Saturday, September 1, 2012

A (Mostly) Stress Free Road Trip With Young Children



If you've been wondering what's happened to me I'm still around! I haven't died from lack of sleep or gotten carpal tunnel from changing 6 poopy diapers before 10 am yet (and yes that does happen). 

A few weeks ago I got a call from my mom that my grandmother (who has stage four breast cancer) wasn't doing very well. So my husband rearranged his work schedule so we could visit while we still had the chance. He worked six, twelve hour days in a row (as did I) so we could go. I packed mine and the kids clothes, loaded the car, baked banana bread to cheer up a friend, and cleaned the whole house the day we left. I drove into town and picked my husband up from work and he was impressed. He wasn't sure I would make it and fully expected to get himself home and leave the next day. I was maybe a little bit proud of myself.



The key to this little road trip's success was planning. It's a twelve hour trip from our house to my mom's house so we decided to stay at a hotel overnight halfway there. My husband gets off work right around their bedtime. I knew they wouldn't be falling asleep until a bit later than normal so I gave them all snacks and when they finished those I sprayed their feet with Rescue Remedy.

Every time we got in the car on this trip it was either bedtime or naptime for my kids. And every time we got into the car I sprayed their feet with Rescue Remedy to promote relaxation and sleep (and to prevent the screaming/ sleep fighting that all parents dread during a road trip). It had about a 95% success rate for us which was pretty great.



We arrived at our hotel around midnight and had another success in transferring all of them into bed. We like to stay at Holiday Inn Express when we travel with our littles. We get the suite with two queen beds and a pull out couch so there is plenty of (affordable) room . All of the ones I have stayed at have been super clean, have comfortable beds, decent breakfast, and a key component to our plan...a pool. (this is my own opinion and not sponsored by Holiday Inn) Be sure to sign up for their reward program if you stay with them.


The next morning we woke up and took our time. We fed the kids breakfast at the hotel and packed up. The plan was to take the littles swimming (to wear them out) and put them into the car right at naptime (which also happened to be check out time). It worked like a charm... they got in the car after swimming, had a snack, got their feet sprayed with Rescue Remedy and were out.



By the time they woke up it was just about time to feed them dinner. This was the first and only meal we stopped for on the way there. Taking five people out to eat can get pretty pricey (especially if your babies are big eaters like mine are).

We look up places where kids eat free and go there. Eat Out With Kids is a great website & app resource for finding a free or very cheap place to feed your kids. And kids always eat free at Sweet Tomatoes / Soup Plantation (kids 2 & under), CiCi's Pizza (3 & under), Snappy Tomato (under 5), Golden Corral (3 & under), and Shoney's (3 & under). Always call before you show up though to make sure they are still honoring these offers.

From dinner on (they fell asleep maybe an hour before our destination) was our longest period of awake time in the car.

While the kids did watch some TV, I try really hard to limit it. My kids are not used to watching movies in the car so they did not expect it. To prevent melt downs over turning it off we would schedule potty breaks at the time the movie would end. That way when we got back into the car we would start something new.

One of the best substitutes for television (and a huge hit with my kids) are audio stories or books on tape. You can rent books on tape from most libraries for free. You can download audio stories from Story Nory for free. You can buy them from The Story Home for about $.99 each (Although they have a free podcast. While I don't appreciate everything that comes out of Focus on the Family they do have an app (iphone and android) with free Adventures in Odyssey audio stories that we do enjoy.  Story Nory & The Story Home also have paid apps for IPhone.



But hey if you use the TV more power to you. You gotta do what you gotta do to keep your kids happy. We are doing this all over again in a few months so I would love to know any of your travel tips for kids. Feel free to leave them in the comments below... and as always no captcha's or hoops to jump through.

10 comments:

  1. We love books on tape when traveling! Thanks for the links to the story websites, I will definitely be checking those out.

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  2. Great tips! We don't travel much with our 5 kids. In fact, we decided not to make a 6 hour trip to Virginia for a funeral because the kids aren't used to that kind of traveling. However, if I had known about Holiday Inn Express that might have changed things. My biggest struggle is that with 7 people, I think we would need 2 rooms. I'm not comfortable with that.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Barb! You could easily fit 7 people into the suite at Holiday Inn Express. There is even room for a blow up mattress or two if 2 king beds and a pull out couch were not enough. I would not feel comfortable in separate rooms either.

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  3. Thanks for the great info and sharing those sweet little faces at The Gathering Spot this week.

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  4. New follower from the Linky Party hop! I felt like I was reading about my own life while reading this post. Between my husband and myself we have 5 children. He wants to go on road trips. Me? Not so much. :-/

    I look forward to reading more of your blog! Come by and see us sometime!

    A Corso In The Kitchen
    http://acorsointhekitchen.blogspot.com/

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    1. I understand. Vacations are not really vacations for parents. At least those of us with multiple young children.

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  5. Hi, showing up from Multiples and More. Every time we make a road trip, we learn new coping mechanisms. The kids are now facing forward and I think it kept them too stimulated to nap in the car like they normally do. That Rescue Remedy sounds like something I need to find!

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    1. That's interesting. I've had better luck with mine forward facing. But all children are different. We are traveling again in a month so I assume I will have a part 2 to this post by then. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  6. I'm featuring your post with tomorrow's link-up, so thanks for stopping by and sharing the awesome advice. :)

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    1. thanks so much! i'm glad you found it helpful.

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