Road Trip: Traveling with kids to make your journey a little easier

9:58 AM

Traveling is always fun, add kids to the mix and the travel part can get a bit dicey unless you can come up with ways to keep you kids occupied while you drive.

We have Seven children, four of which , well five actually who are still at home and we have been making a point to take at least a couple of small vacations a year with them, then one by ourselves. 

So how do I keep them from arguing, getting bored, asking a gazillion times " Are we there yet?" ...well it has taken years of patience, trial and error and still is not perfected. However, since We are about to embark on our next Vacation, I thought this would be a fitting topic to do today. 

This trip we are actually going on a Cruise to the Bahama's. However, to get to port is almost a 6 hour drive, and we normally take one vehicle, but this time we are taking two because not only are we taking 5 kids, we are also taking my Mom. One of the kids, not so much a kid anymore, we will have to pick up at the Airport in Charleston, SC. So it will be an adventure just to get to our final destination. 

We have decided I will drive my Mother's car with just us four girls and Chris will drive my car with the two boys and pick the third up from the Airport while we go ahead to port to get started checking in luggage. 

The boys being in a car without the girls, that will be the easy part, since Chris hates mornings, the boys are easy to deal with when the girls are not there, they don't fight or argue, so I gave him the easy part. They will occupy themselves with the radio, cell phones, and most likely sleeping, and I would say Chris will most likely allow Alek to drive a bit, because as I said, he is so not a morning person. So I get the hard part of the trip, which is with the 2 girls, who will be asking every few minutes "Are we almost there?" "How much farther?"

So my plan is this, we are leaving at 4 am. the drive is a bit less than 6 hours, but I will tell the girls we should arrive by 10:30 am, and trust me, they will watch the clock, that will eliminate many of the questions about how much farther. Also as a learning tool, I have been teaching them about Mile markers on the interstate and how they work. I also printed out two copies of directions , one for each of them, so they can have an idea of where we are, the directions also have the map on them, so they can cross off places as we drive through. 

Now this will somewhat keep them entertained, and I am sure we will sing some songs, play the license plate game and the Alphabet game as well. However, that still leaves a good 4.5 hours to cover to keep them from getting bored.

I really dislike having to stop too much, I prefer to drive as far as I possibly can without stopping. which won't be easy, even for me at 4 am because I will have my thermos of coffee as will Mom, hence the reason we have decided to leave at 4 am. The boy & Chris, will in general just be slow travelers, Chris makes frequent stops and somehow, always manages to make a short trip much longer. He, however, is in charge of being at the Airport by 10:15 am.

I limit the drinks my kids have when we are on road trips, Cassidy can drink a bottle of water in 5 hours and have to stop 8 times at the very least, therefore, she gets a small water bottle and we keep it up front, she has to ask for drinks when she wants one, and then when we get to our destination, she can have a full drink, as long as we have close proximity to a bathroom. 

So back to topic, how will I keep those girls occupied. Obviously, iPods will help as will DSi's and games, and hopefully they will be so excited about the cruise they will simply be fine with asking questions which would normally drive me insane, luckily we will have my Mom with us, who will answer as many questions as she can, and at some point will tell them no more questions.

So, in essence...they each have a backpack a trunkie bag to be exact, each packed with iPods, Nintendo Dsi's, coloring books, map & directions, and a few small snacks with a reusable water bottle. We will play the Alphabet game, the license plate game, and answer hundreds of questions. I expect Cassidy will sleep a good 2-3 hours since we are leaving so early in the morning and I will keep them up a little later the night before so they will sleep some. We will have breakfast already made to take with us, such as Bacon Biscuits, Sausage Biscuits, muffins & a cooler bag with juice, pop & cold water in each car, which eliminates stopping & spending even more money than we need too.

I always try to do this on every trip, pack food, drinks, and each kid have a bag of their own with stuff they can do to stay busy and occupied while we concentrate on getting where we are going. I would recommend this for anyone traveling with or without children, but especially with. If the trip is long, it's a great idea also to stop at a rest stop and simply have a picnic with the food you have packed and give the kids a chance to stretch their legs. We usually never stop for fast food and always have food on hand to eat so that we save money on the travel part of the trip. 

If staying in a hotel, we usually try to find one with a kitchen or mini kitchen so we can also eat in once or twice and one that offers free breakfast as well, which can save a ton of money. I always use sites such as travelocity or something like that to try to find the best deals, but usually start first with Hilton because of the rewards you can rack up and use for future trips and they also usually have rooms with kitchenettes and such. I found a great room in DC that fit all 7 of us over Christmas, with 3 beds and a pull out couch plus a small kitchen for less than $100 a night in a good neighborhood close to the pentagon and Fort Meyer.  

Travel will never be cheap, but so many way you can find to save money and to save your sanity with keeping your kids occupied while on the road. 

Can I guarantee this trip will go smoothly and we all get to where we are going? No, but I have planned as much as I can and allowed extra time for all of us in case of rain, traffic, stops, etc.

I have Birth  Certificates, I.D.'s ,  suitcases packed with proper room tags on each bag, and a last minute shopping list which includes new toothbrushes, deodorant & toothpaste so we can pack the cars the night before as well as Dramamine & sea sickness medication ( Chris spent the entire first day of out last cruise sick in bed) and the Children have never been on a cruise and with my illness, I figure better safe than sorry so I am on the hunt for those little patches you put on for each and everyone of us. 

Will I leave something behind or forget something? Of course, it always happens, but I have a list and I check it twice, usually the things that get left behind are my things because, as usual, I have not even begun to pack for myself and am rushing at last minute trying on everything so that I do not over pack like I normally do because I am in a rush. In the end, I will still over pack for myself and leave something out that I really wanted to take.

Travel & Traveling with kids, does not have to be dramatic. Good planing, a list and research will do wonders for your trip.

Points to remember:

Take along food for a picnic lunch, snacks for in the car that are not messy, a cooler bag with cold drinks and a thermos with hot coffee. Paper towels or napkins as well.

Make a small bag or backpack for each child filled with things they can do on the road to occupy themselves but be prepared to play car games with them as well.

Start planning as early as possible, research your destination & your rooms, etc and what you can and cannot bring.

Make sure to have proper documentation for everyone and an in case of emergency card with each child. 

If you do all of this, it still may not guarantee the perfect Road Trip, but it will be less stressful & less hectic & much more enjoyable for all.

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