We just spent a week traveling with twin 13 month olds. There were many memories made & captured … and some rough lessons learned.
Before we left several people gave us good advice & we learned some stuff while being away from home. My understanding is that as children grow the rules of thumb also change, so for today:
What are your best tips for traveling as a family?
You can link to articles that have been helpful or post your own comment.
The biggest thing we realized, traveling on two sundays, is that there are not too many indoor playgrounds (or playground) at resterants. Chick-fil-A is abotu the only consistant one & they are closed on sunday … so we are going to try to avoid traveling long distances on Sundays.
We did end up running around a Bass Pro Shop & Books A Million this last trip.
I just drove 11 hours to Nashville, TN for Thanksgiving with a 1 yr old in the car. The best advice I can give with that is, travel during times when they are supposed to sleep. That way, you don’t have a screaming kid in the back seat the whole time.
Laurie Nation says
*We learned that trips with kids take at least 50% longer than most people would allow for the distance. If you know this, it’s not as frustrating when it happens.
*Every time you stop, EVERYBODY gets out of the car and goes to the bathroom. Even if they don’t NEED to go, they probably CAN go. That way, nobody’s desperate ½ hour down the road.(Doesn’t apply to you right now, but keep it in mind). AND everybody gets to stretch a bit.
*When I was a kid, we stopped every hour for 5 minutes. As a parent, 1½-2 hours worked better (especially when the kids were older). Stops took ½ hour or more. (If everybody takes a nap at the same time — you hit the jackpot! Just be sure you limit your fluids till they wake up. ;~) )
*It’s counter-productive to try to make the trip at night while the kids sleep. Somebody will have to be awake when you get there exhausted & your kiddos are refreshed. :~)
*Rest Stops are great. There’s usually a walk up to the bathrooms, limited things to spend $ on, and more paths to walk on if you need more exercise. Also grassy areas. And picnic tables.
*Make sure you won’t need to stop soon for gas before you hit the Rest Stop. Look for gas stations with a grass lot beside it.
*Take along some active toys for the stops. Frisbee, ball, whatever. Rollerblades were popular in our family (when people were older).
*I liked Malls. Walking out of the weather to the Food Court, choices for food, walking back to the car … all things that can help get the wiggles out!
*Don’t try to ‘Conquer The Trip’. Look out the windows. Talk about what you see. Be willing to stop and explore when something looks interesting. (Turn around at the next exit if you have to.) Travelling isn’t just about ‘getting there’. Take the time to make the WHOLE trip the adventure.
The biggest mistake we made was taking advantage of the “small babies sleep all the time” thing and driving really far while the girl slept. When we got to the hotel, all she wanted to do was run around and all we wanted to do was rest/sleep.
On the trip home from that same trip, we made the commitment to get out of the car no later than 6pm so we could just run her around crazy and wear her out. Worked perfectly. It was great for a trip that can be broken into two 6-ish hour driving runs (with a 1-hour lunch break and a 1-hour gas break). State welcome centers are usually the best rest stops. The ability to go to an inside area is great when the weather is undesirable (cold, rainy, etc.).
I travel for work so I’ve accrued a lot of hotel points that I use for free rooms on trips.
Don’t be afraid to sit in the back seat with the kid(s). Sometimes just having you back there is enough of a change to take the edge off. Being trapped in a car seat is probably pretty horrible, and none of us grew up in the age of super-restrictive car seat laws.
Vitamins, vitamins, vitamins! It’s nearly impossible to avoid exposure to illness when you’re traveling through lots of different places. Do your best to wash hands, use wipes, alcohol goo, whatever, but count on the possibility of being sick. Carry thermometers, children’s/infant’s tylenol, etc.
If you stop, get the kid(s) out of the car and have them run around.
Laurie Nation says
Good point about stopping by 6 and running the kid, William. We found stopping for the night at supper to be really helpful. Places with indoor pools were great for out multi-stage family. (Always pack swimsuits. They don’t take up much room.)
Changing up the seating arrangement is good, too, if there’s space. (Two car seats can make that one tough for Jonathan right now.) It accomplished 2 things for us — change of ‘scene’ for the passengers and less chaos with travel belongings. Before changing seats, everybody had to get their stuff gathered up to go with them.