Another long drive of nearly 1,100 kilometers which we have in the previous two years completed a couple of times, is over now. So I think we are pretty pros on how to handle long trips with children. If you have worries from long car rides with your kids, read my tips on how to handle them.
Long road trips with kids aren’t always fun fests, logging long kilometers in the car can be exhausting for everyone (fussy babies and squabbling siblings can turn a road trip into the nightmare). But they are doable, and at times even enjoyable. I’d like to share today what works for us.
1. The excitement
The key is getting excited, that makes the entire preparation process easier. So it is important to get the children excited to what awaits them at the end of the ride. We usually travel to the Czech Republic 3 times a year, so in addition to grandmothers and grandfathers, our kids look forward especially to Christmas gifts, Easter whipping, and to cool summer romping with their cousins and friends.
Furthermore – due to the fact that we set out on our ride in the middle of the night – they are excited about not going to sleep in pajamas, as usual, but half dressed in clothes in which they will travel (so T-shirt and sweatpants). So the enthusiasm (and importantly, a sense of adventure) our children really don´t miss.
2. The packing
Besides the usual things like clothes whose packaging I take care myself, I let the children choose their favorite toys that they take for the ride. Sometimes it’s a new toy (Christmas gift) they want to show their grandparents or their favorite toy with which they go to sleep. If you’re traveling with a baby or toddler, bring travel-friendly toys – I mean choose soft ones that don´t hurt your child in case of heavy braking or sudden change of direction.
When packing I emphasize that I always keep on hand extra change of clothes (for spills or “pee-accidents”). So not clumped at the bottom of the largest suitcase underneath the other suitcases, but somewhere on the top.
What also proved is a car seat organizer, where I always keep tissues, wet wipes and other small items that children might need during the ride.
Food packing deserves its own chapter:
3. The food
We don’t want to spend a ton of money stopping for fast food along the way (ok, one exception at McDonald´s is allowed :)), so I pack a lot of snacks and keep them on hand in the cooling bag (usually behind my seat). Better overpack, than having your children
nervous and yelling from starving.
On our rides, various sandwiches (sweet with marmalade and also ham/cheese/eggs sandwiches) proved well, we pack also some biscuits or crackers, fruit purees in pouches. It’s also important to have enough beverages. For adults coffee in thermal mugs, for children tea in a flask and bottles of water.
If your baby drinks formula, pack bottles and premeasured powdered formula (we use this Tescoma canister*) and a warm water in a flask.
When your baby’s ready to eat and you give him/her baby food, I recommend food warmer (we have this one).
4. The Breaks
The advantage of a road trip is that you can pull over and get out whenever you want. We already know places where we stop for having breakfast, going to toilet etc. If you are preparing for your first long ride, the secret is planning. Check Google maps in advance, check online for rest places with playgrounds/picnic spots/baby-friendly restaurant etc.
Due to your safety stop at regular intervals not only to take your meal but also to stretch your legs or just breathe some fresh air to recharge.
5. The entertainment
During the long ride, it is especially important to avoid boredom. Although I always bring a tablet with kid-friendly movies for emergencies, yet I’ve never used it (I´m proudly slapping my shoulder :)). What scores, it´s another screen – the navigation. Our boys enjoy watching the passing kilometers, while thus successfully avoiding the annoying question: “Are we there yet?” (Remember Donkey from Shrek 2? No? So just to recap:
Another option is to play with toys, talk about the way we’re currently driving, watch passing cars and choose the most interesting. Games are another great way to keep older kids entertained. I think there are a lot of ways how to beat the boredom without the conveniences of modern technologies.
This is what works for us. Traveling with kids can be stressful and many unexpected things can happen. But it can also be a great experience and a source of family stories 🙂
And what are your experiences of traveling with children? What works for you? Share with others in the comments bellow!
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*) This is not a sponsored post, but I wouldn´t be angry if it were 😉