Long drives with kids can be the stuff of nightmares.
But it is such a cheap way to travel.
I have made several long road trips with my kids, and I feel like I have a pretty good system.
I always bring:
– portable DVD player
– small selection of DVD’s, at least one favorite one and several that haven’t been watched recently
– coloring books, crayons, markers, blank paper
– action figures and Polly Pocket-size dolls and accessories
– Pillow petz/small pillows
– kids’ books on CD
– Nintendo DS lite
I fought getting the kids handheld video games for a long time before giving in earlier this year. Because they both enjoy them so much, and they can send each mother messages through “pictochat,” the DS is a good motivator. As in, when I have to shout threats from the front seat, I can include a threat to take their DS’ and they usually shape up quickly.
One other thing I have learned through frequent road trips with the kids is that it is best – and safest – if I have the things I might need for the drive easily accessible for me. I have a shallow box that fits in the passenger seat, just a plain cardboard box, that I use to organize the DVD’s, CD’s, napkins/wipes, snacks, and small toys. This makes it easy to grab what I need and pass it back to them without needing to stop the car every 20 minutes.
For snacks, I bring grapes, granola bars, apples, string cheese, cookies, goldfish crackers, and lunchables. I bring one or two insulated lunch bags and put everything that needs to stay cold inside them in the fridge until we leave. For drinks, each kid has a steel water bottle and I bring a jug of water to refill.
Bathroom breaks are the bane of my road-tripping existence, especially because of my 4 year-old’s fickle bladder. I make everyone use the bathroom every time I stop – so every time I get gas or stop for a coffee, we pile out of the car and use the potty. This can eat up a LOT of time, so I try not to stop unless I have to.
We survived two 12+ hour drives. And I am so happy to be home. And out of the car.