How to Travel in a Car with a 5-Year-Old and a 1-Year-Old for Days without Losing Your Mind

travel with kidsWhen my husband suggested we drive instead of fly across the country for our family vacation to visit family, my first reaction was not pretty. I can’t recall if I laughed at first or yelled my expressions of disbelief, but once I knew my husband was serious, I took a lot of convincing. Despite the much cheaper cost of driving 1300 miles two directions versus flying, I just could not believe it would end well.

It turns out that we could travel for days in the car and it was okay! I panicked and planned like crazy in the weeks before we left, and I ended up with far more than I needed! I hope some of my ideas might help you too in your travels.

We drove there in two days (leaving at 4:30 am and driving 12 hours of the trip the first day, with frequent stops). On the way home to Chicagoland, it took three days (we did not leave as early, so we did not get as far each day before we had to stop and rest for the night).

Well, the driving experience turned out okay. Even with 20 hours in the car there and 22 on the way back (we drove a slightly different way home), it was not complete agony. We actually had some nice family time. And my two kids did okay too. Raisin is 5 and a half, and reading well on his own. He thought it would be an adventure to see all the different states we drove through, and although he did become bored, he had plenty of entertainment. Strawberry is 15 months old. I cannot say she was happy to be strapped in her car seat for so many hours, but she, too, survived to tell the tale.

Here are some things I did to prepare.

  • I downloaded some simple freebies from TPT (as I mentioned yesterday). These I separated into packets, a few pages on a subject in each to keep him interested as the trip went along.
  • I created my Road Trip Games product for my son. I also separated a few of these pages in to each packet. These are less “educational” and simply fun. I was surprised by how uninterested he was in some of them, but it was nice to have a template that said, “play tic-tac-toe” and so forth for the one or two games that we did do. He liked looking for BANANA cars best of all, and he’s still playing the licence plate game.
  • I packed some fun snacks that I don’t usually purchase.
  • I stocked up on Emesis bags (yes, some of them were used) and child Dramamine.
  • I created Blank Slate board books for my baby with family pictures on them. I  made sure to put baby pictures of everyone in the books as well so she could squeal “BABY!” as she turned the sturdy pages.
  • I bought a baby mirror for my baby to be able to see herself as we drove. (No kidding, she actually played peek-a-boo with herself!)
  • I packed a change of clothes for each child in an easy-to-read place.

Yes, we were all very tired of driving by the end of this trip. But with a little preparation, it was a fun family time, instead of a terror. If I hadn’t had the worksheets and other things, I’d have been pretty sad on day 1 when my son couldn’t get his video on his tablet to work!

What do you do to keep your kids busy when the electronics fail?

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