How often do you have those “I’m going to lose my damn mind” moments when you are traveling with your kids? Do you dread taking road trips with them? Do you just avoid it? Oh the smiles on their faces can quickly turn to tears, screaming, whining and you want to pound your face on your steering wheel… But, does it have to be that way?
Tip 1: Avoid the day before traveling stress by preparing early!! That seems so simple but it is true. I am a work well under pressure type of person but I also don’t want to make my head pop off from stress! I pack up clothes, toiletries and essentials days in advance just so I don’t have to worry about it the day before. Gas up and load up your vehicle the night before you head out so you can get to sleep early and rest knowing that everything is taken care of!
Tip 2: Leave at the booty buttcrack of dawn and let the kids sleep in the car as much as possible! If you are driving five hours and they sleep for three of those then you are pretty much gold after that! I wake up anywhere between 3am and 4am the morning of a road trip. I load up the kids in their pajamas, get them all cozy with their travel pillows and we take off. When they wake up we stop, have breakfast (that I pack ahead of time), change clothes and we are off again.
Tip 3: Pack them their own travel bag filled with favorite toys, new books and fun on the go games and crafts. Disconnect as much as possible and give them fun things to do! I make little travel scavenger hunt pages of landmarks and things they will see along the way. Things like: A Blue Car, A Y Shaped Tree, Someone Picking Their Nose (The kids LOVE this one and it ALWAYS happens! We can see you people!!). They work together and get a sticker or small prize. I also play along to keep their competitive drive going… they love beating me in any games we play. It rarely happens.
Tip 4: Snacks, snacks and more snacks. Just bring them. Screw the crumbs!
Tip 5: Bring music your kids like even if it makes you want to poke your own eyes out. Why? It’s not always about us. Road trips can suck and kid’s music can be mind-numbing… but if it makes your kids happy to listen to Mary Had a Little Lamb or Wheels on The Bus then give them their time for their music. Sing along with them… don’t be shy… no one can hear you. Well, unless you have the windows down and/or you sing like a loud banshee.
Tip 6: Audio Books are rad for road trips! If you can get your kids their own listening devices (Don’t judge… I burn books onto CDs and give them old portable CD players… my kids don’t have ipods!) so they can listen at their level. Don’t want to spend the money on them? Okay, record yourself reading your child’s favorite book. Seriously, they will love it… again, unless you talk like a banshee.
Tip 7: Play a story game. One person starts the story, the next adds to it, and then the next person and so on. We love doing this. My son usually turns it into something about peeing or pooping… because he is a 4 year old boy but hearing him say “And then the Princess went on a boat and she farted so loud she scared aaaaall the fish out of the water!”
Tip 8: Don’t lose your shit. Just enjoy it as much as you can. The more positive and upbeat you are the more your kids will be. They feed off of us! You don’t want to be that crazy parent screaming in the car… because though you think no one can hear you everyone can see your crazy yelling mad face.
And that face isn’t pretty.
My outlook on traveling with kids is simple… the best thing I can do for them is not complain, make it fun, keep them entertained and make the most of it. Road trips are the moments that become the memories we treasure or they can be the trips that sucked. Either way… happy and safe travels!
About Leila DontSpeakWhinese
Leila, aka The Ninja, is the advocate for all things not whining. Parenting is fun when everyone stops b*tching! She is the Mom of a big blended family of five awesome kids. They ninja kick through life together. Oh and she is a total jackass.