating as it was, we couldn't say no when she wanted to go. The last thing you want is them to go backwards!
Put them in comfortable clothing. Even if its their pajamas and bring along any security items.
Last of all, do not forget about yourselves! Kids can consume you. Take your time to relax, read, write, listen to a podcast, take in the scenery, anything to just enjoy the drive.
Do you have any great tips to add? I'd love to hear about them. Maybe it can help make my travels even easier! Leave a comment.