One of the biggest concerns I had about taking a vacation to Chincoteague, Virginia, last summer was the long road trip with our three young kids – a baby and twin three year olds. Traveling from Indianapolis, IN to Chincoteague, VA is a 12 hour drive, without any stops. And when you have a baby who is exclusively breastfed and doesn’t take a bottle, you know there will have to be some stops. Fortunately, on the the way there we stopped in West Virginia, at one of Josh’s uncle’s houses, and didn’t have to drive the whole thing in one. However, we decided that we’d drive the entire thing in one go on the way back home. And it took us over 14 hours to do it. It was a long road trip with kids!
So, how did we survive 14 hours in a car with a newborn and twin three year olds?
The truth is we actually had a great time with little to no complaining or problems. I, myself, am still amazed!
Tips for Taking Long Road Trips with Toddler and Babies
1. Prep them with mini road trips ahead of time.
I think it is very fortunate that we had taken our girls on shorter road trips previous to this all-day extravaganza. We had taken them twice from Indianapolis, IN to Louisville, KY and back in a day, a two-hour road trip each way. We were able to see first hand how they handled being in the car for two hours. And our kids saw that they were able to do it too.
2. Hype them up about the destination.
A long road trip is worth the hours in the car, when you realize the awesome place it will take you to! My girls would shout “Beach! Beach! Beach!” and we would do it with them, pumping alternate fists into the air, promising them that the car ride would take them to an exciting place called “The Beach.” And it did not disappoint as they still talk about this vacation, the ocean, and the beach a year later.
3. Bring toys for in the car.
We had the girls pack their little backpack full of some of their favorite toys. That way they’d be easy to reach in the car. We made sure they packed their favorite toys, and items easy to play and pretend with while sitting in a car, like a Pocket Etch A Sketch, tracing cards, and water coloring books. It also got them excited to pack their own little bag for the trip!
4. Play car games.
Really, with young kids, you can just point out object you pass, play games where you look for certain colored cars/trucks, stick your hands up in the air when you go over bridges, hold your breath past graveyards, and any number of made-up on-the-spot silly games. Kids are great in that a challenge or something silly can easily entertain them. Plus, some of these can be fun learning experiences too.
I also found this Road Trip in a Box kit from The Dating Divas and it looks amazing fun and easy!
5. Bring the portable DVD player.
We went ahead and bought a portable DVD player before this trip, and at a great price. When our kids (the older two) started getting riled up and crazy, then we knew it was time to put in a movie. Because, there’s only so many hours of screaming children in a confined space that you can take before going nuts on a long road trip with kids.
6. Let them be bored.
And honestly, just let them be bored. You don’t always have to have a movie playing, or be singing a song, or playing a game. We bought a dual screen portable DVD player that mounted to the back of our headrests, and our three year olds did watch some movies, but I think they only watched two on either of the long road trip travel days, so the vast majority of our all-day road trips were relatively quiet.
Let your kid be bored. It’s okay! Silence is amazing. Let your child just look out the window, look up at the sky, check out people in passing cars, check out their shoes, or take a nap. Let them be bored on road trips!
And that’s it! We are simple people with simple tips! But, it worked! We had a great experience taking a road trip with kids!
But, what are your travel tips for taking road trips with kids?
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