We’ve always done loads of road trips. We just love hitting the road. We didn’t stop when the kids were born and, honestly, have no plans for it.
There are two main differences between road trips with and without kids: the load and the time. With kids, you just have to take a lot more stuff – be that nappies, extra change of clothes, baby snacks, toys or stroller – and time – change nappies, feed the kids, toilet stops, time to stretch the legs…
Other than that, it’s not really difficult. If your kids are ok in cars.
The reality of road tripping with kids
Jose, when he was a baby, he just couldn’t hear the car door opening and he would start screaming and carry on as long as he was in the car. Nothing worked: cellphone, DVD, toys, mom by his side, snacks, nothing. The only way to make him stop was to feed him – not doable if I was driving, and not comfortable anyway. Be that a 5 minutes drive to buy groceries or a long drive to visit someone, he would scream the whole time.
It didn’t help that Melissa and Joao were also little and became really upset at some point, so we had 3 kids under 4 screaming together.
It was awful. We even stopped driving or started making him sleep in his capsule to put him in the car asleep so we would have a little time of peace.
But eventually, it went away. He grew out of it and before he was 1 year old, we were able to travel again.
Here’s a list of kid-specific stuff we take on our car trips
- spare clothes: an extra from the clothing you’re taking, easily accessible – and for everyone. You never know who will be when someone feels sick and needs a change.
- tissue paper: we have a big box of it in the car, they are super useful for every purpose.
- plastic bags: for a car sick child, to use as a trash bag, to put dirty shoes in. Always good to have a few.
- something to entertain: it can be an mp3 player with songs they like, a DVD, an audiobook, tablets, toys or it can even be games like I spy or 20 questions. It’s good to have more than one option, especially if it’s going to be a long trip.
- snacks: we often stop by the supermarket and let them choose a few things (that aren’t chocolate or ice-cream due to the possible mess), and we also take a few pieces of non-messy fruits, like berries, grapes, mandarins.
- water: lots of water, because we know those snacks make you thirsty.
Other things we pay attention to are:
- toilet stops: everyone goes to the toilet before we leave – be that a short trip or a long one, and every time we stop. Everyone. It avoids having to stop 2-3 times in a row because someone who didn’t want to go 10 minutes ago is now bursting.
- food: Melissa can’t go long without eating, or she gets sick, so we used to remind her to eat something every now and then. She can remind herself now, but we still do it.
- random stops: kids usually see things that sparkle their interest. We make sure we stop when we realize something like this is happening so they can see whatever they want. And we use these stops to use the toilet, also.
- their behavior: you’ll be able to notice when they are in need of a stop, or a change in the subject or something new to focus on because they – at least my kids – start getting irritated by things that were ok a few moments ago. I like to intervein before they start to fight and yell. If I miss this moment and they start fighting, we need to stop and give them a break. Check if they need the toilet, food or just a break before the chaos.
- make sure the car is safe, fueled and all that, but you need to do it whether you have kids or not.
Besides all that, there’s one important tip I’d like to leave here: YOU’LL TAKE LONGER TO GET THERE, so take your time, be patient and make sure you enjoy the ride, the stops, and the amazing stuff kids say.
We love road tripping with our kids and we do it whenever we can. Our favorite trip was probably in New Zealand. Leave us a comment stating your favorite country for a road trip!