We recently made the long car trip from Connecticut down to Kissammee, Florida with our four kids in tow and we definitely learned a lot from it. We had never done anything like this before, the longest trips we have taken have been to the New Jersey Shore every summer. Which is about 3 hours or so, depending on traffic. Door to door, the estimated drive time was about 20 hours, covering 1,183 miles. Yikes!
|Holy long road trip Batman!|
Drive at night.
We left on a Friday night at about 8:00pm, about two hours after dinner and a little bit after bedtime. Our thought was that the kids would sleep through the night allowing us to be able to drive for quite a few hours without a lot of stopping. Make sure your driver is rested and alert and take turns if needed. My husband slept the entire afternoon before we left so he was good and fresh. For the most part this worked perfectly. They woke up sporadically and didn't sleep soundly like they normally do, but we only had to make one pit stop for the bathroom in Maryland. By 7:00am Saturday morning we were at South of the Border in South Carolina. By 4:00pm we were in Orlando. A drive that the map says should take about 21 hours, took us 20 hours and that is with 3 stops in there. It was actually quite impressive. In contrast on the way home we left on a Saturday morning and didn't get home till Sunday night. We will never do that again.
Pack Snacks and Meals
Obviously packing a lot of snacks is a given since you can't be stopping every few hours to buy something. I packed things like granola bars, cereal bars, bananas, crackers, etc. and filled the kids stainless steel cups up with ice water. I highly suggest packing as many meals as you can as well. Having to stop for meals will cost you at least an hour if you have as many kids as I do. Even at a fast food joint. The day before we left I picked up some mini croissants and mini blueberry muffins from our Big Y supermarket for us to have breakfast Saturday morning in the car. While we stopped at South of the Border for gas, we enjoyed breakfast and were back on our way within minutes. On the way home I packed sandwiches for lunch.
Keeping the kids entertained and preventing them from becoming bored is the biggest challenge of a long trip like this. Each of our children had a backpack next to their car seats which included one small toy of their choosing, Star Wars travel coloring pack (mini coloring book, stickers and crayons) and Star Wars mini notebooks, both from the target $1 spot, plus their handheld video games. My 7 year old has a Nintendo DS and the others have Leapsters.They really didn't do any coloring, but the video games did keep them busy for a good amount of time.
Movies. Movies. Movies.
Prepare for Sickness
One of our twins is prone to car sickness and unfortunately has thrown up in the car a few times over the years. Trust me when I tell you that cleaning that out of the nooks and crannies of a car seat is no fun at all. Even if none of your children have a history of car sickness, its best to be safe and prepare just in case. Anything can happen on such a long trip. My little puker sits right behind the passenger seat so that gives me easy access to him. I took a medium sized, plastic mixing bowl from our kitchen and double lined it with grocery bags. I also grabbed a handful of replacement bags. The bowl was in arms reach of me at all times. Sure enough, just two hours into our ride he got sick but because I had my bowl ready, there was no mess. Thankfully he warned me it was coming and I got the bowl right under his mouth. I tied up the bags and when we stopped for gas, into the trash it went.
Make Time for Learning
Making the decision to drive a long distance with little kids probably borderlines on insane. Because it is insane. But if I can do it, anyone can do it. These were just a few things that helped save us time and our sanity on our journey to and from Florida last week. I hope they can help you on your next trip.
Have you ever taken a long car trip with kids? What are some things that worked well for your family?
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