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How to survive a road trip with small kids

Categories: Kid Matters, holidays


Katie, aka motherbumper, is co-founder of The Bad Moms Club and Canada Moms Blog. With her friend, she recently drove from Toronto to Orlando with 3 kids under four and last year she travelled across Canada with the same circus, all in a vain attempt to prove she actually is insane. She succeeded admirably.

How does a parent actually survive a road trip with small kids? Because sometimes it really is survival. No matter how wonderful and well behaved the children are at home, when on a road trip with those same children there will be blood, I mean conflicts. Obviously it’s hard being strapped in a car seat just to go to the grocery store so it must royally suck to be strapped in there for hours on a road trip. I really do understand why small children voice so many travel frustrations while on route — I just wish they didn’t have to do it so loudly. Since tele-portation hasn’t happened yet and installing sound proof pexi-glass between the driver and passengers isn’t always an option, I try to adhere to these ideas when hitting the road with small children.

Set a realistic driving schedule. Recently we drove from Toronto to Orlando with three children 4 and under, so we planned our trip based on a six hour per day. Basically that means over an eight hour day we took a long break approximately every two hours. One rule we adhere to regarding breaks is: if anyone is asleep when it’s break time, we just plow ahead. Basically any time made up in plowing ahead is usually reclaimed later by someone requesting a potty break ten minutes after leaving an hour long play break. When we break to play, we really play, not just eating food.

In-car entertainment? Don’t feel bad about it; Use it, abuse it, then learn to block it out and you will survive. Many author’s have books on tape that appeal to the younger audience and there really are a few awesome ones out there that won’t make you stab yourself in the eardrums. I figure anything without a screen that engages my four year old for almost an hour is golden. BUT that said, if you have access to a screen — aka DVD player — I highly recommend using it. I thought we would never use something like a television in the car just for some peace but holy mackerel, getting 90 minutes of engagement in one flail swoop is platinum.

Plan play-stops en route by tapping online resources for recommendations. And by ‘online resources’ I mean blogging friends, Facebook friends, and any other online friends. Reaching out to online people that I know (safety is key so I’m weary of online people I don’t really know) has resulted in some of the most excellent play date stop overs that wouldn’t have been achieved at a highway rest stop fast-food playroom.

So I’m not sure if these ideas qualify as survival tips, but following them has ensured that no children have been left on the side of the highway by this lady — as tempting as that has been sometimes.

Do you have any travel tips that you’d like to share with us?

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2 comments so far...

  • We used to also bring (1) small etch-a-sketches (2) Leapsters and (3) tiny pads along with some stickers & markers to keep the kids amused when they were little.

    Grace  |  March 24th, 2010 at 9:01 pm

  • Recently spent 4 hours driving with kids in the back. It was the most fun Ive had in my car for a very ong time. We played games of all sorts and entertained ourselves without the means of technology.

    Incense  |  March 30th, 2010 at 9:19 am