We’ve mastered the art of the four hour drive, but it’s that double digit trip that can be a real doozie. As we begin to pack and prepare for our twelve hour plus drive, I figured I’d share what I know now. Some of you might be preparing for a long drive for Christmas Break as well! I’ll do a recap AFTER our 12 hour drive to and from Breckenridge.
This is what I know now, first of all, if you haven’t traveled before or are weary of it altogether let me give you some reassurance. I won’t tell you it’s easy, but DO NOT let that stop you! The end result is always worth any part of it that is difficult. And if you are honest with yourself, days at home have their downs as well. Just remember that it is going to happen, it’s how you react and manage any snaffoos that matters.
For a long drive my first piece of advice, is know they are going to want to get the heck out at some point. You do too and you’re not strapped at 5 points! Schedule or stop a couple of times to do things, or even to just be out of the car. Definitely go as long as you can without stopping when things are good or while they are sleeping. The passenger should always be resting so if its a long leg you two can switch. For us 6 hours straight it worth it if everyone is happy. We even will feed the kids and ourselves from the cooler throughout the drive so that we can keep moving while we can.
My Must Haves:
- Travel Tray This one in particular is a must, it folds down flat, so while not in use it isn’t a bother. It is completely wipe-able and has plenty of pockets and spots for fun activities on the go!
- Cooler full of: water, milk, yogurt, fruit, cheese
- Snack Bag with: chips, goldfish, fruit snacks
- Phone chargers, MANY and if you can, at least one with a long cord
- iPods ((I could dedicate a whole post to why I love the iPod versus any tablet)) loaded with favorite movies via prime, netflix, itunes and such. Games and coloring apps, music & whatever each little loves.
- Headphones, in case they feel like actually using them
- One marker coloring books, I usually buy them on Amazon or at Hobby Lobby. Make sure its the kind that says “reveal a rainbow of colors” because sometimes they only reveal one color and that is kinda boring!
- Play doh (but only if you have that travel tray from Kenley’s Kids, because otherwise you’re just asking for a mess!)
- Small, wipeable toys with not many parts. Ex: My Little Ponies, Little People dolls, Snap Dress Dolls, action figures, hachimals, etc.
- Small Potty like this one. We like to have it for our littlest who is potty training, but also for our big girl, who sometimes cannot hold it when on a busy or long road with no stops. This makes it nice and simple to just go on the side of the road without the worry of a mess on their clothes from attempting to squat (been there done that, its not great). We have even had to use it inside the car, so having the lid on is great until you can go dump the pee :O
- Wipes, wipes, wipes. Lysol/Clorox Wipes, baby wipes, and hand sanitizing wipes. You will need all of these at one point or another.
- Mini trash bags. We prefer to buy the doggy ones, as they are cheaper and literally the same thing as the “diaper” ones. This helps contain all trash, and you can just throw out what you’ve got when you stop and start a new bag if necessary!
Usual Trip Progression:During a long ride you need to try to pull at the big guns last. Therefore, no technology until you NEED it. Start slow, if you can enjoy the ride in peace, with music and cuddly toys that would be great. If you can leave early/late in the night and push through while the kiddos are asleep, DO IT! The key to driving with kids is go as far as you can without stopping.
1. At the beginning of our drive you will see us playing I spy with my little eye, singing 99 bottles of beer (or milk) on the wall, jamming out to princess music, trying to figure out what you see when you look at the clouds, etc. 2. Once we’ve exhausted all non toy options we move on to toys, coloring, play-doh, action figures, barbies, talking books, etc. If you are going this route you should really check out Kenley’s Kids, they have a wipeable and completely foldable activity tray that we LOVE! (Use the code 10WITHCANDG on amazon for 10% off!). It sits nicely on their lap, and helps them have an actual space to play (and eat)3. Usually now we will fill up our kiddos with food and snacks. This activity wastes some time and keeps them quiet AND happy. Don’t forget to schedule a potty break, better to stop when you want to and not have to pull over in the middle of nowhere, though be prepare that it will eventually happen!4. Pull out the big guns, movie time is best at first. Don’t let them be on the internet just yet. If they can entertain watching something for a couple of hours that’s a great way to just keep moving. Another option is coloring apps, educational apps, or games. My kids at this point fall asleep. They have been going pretty hard and a movie or even a game may put them out after a while. Again, DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE!5. Everyone is now tired, everyone wants to get the heck out of the car. Stop somewhere and let everyone move, buy some junk at the gas station, and potty break. Once you’re back in, pull out your biggest gun yet, YouTube Kids. This will buy you some good time. Don’t feel guilty about the screen time, you’re in survival mode right now!6. Even the screen time doesn’t help near the end. Pray they fall asleep again, if they don’t go back to step one. Start singing songs, looking at clouds, playing iSpy. Talk to them about where you’re going, what you’re going to do. And hopefully, at this point, you’re about to get there. If not, DO NOT EVER FEEL BAD ABOUT MORE SCREEN TIME. Survival mode guys!
Driving for a long time can be rough. If you can stop every 6/8 hours for an overnight, we do recommend it. We like to pick a cool mid point, find ourselves a hotel, something to see, and somewhere to eat. We go to bed as soon as we can so that we can start the next day early.
My biggest advice is, go with the flow. Don’t stress over little things because it is so stressful enough as it is. Give your kiddos a break, remember they are LITERALLY strapped at five points and their little bodies probably hurt after a couple of hours. Give yourself a break, eat a junky snack and drink a diet coke. You too are stuck in a car! Look forward to the time ahead, as the memories will always be worth all the travel, no matter how long that drive is!
Again, I don’t promise to have all the answers, but I do promise to be honest. This is how we survive it, and if any of these tips and tricks make your life easier, then my job is done here.
Safe travels friends,