I have traveled with my family on a 50 hour road trip to the East Coast. We have driven from Iowa to Utah without staying at a hotel (20 hours). I have traveled from Las Vegas to Iowa with four kids, without a husband (24 hours!) with two hotel stays.
What I’m saying is I have some travel tips for anyone prepping for summer trips.
- Keep gum/tic tacs/breath mints handy. They are easy to pass around and keep mouths busy (and quiet!)
- Hold out on screens as long as you can. We have found that the kids are pretty good at self entertaining but when they are about to lose their minds, we haven’t overused the screens and they save the day!
- Pack each kid a suitcase/backpack for separate hotel stays. That way you don’t have to bring a huge suitcase in to every hotel. They are in charge of their backpack, if they are old enough. Keep toiletries in your own bag.
- Stay at a hotel with breakfast and a pool!! We swim no matter how late we get in to get extra energy out. And it’s nice to not have to find a place for breakfast.
- Hit up the dollar store for a few fun surprises. I went today for an upcoming trip and got some new coloring books, travel games and pop rocks! Those are good entertainment. Break them out every once in awhile when things are starting to get dicey.
- Let the kids play DJ. They get to choose three songs in a row but if they’re causing fights, you can skip the fighting kid. Unless it makes more fights!
- Find fun and unusual things to do along the way. We have stopped for the first Pony Express Station, special rivers and a sign in Nebraska that says, “You are nowhere”. It makes things a little more fun.
- Books on cd saved us on our journey to Connecticut (50 hours in the car in two weeks). Our DVD player broke, so Harry Potter kept us company. Jim Dale is the best narrator. I have a hard time listening to other narrators because he is so good! Your local library most likely has a good selection of books on cd.
- We’re trying glow sticks for the first time this trip. We’ll be getting in pretty late so that might be fun or backfire pretty bad.
- We have done three strikes and you’re out when things get hard with fighting. We tell the kids we are going to get some kind of surprise from an ice cream shop or gas station or something and if they have three strikes, they don’t get the surprise. It usually works.
- We make Nutella sandwiches for lunch and stop at a park when we can to run around. Saves money on meals and kids have a great time.
Just do your best to make it a good time. Our kids have loved our road trips. They are one of their favorite memories, even the non stop trips. And sometimes they watch too many movies but sometimes you just have to make it through, so no guilt. We aren’t all The Partridge Family (wow, I’m old). The first time we did the journey out West, I over prepared and had a big mess to deal with. Now, we just have the kids pack their own “bags of fun stuff to do” and they are supposed to keep it picked up. It mostly works. Hope these tips help and you have a great adventure!
Left: The first Pony Express Station! Right: Staying at a semi creepy hotel and survived.