I just came back from visiting my parents and in-laws over the weekend. My wife and two young kids were with me.
On a normal day, the trip takes us 4 hours. But due to heavy traffic, it took us 6 hours to reach and 8 hours for the round trip respectively.
One would admit that a 6-hour (or 8-hour) trip with kids is no easy task.
In hindsight, I was amazed at myself how I survived the LONG road trip with my two young kids tagging along.
This was not the first time we traveled that far. But this was the longest.
It dawned on me that maybe it’s useful to share with you what my wife and I did that helped us pull through the trip.
Please note that we are no experts in road trips. But with our own experiences traveling long distance with kids in a car, we learned some useful tips along the way.
We hope that, if you are hesitant to take a road trip of such duration, you may find some of these tips helpful. And eventually change your mind about long distance travel.
- Start your journey during nap time. On the round trip, it did help us tremendously to start the journey in the afternoon (3-4pm). That coincided with our kids’ nap time. My kids slept more than 3 quarters of the journey. That saved us some time from entertaining them in the car.
- Buckle up. To ensure the safety of your kids, no matter what happens, do not start your trip without your kids seated in car seats. No exceptions. I only allow the kids to be out of car seats when the car stopped at the rest area.
- Play games. One chunk of the traveling time was spent singing with my daughter, J. The idea came when my daughter wanted to listen to a CD but my son did not like this idea. So my wife suggested to J why not we sang together. Fortunately, J was fine with the idea. Initially we sang together and we sang out of tune on purpose. Everybody laughed in the car – even my 20-month old son, K. As for me, taking part in singing kept me awake. Later, J requested to sing alone and she sang The Wheels on the Bus with her own made-up lyrics. We really had fun doing this and forgot about the time.
- Have regular breaks. It’s important to have regular stops at the rest areas. Short breaks are good for freshening up and easing ourselves. I stopped for a few minutes every hour or so. However, we stopped longer (about an hour) for dinner. These breaks somehow helped the kids looked forward to continuing the journey as compared to sitting in the car throughout the journey without breaks. It’s good for me too as the driver to come down and stretch my body.
- Bring some snacks. When the kids were awake and not playing game, another trick we used was to feed them. That’s why we brought along their favorite food: bread and cereals. This kept them busy and from getting hungry. It’s said that a hungry man is an angry man. If you do this, you’ll have a peaceful trip when the kids are properly fed.
- Be calm and indifference. No matter how loud your child cries when you travel, don’t be influenced and agitated by your child’s act. Do not react to her unnecessarily by raising your voice or scolding her. This makes the situation worse. What I did when this happened was to remain quite and I kept telling myself to remain calm – and I don’t deny the fact that crying has destructive effects on our focus and driving. Same thing applies when some ruthless drivers cut into your lane dangerously. Remember, what you want is to take your loved ones to the destination safe and sound. Put aside your ego temporarily while you’re on the road. If you find yourself get angry easily on the road, here is an excellent article on How to Cure Your Road Rage.
- When everything else fails… Despite all the tips you have tried, sometimes you still can’t have a peaceful drive. K was crying during some parts of the trip. I thought he was making a fuss and testing our limits. Upon further checks, he was not feeling well in the stomach. He needed to find some comfort from us. For moments like this, you have to stop the car and soothe your child. Only when she’s calm and happy, you continue the trip. We did the same to K. We talked to him and assured him. We cleaned up for him. Then he was happy to let us continue while he sat in the car seat quietly.
For more Works for Me tips, head over to Shannon’s Rocks in My Dryer.