“Are we there yet?” Susie asks me at least once on every trip. It doesn’t matter if I am driving 5 minutes down the road to Meijer, or 14 hours to Disney World. Over the years, hundreds of trips running errands, and several long car drive to family vacation destinations I have learned a few tricks to making the trip much more enjoyable for all.
- Plan out the flow of the trip as much as possible before you go. Do you want to leave at bed time? In the middle of the night? First thing in the morning? Right after lunch? When you decide to leave starts the flow of the trip. I personally like leaving right at bedtime the best because my girls just sleep through the trip, traffic is much lighter, and my husband and I switch drivers around 3 am. If that doesn’t work for you though don’t worry. We’ve had several very successful trips leaving at all of the other times as well.
- Gas up the night before you are leaving, and run any last-minute errands. I know it sounds like a little thing but all of those 5 minute stops add up to more time in the car for everyone.
- Seating – Whenever we go on a long drive, ie. an hour or more we have one adult sit in the back with the girls. This helps divvy up the responsibilities of the adults in the car. The driver drives, and doesn’t have to worry or stress about what is going on in the back seat because he/she knows the person in the back has it under control.
Packing the car
- Place as much stuff in the trunk as possible without impairing the driver’s view or use of mirrors. I like to think of it as a game of Tetris, what can I fit where? Keeping the stuff in the trunk makes the passenger area feel more open. There is nothing worse than traveling for long periods of time in close quarters that are jam-packed with stuff. It’s enough to make anyone feel claustrophobic.
- Find all those little hidden places inside the car to pack things. For example, both of my girls are still rear facing so there is dead space on the floor between the back of the front seats.
- Make things easily accessible inside the car. For example the person sitting in the back with girls usually sits in the third row of our mini van in the middle of the bench seat, with the toy bag on one side and the snack bag on the other.
- Snacks – I try to limit snacking as much as possible, and divvy them out according to the flow of the trip. I know the more my oldest consumes the more she will need to use the restroom.
- Limit stopping – I know it sounds convenient to stop here and there along the route, but unless you’re planning to take a couple of days to your destination I don’t recommend it. Getting my girls back in the car and settled is much harder the longer they have already been in the car.
- Choose your stops wisely – Whenever we stop for a meal we always try our hardest to pick a place with a play area for the kids to burn off some energy.
- Do everything in one stop. I know this sounds obvious, but seriously have everyone do everything in one stop. Whenever we stop, we always fill up for gas even if the tank is only half empty. I never know when the girls are going to decide to nap, and NEVER stop if the girls are sleeping. Everyone goes to the bathroom twice, once when we first stop, and again before we load back into the car.
- Last but certainly not least is toy regulation. I always let the girls choose a few toys they want to bring on the trip, but then I also pull out a few toys/books that I have had put up. This allows the girls to have some choice over what they bring but I also know there are going to be toys they haven’t played with in a while to entertain them. We always bring along our electronic toys as well, but their use is very limited. I always hold them back for the last leg of the trip.
Driving on a long road trip with my girls has become an adventure that everyone in the family no longer dreads but that everyone enjoys.