Saturday, April 13, 2013

Tips and Tricks for traveling with children...

We recently returned from a vacation on the beach.  We drove 15 hours there and 15 hours back.  We have done this trip multiple times with our 3 children (9, 7 and 4), and they've always done so great.  Typical challenges along the way, but so great overall.  I wanted to take a moment to share what's worked for us and to also encourage you to share in the comment section what has worked for you!

So, here's my story...

I guess it all started one day when I realized I really wanted to travel a lot with our children, but I also realized that we couldn't buy 5 plane tickets on a regular basis.

I have never been a fan of long road trips - even before kids.  After 3 hours, I'm done!  I knew my mindset must change if we were going to travel with children.  I believe there are great lessons to be learned with traveling and being uncomfortable.

Here are a few of my thoughts and reflections on traveling with children.

:: I believe traveling success starts with Josh and me.  We must have a positive, optimistic attitude about the adventure ahead.  If we lose it, they all lose it.  Even if we feel like we're falling apart, we must appear patient and joyful.  Expect challenges and expect to be uncomfortable.  Respond to the challenging and uncomfortable moments in a light hearted way.  As Josh put it (while stuck in a traffic jam, and I was losing it), "Myah, this is a wonderful opportunity to show our children patience."  Oh geez!  Ok, I'll try.

:: You can not be afraid to travel.  Once you start doing it, you'll see how much fun you can really have!

:: Expect challenging and uncomfortable moments.

:: We don't do a great deal of entertaining of the children in the car.  If they get uncomfortable, we offer our love and support, but we also tell them that they need to work through it.  I encourage them to fall asleep so the time goes by faster!

:: We talk a lot about how we're going to be in the car for a really long time.  So basically, settle right in.  It's going to be a while, so make the best of it!  It will be worth it when we get there.

:: We have certain boundaries in the home, but in the car - they're gone.  If our children are happiest watching movies or on electronics for a good chunk of time, then fine!  It's all about keeping the peace. They're not going to be messed up as a result.

:: We let them plow through an entire pack of gum, if they want.

:: I even let Ian unbuckle and jump up and down a few times, if he's going stir crazy.  It totally takes the edge off.

:: We've had a few times when a child has puked.  That's not any fun at all!  I called our pediatrician about this, and they recommended a tsp of Benadryl.  If a child starts to complain of feeling yucky, I will totally offer some Benadryl.  It really has seemed to take the edge off!

:: Have a roll of paper towels, a trash can, a few trash bags and a change of clothes for each child in a handy location.

:: We're super flexible when we're traveling.  That is the key!

:: The more we travel, the better we get.

:: There are always a couple moments when someone completely loses it.  If the wheels start to fall off, it's ok.  Try to fix it, make the best of it and take lots of deep breaths.  You'll be there soon!!

:: We've gone on a handful of trips that are 12-16 hours long.  We've tried it a few different ways.  We tried the through the night thing, the daytime thing and something in the middle.  We have found that something in the middle is perfect for us!  We get the car packed up the night before.  We all go to bed around 9pm and get a good chunk of sleep.  We wake up the kids at 3am and put them in the car.  They all fall back to sleep and usually sleep until around 8 or 9 a.m.  We stop for a good stretch, breakfast and go at it again.  They usually doze off again later in the afternoon.  We arrive at our destination in the late afternoon/early evening.  We unload the car, eat supper and go to bed!  We wake up the next day rested and ready to enjoy our vacation.   This has definitely been the way that's worked best for us.

:: Enjoy the journey there.  Talk about the cities and states you're entering.  Follow a map.

:: Make your stops meaningful.  We love having our big breakfast at a Cracker Barrel.  We love stopping at a Wendy's for a frosty and fries.  That's not something we do often, so it's such a special treat.  We love stopping at a pretty rest area or park where the kids can run around, burn some energy and possibly learn about something.  One time along the way, we'll let the kids pick out a special snack or drink in a gas station.  Again, that's not something they ever get to do, so it's such a special treat for them.

Traveling Activities and Snacks...

Here are some of our favorite activities:

:: audio books on CD
:: movie DVDs
:: music concert DVDs
:: License Plate Game
:: Hangman
:: Memory
:: I Spy something...
:: stickers on paper
:: doodle/drawing book
:: notebook and pencil
:: Travel Journal
:: listening to the radio
:: naps - quiet time
:: mad libs
:: follow a map and track where you're going
:: talk to each other
:: make up stories
:: read books (none of us can really read in the car, so this is minimal for us)
:: crochet (this is hard for me to do in the car too)
:: iPad
:: iPhone

Favorite Snacks:
I don't let the kids eat a ton of junk in the car.  They're not used to eating junk, and I don't want to deal with stomach aches.  Gum, mints and suckers have been special treats and just fine on them.

:: carrott sticks
:: sugar snap peas
:: apples
:: bananas
:: crackers
:: granola bars
:: nuts
:: pretzels
:: veggie chips
:: gum
:: suckers
:: mints
:: fruit snacks
:: bread, pb and jelly
:: water

I hope this has been helpful to you in some way.  I would love to hear your traveling tips and tricks.

Please share!  :)

Happy Traveling!!


  1. CANNOT believe I just found your site! My parents did the similar road trip schedule (3am wake-up calls to hop in a van always felt so exciting to me!!!). Such smart tips. :)

    See you tonight!!!

  2. Yay, good to see you, Erin!!! :)


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