“Mooommmm…daaaaaaad. Are we there yet?”
Oh. My. Gosh. Ask me one more time, Junior. Just ask me, and I’ll tell you where you are. I’ll give you a hint: it’s not there yet, and it rhymes with peep hubble.
Traveling with your little ones can be such a wonderful and joyous adventure. Watching their wide eyes and sweet, open faces as they gaze wonderingly out the window. Their natural curiosity and delight in adventure. Why, your children would make the perfect travel companions. You know, if it weren’t for the pesky:
Kicking your seat every thirty seconds.
Fighting with their siblings over every. single. thing.
Waiting until you pass a rest area before they tell you that they have to go.
Like, seriously, right now. No, they can’t hold it.
Asking you to sing Old MacDonald for the umpteenth time.
While you love your kiddos, and you love taking them with you on long car trips, they can quickly go from being your darling angels to on your last nerves. To avoid any major meltdowns (including yours), plan on keeping these handy tips and tricks in your back pocket while on the road. Not only can it help keep you sane, they can also help prevent someone starting their vacation completely G-R-O-U-N-D-E-D.
1) Leave no tummy empty.
Nothing can make even the kindest child turn into an untamed and wild heathen like being hungry. Not only should you pack enough child-friendly snacks for your trip (such as dry cereal, string cheese, dried fruit, and pretzels), you should also try to keep a semblance of normal mealtimes. Kids love structure, and filling up on snacks can backfire, especially if they decide they’re not actually hungry at mealtime. And that’s not a standoff you want to face on a road trip.
2) Keep them entertained.
Your children are going to get antsy and restless, and when they do, it’s open season on annoying their sibs. Games such as “Stop Hitting Yourself” and “You Started It!” become fair game when children start to get fidgety. To avoid WWIII from breaking out in your back seat, plan ahead with plenty of games and toys to keep them entertained. Interactive games like “I Spy” or “Car Bingo” can be played together, but make sure you bring other types of entertainment, too. Family friendly movies on your tablet computer, or even a coloring book, can help keep the peace.
3) Plan for several breaks.
You need to go. The kids need to go. Your dear spouse needs to go. Just go, already. Car trips should be punctuated with frequent stops, anyway, but plan on needing extra pit stops when traveling with your kids. Make sure you accommodate tiny bladders and impatient children by letting them step out and stretch their legs every hour or so. You’ll all be happier if you do so.
4) Expect someone to throw up.
It’s gonna happen. It just is. We’re not saying who’s going to be reupholstering the floor of your car with the contents of their stomach, but you should not only count on it happening, you should also plan for it. Pack motion-sickness medicine, keep saltines and ginger ale in the trunk, and have a spare change of clothes handy (for everyone, ya know, just in case). Because yes, someone’s going to be vomiting on this trip. We just hope it’s not you.
Traveling with your children does not have to be an ultimate test of your patience. In fact, if you plan ahead, it can be almost – dare we say it? – enjoyable. Just remember that your children aren’t just tiny little adults. They have needs of their own, and by accommodating them, you can help keep the worst of the tantrums at bay.
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Photo credit: Emma Bauso