Twenty four hours ago, we returned from our first multi-day family road trip. In 7 days, we drove about 3600 miles from Nebraska to Maine. Scott and I are experience junkies, and while our kids feel deprived of “stuff,” we are spoiling them with experiences. They actually sound like experience brats, and they haven’t even left our country yet! On the other hand, they should sound a bit spoiled, in 2012, we have driven to 12 states as a family. Our kids, at ages 7 and 5 have experienced 20 states plus Washington, DC. They have spent HOURS and HOURS in the car since they were babies, despite their protests and tears. Despite of the evident emotional scarring, we now have two AMAZING road trip WARRIORS on our hands. I can’t even begin to describe how easy they are in the car.
Anyway, on the way back from Maine, as we were having a picnic at our LAST road trip stop, I asked the experts from the backseat if they had any advice to offer parents who might be thinking of taking their young kids on a road trip. After a few seconds of blank stares, Scott said, “What advice can you give us to make the next trip better?”
That’s when my son’s tips and tricks began!
McCartney’s advice to his parents, or other parents planning a road trip with their kids:
1. Bring stuff for your kids to do. (He really stressed this. I agree, I also make my kids pack their entertainment and they are in charge of it for the whole trip. We break the rules, and he can play his DS, while my daughter overdoses on movies with one of our two portable DVD players. We tend to unplug at home, so this is a special treat.)
2. Pack snacks that really fill the kids up, like bars. (They loved the Z-Bars I packed for the trip. We try to keep things all natural when we can, but this processed snack has ingredients that we can read, so we allowed it. They also enjoyed Trader Joe’s Fiberfuls, and they helped with our sweet cravings too.)
3. Pack healthy dinners and lunches. (We love our cooler and use it on the road. My son loves to eat out, so I think he said this because he knows this is what we would want him to say. )
4. Have breakfast at the hotel. (As you can see, food is wickedly important to my son and he thinks about it all of the time! Yes, we make sure our hotels offer a free breakfast. Even with our healthy eating, we can all find things we like and can eat.)
5. Don’t bring too much stuff. If you do, put it in the trunk. (Yes, I over packed this time, I will fix it next time! We have decided to have the rule of one on our trip: 1 electronic device per person, 1 stuffed animal, 1 suitcase for boys, and 1 for girls…)
1. The best stops have both bathrooms and playgrounds. Kids need to get out their energy! (I agree with her 100%. My kids are very high energy and they were rock stars, but they had lots of energy to release once the car stopped.)
2. Let the kids stretch. (As you can see, one kid thinks about food, the other about moving.)
Here you have it, advice from our backseat on road trips. Our kids are wonderful travelers, but it didn’t happen overnight. We built their resistance, we break rules, and Scott and I have SUFFERED through hours of crying. Obviously, it has paid off and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I will be posting some more tips and tricks from the FRONT seat.
When I told my son that some families don’t go on road trips, he said, “Why not? They are fun!” (He used to be the loudest crier. If our kids can learn to road trip, your kids can too!
Do you have any tips and tricks for road trips? Please share, we are looking for ideas. Who knows when the next adventure will begin!