I am no stranger to long drives with my kids, but now that we are back on the east coast, we will frequently be cruising 95 for a quick 17+ hours at a time. If you know us at all, we are Sunshine State people. The beach is our favorite place to be. The warmth makes us happy. So, here we are making our second trip down, this time for about a month of glorious summer heat.
If you are thinking about tackling a rather long drive, or perhaps a flight, with kids on board, I have a few ideas to help the hours pass by with minimal whining.
Take These Hacks and Love Them.
When we were in our minivan, there wasn’t a spare inch to use for organizing things other than behind the seats. Now that we’ve upgraded life to include Roxy (our max SUV), we have extra seats that are coming in handy. Having anything and everything your kids may need within an arm’s reach is clutch for sanity.
I found seat organizers that hold iPads, headphones, sunglasses, chargers, etc and hung 4 for easy access. The organizers that sit between the kids stay in place with the buckle and hold EVERYTHING else: books, games, snacks, wet wipes, tissues, even extra water bottles. They are amazing for keeping the floor clean.
Headphones and Wifi (And Audiobooks)
Anything over an hour is best done with wifi. I am NOT the parent that makes kids travel without screens. I also give a dose of dramamine before pulling out of the driveway. A great audiobook (heard through headphones) also makes hours fly by for kids.
Another score for this trip were lap desks that store perfectly between the seats and fold open to the perfect height for toddlers in the car seat or big kids in a regular seat belt. They open and can hold a few workbooks or coloring books, small toys, crayons, etc. The kids LOVED them.
Magnets have been around forever, but people are getting more creative with them. These tins are the cutest! I bought monsters, aliens, mer-cats(?), fairies, and more. Amazon then so greatly suggested this magnetic tic-tac-toe game – and y’all… IT IS SO MUCH FUN. We have actually brought it with us to the pool and beach to play the dice version.
I swear that these tiny cubes are the most played with item we have ever brought on a trip. Every aged kid is obsessed with them. YOU NEED THESE.
Wipe off books, mazes, coloring, and no-mess markers make for easy fun while traveling. Bigger kids can add wrap-ups, flash cards, or school work to the mix.
These travel boxes are worth the money. My kids sorted their legos by color and size before packing them for the trip. They were able to build on the drive – and it made for a great activity to bring into the house once we arrived.
I hung 1 trash bag in each row of Roxy and then emptied it at every rest stop. We made it 13 hours the first day and had zero mess to clean up when pulling in to the hotel.
Every kid needs a pair of sunglasses within reach.
Water and Snacks
You already know that I had homemade gluten and dairy free protein muffins made for the trip, but I also invested in Tupperware for each kid with wraps, veggies, and hummus cups so lunch would be super easy. I packed 4lbs of strawberries that were consumed by only 1 kid by hour 6 of day 1. (I’m not kidding.) Make sure you also portion snacks into baggies to handout along the trip. Popcorn, trail mix, and veggie straws are our favs.
Overnight Hotel Backpack (dirty clothes bag)
The best hack I can give a family traveling and stopping for a night is this: BRING ONE BAG. That’s it. We pack everything for 6 of us into one backpack (plus a bathroom bag and our supplements/snacks that could melt). Everything else stays in the car. (Never leave anything of value behind, though.)
Don’t forget to give everyone their own colored duffle bag!
Think of anything that will just make life easier: Collapsable toothbrushes, personal bathroom travel bags, etc.
Before you leave for your trip, have activities already booked. Summer camps fill up fast, but calling to explain you are from out of town may help you grab a spot. We found a surf camp for the four oldest, dive classes, waterski lessons, and a weekly art class to enjoy. Look for museums, zoos, and parks, too. Have a loose schedule for the days that aren’t structured so no one has a reason to say they are bored.
If anyone dares to utter those two words (I’m bored), pull out those summer school workbooks and somehow the boredom will disappear!
(If all else fails, throw a kid in a pool)
Head over to my Facebook page for links to all of these fun items!!