Our first major road trip this summer with the kids was a great success. We took them from New York to Chicago. How did this happen over a 14 hour road trip with 3 kids ages 6, 4, and 3? Check out my top 8 tips to a smoother road trip with young kids right here:
Get the kids involved. I had my 6 and 4 year old girls pick out the clothes they wanted to bring a couple of days before the trip. This activity got them excited and involved in the trip planning process. They also packed-up a lot of the toys they wanted to bring with them. They have actually played with these toys since we arrived. The amount of clothes they packed is another story. Nevertheless, they felt involved and excited about the packing process.
Departure time. We decided to start our trip at 5:00 pm. Since we were driving from New York to Chicago, we wanted to get as far as possible while the kids would be asleep. Thankfully, we made it all the way to Austintown, Ohio (we arrived at 2:00 am). The kids transferred just fine and we woke-up, had breakfast (included) and were on the road again by 9:00 am. I don’t know if this would work for all families, but we were thrilled that this travel strategy was a success.
Let’s get comfortable. Another part of having kids sleep in the car without too much kvetching is having them bring their pillow, blanket, and stuffed animal/doll along for the ride. This helped to create a soothing environment for them in the car. My 3 year old was so tired he didn’t need anything other than the dark of the night to put htm to sleep.
Batteries must be included. We are so fortunate to have some incredible V.Reader Interactive E-Reading System in our toy collection. All of my kids love playing with these, but they have to take turns since we only have 2 of them. I made sure that I had all of these toys in one bag with extra AA batteries.
Batteries not required. In order to keep everybody happy, I also brought the Fisher-Price Doodle Pro Classic along with us. Thankfully, this was an item of interest to them all. My 6 year old brought her summer writing book with her and she spelled out words for a part of the trip. This was fun and educational.
Snack packs. My kids loved packing up their clothes. Actually, the girls packed for their 3 year old brother as well. The snack packs was another fun activity for the k ids. We went to the store and picked out snacks that they wanted (with mom’s approval). Juice boxes, rice cakes and Pretzel Crisps were in demand. They were also allowed to pick out one candy of their choice to keep in their snack pack.
Keep them cool. Since we keep strictly Kosher both inside and outside of the home, we need to always travel with at least 2 coolers. We had a block of cheese, cream cheese, chocolate syrup, milk, water bottles, and cupcakes in tow. In order to keep the cupcake consumption to a minimum, I gave them out each time we entered a new state. These cupcakes also came in handy when we had to stop at the rest area to use the bathroom. Rest areas are great, but the kids aren’t always so eager to get back into the car. The game area is always a distraction. With the help of the cupcakes, we were able to get them away from the games and back in the car and back on the road easier.
That’s entertainment. I must admit, we do not have a DVD player in our car. I know that this is a travel must these days. In fact, my kids don’t even have an iPod and we don’t even have a iPad. How do we manage? We actually use our Android Ally and a $10 patch chord, or a cable, that my husband bought at Radio Shack. This cable connects our Android to the car stereo and we play Pandora. The sound quality is outstanding. When the kids are awake, we put on the Wiggles or Sesame Street. When the kids are asleep, we listen to Feist or Jonathon Richman. As with any car stereo, we switch the fader to the front or center. That’s how we roll.
This was our best road trip ever. We planned ahead, made good time, and rested when we needed to. If you are making the trip from New York to Chicago this summer, try making it to Austintown, Ohio. We stayed at a brand new Holiday Inn Express (it was literally their first night open) and the beds were like a dream come true. We woke-up and enjoyed the breakfast (included in our stay) and were back on the road again by 9:00 am. We made great time and we arrived at our destination about 4:00 pm. It is road trips like this that make traveling with young kids fun and fast.