Some friends think we’ve lost it, others gape in awe – but road trips (really outrageously long road trips) are just a way of life if you want to be a Diapered Knight. It is no secret that I hate to fly. I am not afraid of crashing or disaster, but it is the thought of being in that confined seat for hours without being in control that sets me into panic. That being said, taking a road trip with kids twice a year is Hubs idea…20 hours in the car, no stop ’til paradise.
I’m not going to lie, 20 hours in a car can be anxiety producing, especially when you have a crying baby and (as was the case during one trip) a preschooler screaming, “Help me! My tummy hurts! I need a potty!” with no rest stop in sight (Note: the stomach flu hit him the next day, see this post. Also note: when we pulled off at the rest stop, he fell asleep as we pulled into the gas station. We let him sleep.)
We’ve now made the trip together at least a dozen times: alone; with 2 dogs; with 2 dogs and a baby; with 2 dogs and a toddler; with one dog, a baby, and a toddler, and most recently with a baby, a preschooler, a Kindergartener, and a dog. Given our experience, we have a few tips for traveling with your motley crew across the US…
Keep the End in Sight – and Avoid Lots of “Sightseeing”
Although it seems like it would be really fun to stop at all those roadside attractions and novelties (Hello, South of the Border and Indian River fruit stands!), it is best just to keep moving. The more you stop, the more time your kids will spend in the car. Suck it up, torture yourself for a day or two and get it over with…if you can. That is, unless the purpose of your trip is to sightsee – in that case sightsee away!
Use this Mathematical Formula to Track Your Progress
Try to average 200 miles every three hours with stops. That is slightly below the speed limit for most of I-95. But, to keep on that time, you’ll need to get your family moving at the stops. Our routine is: Hubs starts gas pump, I go to the bathroom, Hubs takes the two oldest boys to the bathroom and grabs any needed nourishment, I change the baby’s diaper and let him stretch, someone with a free hand walks the dog while the other person puts away the gas hose. This all happens in 5 to 10 minutes, depending on if the dog needs the walk.
Decide Who Will be the Driver and Who Will be the Clown
Road trips require teamwork when you are traveling with kids. One of us drives while the other is a circus act for the kiddos – organizing portable art projects, leading sing alongs, watching movies, getting snacks, etc. The parent in charge of entertaining has just as hard of a job as the one who has the tedious role of staring at the road and fighting traffic.
Don’t Give Up – You Can Survive a Road Trip with Kids in Tow
When all else fails – distract (or bore) your kids until they fall asleep. In our car, we talk about literacy research and listen to reggae. A few minutes of that and both kids are snoozin’ away. Remember, it is all worth it in the end when Paradise is Found.