In May of 2014, our darling third child was born.
In June of 2014, we drove 14 hours to Disney.
Suffice it to say – we were tired.
To prepare for the drive, I spent hours on Pinterest during the middle of the night feedings coming up with fantastic ideas for entertaining our then five and three-year-old (we left the newborn with grandma). I assembled baggies of activities. I even had my husband make cookie sheets into trays that connected to their carseats with velcro.
I just knew this would a fantastic travel experience!
Somewhere in Louisiana we stopped and bought a DVD player for the car.
The pipe cleaners spilled and the beads scattered and the Playdoh got carpet fuzz in it and the stickers were put on the car windows and on and on.
Oh, and our three-year-old son started running a fever.
That trip completely changed my mentality about travel with kids.
Our family now has only one rule and this is it:
Do what works.
If that means letting your kids watch the same Daniel Tiger episode on repeat for three hours straight, do it.
If that means giving all of your kids Dramamine but still keeping several Rubbermaid containers within arms reach, do it.
If that means packing special snacks and tossing them to the back of the Suburban to push on for one more hour before stopping, do it.
All moms love the idea of having kids that sit and play with pipe cleaners for hours, eat organic gluten free Sun Butter and jelly sandwiches without smearing it all over everything, and speak kindly to each other when asking for another kale chip.
And if this describes your family that is so awesome.
Stop reading now because you have everything figured out, and there is absolutely nothing I can help you with.
Because I don’t have it all figured out, and every single road trip makes me regret even leaving the house.
My oldest daughter HATES sleep and will fight it until she is delirious. This rules out traveling at night while the kids sleep because she is nocturnal.
My oldest son is actually a crotchety 71 year old trapped in a six year old’s body. Traveling with him means enduring complaints shouted at an unnecessarily high volume that include gems such as “sore bones” and “loud kids.”
My youngest daughter gets carsick. Which sounds normal enough, but somehow she always takes us by surprise. And even if we manage to get her to vomit into a container instead of all over herself, we still have to endure the smell. *gag*
Our youngest son is one and is a total X factor. There have been trips that he’s entertained himself with a single Little People policeman for hours and trips that he’s been discontent with every toy we packed.
This is what the Anthony family is working with, so we do whatever it takes to simply make it to the destination.
In our case, we have three DVD players with headphones and a ton of DVDs. We give all the kids Dramamine because throw up is disgusting and inevitable without it. We drive as fast and far as we can until the kids are losing their collective mind. Then, we stop at a Chick-fil-A so they can play, and we can eat some delicious chicken. Then we get back in the car and start over.
This is what works for us in this season of life.
So, figure out what works for your family.
We cleaned vomit out of carseats at least a dozen times before we figured out that these Rubbermaid containers worked best for catching and containing it.
And despite all the difficulties of traveling with kids, I still think it’s worth it to take trips together. It’s worth it to travel to see family or go on an adventure together. Vacations are a necessary part of life, so we push through the travel time to get to the location.
Worst case scenario: you have a ton of really great family stories.
Every time we drive past a particular gas station in Temple, our oldest daughter points it out to remind us of the time her little sister threw up 45 minutes from home and 6 hours from the beach.
And then 45 minutes from the beach house and six hours from home.
I’m sure as they get older, some of it will change.
But not all of it.
Because the point of traveling with kids is to get us all to the destination safely.
The journey isn’t something we can enjoy much right now, and honestly, I’m okay with that. I’ve never been much for road trips.
Maybe someday we will want to just drive across the U.S. or at least purposely go slowly to enjoy the sights. But if that day comes, we will need to drive something better than a fourteen year old Suburban that smells of Cheerio dust and gym socks.
What are your tips for traveling with kids?