As a family, we are lucky enough to take a few vacations during the year, all are within driving distance from our home (between two and five hours away).
As a mom, I have survived many road trips in the past nine years – exactly 72 road trips and approximately 500 hours trapped in my car with my children. Note: that tally does not include the hour long trips to the beach east of my home, or the times we get stuck in traffic going to the zoo, or heck going around the darn block.
We’ve had many road trips that were miserable, from the time I had to breastfeed while driving (yes, you read that correctly, while the car was moving) home from Maryland, to my son projectile vomiting in the car, to just being stuck in hours and hours of traffic. As a result, I have developed a few tips, tricks and strategies to survive… because, well, drinking and driving is illegal.
I really do enjoy road trips. I love packing the car, getting all set up to read my novel or the few hundred magazines I have lying around my house, navigating the open road, looking for familiar landmarks, making that one stop at our “usual” rest stop, and the non-stop catching up I get to do on all my social media networks.
But what I don’t like is getting interrupted a million and two times because my five-year-old wants to know why the sky is blue (literally) or the nine-year-old thought he saw a “red haired speckled raven that is SO not indigenous to this area.” when in fact it was probably a freaking pigeon. Although my boys are seasoned road-trippers, they are also inquisitive children who NEVER STOP TALKING.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t want to converse with my children.. I do! I LOVE the sound of their voices but after three hours of solid talking, breaking up fights, playing “I spy,” the rhyme game and all the other things I come up with to keep my children entertained, I need some quiet time. Honestly, having some time when I don’t hear their lovely voices really helps me to appreciate their lovely voices.
So here are my top five tips for surviving a road trip with children:
Have enough snacks on hand in the “little cooler” so they can gorge themselves, but not too many that you have to take numerous bathroom breaks or they vomit – that will put a damper on everything.
Have every device you own on the ready and make sure they are charged. I don’t care if you have to haul your 13 inch TV from 1980 into your car rigged up to some outlet attached to your engine, get some electronic device in that car to entertain the darn kids. The iPad, iTouch, iPhone okay anything that the ‘Great One’ (Steve Jobs) developed will keep your children from whining perhaps for the entire road trip. #winning.
Ok, this is a tricky one since not everyone can read in a car and a lot of people get sick if they read in a moving vehicle. It’s a gamble but if you think your children can handle it, make sure you have at least two books that are mandatory for them to read in the car. Most likely they will get engrossed (especially the older kiddies) and will be reading for at least a good 20 minutes before boredom kicks in.
Music makes the world go round. My children happen to love music so if you can find a good station to rock out to, go for it, or if you’re as lucky as us, hook the buggers up with some iPods (the ‘Great One’ must have thought of parents when he was creating this awesomeness) and some headphones and it’s like you won the lottery.
5. The Silent Game
This is the one game that I pull out when the going gets tough or if all else fails. This is the strongest strategy a parent can use to combat a child from talking incessantly on a road trip. But you cannot take this game lightly; you MUST set the rules before you begin:
A. No talking.
B. If anyone talks, they lose.
C. If you want to ask a question, you can’t there is no talking.
D. You can’t use any device, you can only read.
E. No fighting, mimicking, do not do anything to bother your sibling or you both will be out.
F. You can only talk if you have to vomit or go to the bathroom.
G. Whomever wins gets $5.00 bucks for the game room – bribery works every time.
H. If you fall asleep, you automatically get the $5.00 bucks for the game room – this almost a guarantee that they fall asleep. Could be a hit or miss: if you are traveling during the day you might not want them to sleep, but I could care less – go ahead and sleep five hours and stay up all night cause… we’re on VACATION!
If you don’t set out these rules before you play you will be screaming “WE ARE PLAYING THE SILENT GAME OR WE WILL TURN THIS CAR AROUND! For us, this game lasted the entire road trip. (Okay I’m lying, it didn’t last the whole trip but we did get a solid two fricking hours of SILENCE – golden!)
I’ll take your thanks in advance or hugs when you return from vacation!