We live about eight hours away from my parents and eight hours in the other direction from my sister, so traveling with children is a must in order to see my family. We are blessed with two girls who are wonderful in the car, but no child can stay on their best behavior for eight hours.
Crayons, coloring books, play computer and doodle are all staples. As Jen mentioned in a previous post about flying with kids, buying them something new always works as well. A new coloring book or toy will keep them interested longer than normal. Zoe has a lap desk that holds crayons which is great for the car. It keeps her crayons within reach and holds her paper or coloring book in place. Zoe is pretty good about entertaining herself for periods of time with these toys. But I do have to help entertain her in intervals. Sometimes we look for different color cars or signs and see who can find them first.
We have avoided buying a DVD player for the car because we worry that our girls watch too much television as it is. We don’t want it to become a habit to turn it on everytime we get in the car. But I think we might finally invest in it but make the rule that it is only in the car when we are traveling long distances (that is the benefit of buying one after market and not permently installed in your car). I know this would help tremendously when Zoe has become disinterested in the toys we have packed. And two hours of some piece and quiet for us would be welcomed on a long journey.
We also try to plan our trip around naptimes. Since Annie still takes two naps, we leave around 8:30, which gives her an hour of being up and running around the house before we strap her into the car seat for the long road ahead. Then about an hour to an hour and a half into the trip she falls asleep for her morning nap. When she wakes up, we stop for lunch and let her run around again. And then hit the road about an hour or two before her second nap.
I remember traveling with Zoe when she had just been potty-trained. Brent wanted to put a diaper on her to make it easier on us. I didn’t want to confuse her or head in the wrong direction with our potty training efforts. I will admit that it was a longer trip than normal since we had to make several stops, but we just had to be more patient.
There are lots of things to consider when traveling long distances with kids. I am sure there are plenty of smarty moms out there that have traveled some serious miles with kids in tow. We are still fairly new to these adventures, so let us know your smarty tips.
We just drove to Boston, MA over Thanksgiving with our 2 children. We decided to try it without the DVD. The kids did great. The older one listened to her ipod and played her Nintendo DS and the younger looked at books, napped and colored. The one thing I did buy for each of them was their own pack of Crayola Color Wonder markers, paper and coloring books. This worked great.
We travel 15 hours to each set of grandparents with four kids four and under. We have it down to a science: we stop every 2 1/2 hours at a rest stop to let them run for at least 20 min., then we all sit down together on a blanket to have a snack (10 min.). This gives them some “us” time and gets some energy out. We also have a portable potty in the car for emergencies (from One Step Ahead).
We are traveling to Hawaii during the holidays–yay for us but a bit scared to see how my almost two year old twins boys will do on the LONG flight. We are thinking of keeping them in the car seat and having new toys/food items every 30 minutes or so. Any other suggestions??
We have made at least 2 eight to ten hour trips per year since our twins were born. They are now 5 1/2. We did decide to buy the after market DVD player and use it only for longer trips (2+) hours. I think we started that at age 3. We don’t watch many movies at home so the kids find this to be a very special treat. Recently, my husband and I have jointed NetFlix and if we have a trip coming up we order 2 kid movies. Our guys go to bed at 8 and have missed a lot of the Holiday specials, so we ordered Charlie Brown Thanksgiving for our trip this past weekend. Another trick is the “I Spy” books. These books, in particular, seem to hold a kid’s attention extra long. The other big “treat” the kids get on long trips is McDonalds. I can’t help but look forward to it too!!
My daughter is only 20 months old, and we drive to upstate NY twice a year. We leave at 4 am and get 4 hours until we stop for breakfast, then about every 3 hours for meals, breaks, etc. We have the DVD player in our minivan, and it really saved us this summer- I could pop in a Baby Einstein DVD and get a 30 minute break every few hours. She doesn’t get to watch TV except in the car, and only on long trips, so I am not that worried about it. Plus, it was a great “last resort” when the toys were starting to lose their effect!
Books on CD for both adults and kids. The library has a good selection.
We also travel on long (5+ hours) trips frequently. I have found that if I am calm and have my act together, the trip goes much more smoothly. Our kids tend to entertain themselves. We have a van with the built in DVD player. Our rule is it only comes on when we are on the highway (4 lanes or more). At first they asked to watch it in town, but after a couple of days, it wasn’t a problem. If you are consistent and stick to your guns traveling with kids is easy. You just have to be prepared and plan for the unexpected!!
I love to let my kids play with masking tape. They have a great time sticking it everywhere and cleanup is minimal. Probably a better idea for a plane than a car ride – but either way countless hours of very cheap entertainment.