A common reaction but with a little planning, it can be an enjoyable experience. Because we drive between most of our house sits, Araya has been on many road trips.
We average between 6 to 10 hours in the car every 2 to 3 weeks, as we travel from house to house. This use to be daunting but now we have it down to an art form!
1. BE CALM
I am sure that you are reading this thinking "Really, that's the best you've got?"
Hear me out.
I have read so many articles about entertaining children while traveling, feeding them snacks, playing games etc, but we have taken a different approach.
Travel is a time for rest and relaxation and Araya has the rest of the day to play. She is often given her pacifier and sleep toys, reminders that it is resting time. If she wants to play with them that is fine, but it creates an overall atmosphere of calm.
2. POSITION YOUR CAR SEAT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BACK SEAT
Not only the safest place for a car seat, but it gives baby a view. She loves to look out of the front window and spot passing cars and trucks.
It is also easier for her to see both of us and if I need to reach her it is much more convenient.
3. TRAVEL TO YOUR CHILD'S NORMAL SCHEDULE
We try to follow the same schedule as any other day. For example, if the morning is normally play time, plan stops at rest areas or attractions along the route.
This ensures she is good and tired for her afternoon nap. She stays awake through lunch, and then we have a nice couple of hours cruising in the afternoon during nap time.
4. PLAN FOR BOREDOM, BUT PLAN WISELY
On our first few road trips, I packed too many toys. I was constantly changing them out, crawling in the back seat when they were dropped, and it caused general mayhem!
Lesson learned, only take the favorites. Now I pack 2 little cars, sunglasses and the favorite toys of the week. Having less choice brings less stress and she is happy to play with what I give her.
Trust me, you don't need as much as you think you do! If it doesn't fit in my bag, it goes in the trunk of the car.
Here are my essentials:
diapers and wetwipes
a cloth for diaper changes
a change of clothes
That's it! I know how tempting it is to want to take LOTS of things, but notice on your next journey what you actually use. You will be surprised!
6. HAVE A PLAN FOR MEALS
This is simple if you are breast feeding or giving baby food. But what about older children?
In the past we have thought we will find an open restaurant no problem and then driven for an hour waiting for something to appear. Lesson learned!
Plan your route ahead of time knowing which cities will have plenty of restaurant offerings. Alternatively, pack a back up lunch for the kids just in case. Sometimes, Araya doesn't like what is on offer at a restaurant anyway, and this way I know I have something that she will eat.
7. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN!
Plan your route, plan your stops depending on weather, plan your lunch, etc. It may sound less fun or spontaneous, but I have actually found traveling to be a lot less stressful.
I know what to expect. If there are little hiccups like diaper accidents or crying spells, at least I know what is coming up during the journey.
If all of our planning and efforts give us this end result, it has been worth it!