Tips for Road Trippin’ with Young Children

My husband and I recently got back from road tripping to Charleston, SC with our two young children. The drive, if driven straight through, is about 13.5 hours. Yes, read that again, 13.5 hours. We had done a similar drive with Ben, our four year old, a couple years back and it was wonderful. No one told me it was game over when you added another child to the mix.

This trip was so wonderful and insane and tiring and lovely and awful all at the same time. I hate using the word awful, but there are no better words to describe some of the time (mostly the drive).

Charleston is a beautiful wonderful city with so much to do and see. Adam and I would love to go back without kiddos one day.

The drive was about 80% fine and 20% not. You’d think those odds aren’t bad, but you’re wrong. The 20% really negated that 80%. I’m glad we did it, but we won’t do it again until they are older!

Here are my tips for anyone that is coming upon a big road trip:

  1. Don’t do it. Wait until the kids are a little older. I’m not trying to be dramatic, but at four and almost a year it was rough. We had a family wedding and so much stuff so we knew this was something we had to do. I don’t like flying. At all. But it would have been better.
  2. Bring multiple tablets. Not kidding. We had three. One was loaded with shows, one had a bunch of non educational games and one had educational games. Our four year old went through them all.
  3. Bring ALL THE SNACKS. Not just for your oldest, but for the baby as well. Without snacks we would have never made the drive in two days.
  4. Let go of the notion that you will get to your destination at a certain time. I so desperately wanted to get to Charleston by lunchtime the second day. I thought it would be easy. Ha. The universe said I don’t think so. We got there around dinner time.
  5. You’re going to have to stop. I hate this. I hate stopping. I just want to keep driving. Impossible. That first day we stopped three times. Give in and let go.
  6. Try and get separate sleeping spaces when you stop overnight. Needless to say – we didn’t get much sleep.
  7. This is obvious, but always go for the Airbnb or vrbo when vacationing. Homes are always better than hotels.
  8. While vacationing make sure that you and your spouse allow time for each of you to get out. My husband and I took turns during nap time to go out and explore on our own.
  9. Date night. We were lucky enough to have my parents there for a night to watch the kids. This allowed the two of us to recharge and have a little adult time.
  10. Look at restaurants ahead of time. A lot of places weren’t kid friendly so I looked them up to see if there was a kids menu. If there was I would make a reservation! Most places took reservations and it was a blessing!
  11. Try your best to make good memories.

As much as I say it was hard, it was really great too. When I ask Ben about it he tells me his favorite parts were the wedding (which was amazing) and our last full day. Our last full day was honestly just walking to the park, walking by the water and eating some food. It made my heart happy.

Good luck to all of you out there planning road trips with your families for spring break. Got any tips to help out other mamas?!

One thought on “Tips for Road Trippin’ with Young Children

  1. The best defense is a stellar offence,
    Prep kids for travelling long distance by retireing tablets in your daily life as far in advance of the trip. Then keep them for those near breaking points.

    Try to simulate your daily routine on travel days if you have active play mornings and you depart in the morning, try to engage your child in an activity. Eye spy, coloring, stuffed animals, 20 questions etc for that leg.
    Then lunch at an actual restaurant where you get out of the car and sit down. then nap, with a movie or screen time after that. If they’re of an age that you can talk them through these legs of the trip then do. let them know what to expect.

    Your child develops at an accelerated rate during travel in fact for every one day of travel a child will experience 3 days worth of learning.
    Stop by the dollar store and stock up on kids activities to dole out throughout travels days, wait until kiddos reach boardom before doling out perks. (But put them away during the actual trip this helps make travel days special instead of tedious for kiddos)
    Select a book on tape for the whole family to enjoy, Harry potter, Peter rabbit etc something you can all talk about and experience while your in the road gives it another pupose.

    Schedule departure for right after breakfast, or nap time, or night time. You know your family best leave when everyone is watered fed and rested, or if youve got great car sleepers take advantage of nap time on the road.

    Added to that…if your approaching nap time do a premtive pit stop everyone go to the bathroom, fill up the gas tank etc. So that you can spend that nap getting some headway.

    Welcome stations and toll rest stops are your friend, get used to twenty minute pit stops run your kids around have some face time eat, it really helps.

    Be gentle with yourself add an extra day or two to traveling with kids so you can spend extra time in your lodging without feeling like your missing out on where you are.

    Have a flexable plan of what your doing the next day so you can prep the night before.

    Designate travel responsibilities with your partner, I get the kids ready(feed dress sunblock) he gets the diaper bag and bottles ready. But we check in each night to see how we can streamline.

    Take invintiory before you go what do you need to keep some sence of consistancy for kids while traveling and what can you skip?
    We find that making sure kids have a consistanly sleep space at night helps with flexiblity during the day, we use a noise machine pillow and night light from home plus any security items. We have the kids help us set them up in our vacation home so they have some control in this new space. Then we rest better knowing that a child has auditory, tactile, and some visual sences the same as home.

    Lastly let a travel day be a travel day, I am the queen of arriving somewhere and having ten things planned. But with kids arriving and settling in is the most important thing to do. We start our exploring the next day.

    It’s alot but exposure to new experiences and places is paramount for little ones.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s