Road Trips with Small Children: 6 Survival Tips
We just did a major road trip with two littles, it was 12 hours of driving each way. My in-laws so graciously drove us and allowed us all to pile into their large vehicle. My hubby and his family grew up living several hours away from a major city, so they did road trips with their kids, often, I think I’d say at least once a quarter.
So basically I shared my anxieties with my mil, and she helped me process how in the world we could manage a major road trip with two littles and have fun doing it. Ya know what? It was fun!! We enjoyed ourselves, the kids did great and we did it with a severely restricted diet!
All this advice I credit to my in-laws, we ask for advice and help from our parents often, they paved the road for us and I seriously don’t believe in recreating the wheel, especially when I don’t feel I have to. (I guess this is the teacher in me.)
Leave early! 4:30am we were on the road, everyone was sleeping except the first shift driver, who listened to an audio book, to keep himself entertained. We grabbed the kids in their jammies, threw them in the car seat and they just kept on sleeping, for probably a good two hours.
We stopped for breakfast, after 2-3 hours at a park. We glanced at where we might want to stop, a semi-large town, then used google maps to find a park, and many of them even have pictures online with them, so picked a nice one to stop at, while we ate breakfast and the kids played to their heart’s content. We also drove through a Starbucks drive-thru to give the adults the coffee fix, we all needed!
Food, we packed it all ourselves, in a cooler, yes we may have lived on a lot of gluten-free bread sandwiches, fruit, hummus, veggies, nuts and protein bars. At least that was breakfast and lunch.
Drove another 2-3 hours, then stopped at an indoor activity area. Since we were driving in the middle of July, parks in the mid-late afternoon just weren’t comfortable. So we picked an even larger city, and used google maps to find an indoor activity area. We just searched “indoor playground” or even “kids museum” something along those lines for the next stop
Drive another 2-3 hours, then stop for dinner and stay the night at a hotel. We opted to not drive more than 6-8 hours in a day, for everyone’s sanity. We checked into our hotel, ate the dinner, that we made the night before, to eat on the road (instead of trying to eat at a restaurant). Also, stay at a hotel that has an indoor pool. This burns off the kids energy so well, after a day of driving. We also looked for a hotel that offered a free continental breakfast, where we can at least get coffee and fruit in the morning, and actually when you bring in your own milk (coconut milk for family) we could eat some other thing like pre-packaged cereals, where we could read the label. Then we asked the kitchen staff about some of the meat options, so we could also load up on those.
In the car, we prepared an activity every hour for each kid, would have been ideal, but we only did this for my older one. I pulled some toys from our toy rotation, but we also bought some new things she’d never seen specifically for the ride.
**Just so you know, here is what we were working with as far as our diet.
Me- no gluten, dairy, egg or soy
Alana- no soy
Hubby- no gluten
Lucia- no gluten, dairy, egg, soy, almonds, hazelnuts, tomatoes, avocado, citrus fruits, turkey, oats, eggs or raspberries
MIL- no gluten, dairy or eggs (only certified gluten-free)
FIL- he’s a trooper- he’s “normal” which is so over-rated ;-)
So you can understand why eating out might not only be expensive but VERY complicated. The moral of the story is, if we can take a successful road trip, with all our allergies, and two kids under 3, you can too!!!