Yesterday I packed up kid 1 and kid 2 and headed to my parents for a working 2-night vacation while they visited with the grandfolk. Me, toddler, and baby piled into the car for the 3-hour drive and while it definitely was not my first rodeo, it was my first long drive with both ya-hoos since my youngest started to interact with my eldest (1 and 3 years old respectively).
That’s the inside of my car. Remnants of the trip: used tissue, cap of a bottle, DVD case, makeup and coffee cup strewn about (makeup applied in car of course). My car’s been with me since 2008 and I love her. I bought her when kids weren’t even close to in the cards yet but I have to tell you, she is the magic dream when traveling with children. Why? DVD player, that’s why. And cruise control of course. We hit 334,000 km last week.
So this time I lucked out, both kids slept 80% of the way, and the rest of the drive we spent eating snacks and making up a new language.
My 10 tips for travelling with kids, when you’re planning to drive and the trip is over 1 hour:
- Don’t expect them to act like they are in a car. They will act however they want regardless of space confinement issues. I.E. one will somehow wriggle out of the seat belt at least once, somehow manage to get a soother stuck in the front vent under the windshield, or have piece of clothing magically disappear that was on them when you left the house. (Cars aren’t that big – where are your pants?)
- Bring snacks. Even ones they don’t normally like, because today, on your long drive during which there are parts where you can’t pull over, they will want snacks that they normally scoff at.
- Bring paper towel. For sopping up everything including the always possible vomit. This train isn’t stopping even for your juice-puke.
- Pack some kind of screen-based distraction OR lots of movies for the DVD player. Doesn’t matter what kind of mood takes over your toddler, Paw Patrol always saves the day.
- Pack: extra clothes, diapers, wipes, bottles and drinks, toys, odd objects that wouldn’t normally be considered toys but might entice their interest when nothing else will calm a car tantrum.
- When you have to pee, don’t stop at a gas station or coffee shop to do it: find a remote area if possible and pull over to drain the tank. Trust me, the possibility of getting murdered in a wooded area is better than having to solo wrangle your small people in a tiny bathroom that’s inevitably disgusting, especially when after you do this, there is almost zero percent chance everyone is getting back in the car without one person having a tantrum (because everyone is tired of driving after 15 minutes, even you).
- Before said trip, keep those small people up for as long as humanly possible, so that there is a strong possibility of sleep in the car. Best and most important tip of all time. You get quiet time AND they are in much better moods when you arrive at your destination. (Yes mamas! You can have a bit of quiet time!)
- Don’t drink too much before you leave, so that you can avoid all incidents revolving around tip 6.
- If possible, try to only bring one kid with you.
- Be sure to pack extra sanity in case of necessity.