Wow… we just pulled in from a great, warm sun filled vacation. The last days unexpected twist was the road trip part of it all. I watched airfare for the past month, looking at every combo of days and cities and for the number of people to fly, well it was just not in the trying to pay off everything budget. I really did not want to give up my week in the sun, so grateful for the generous company I work for we had the house in Naples for 7 sunny days pool/beach side was what I very, very much needed. More on that in a later post, this post is all about road tripping with 4 kids and how to make it manageable.
This wasn’t our first OH -> FL trek. We have driven there multiple times to Disney, but we were going a bit further this time, Naples, so adding another 3-4 hours on the trip. Also, in previous trips the kids were smaller, not just in age, but in height. We have driven to Hilton Head several times, but 12 hours is a lot more doable than 22, but like I said, I was determined to get to the sun.
Here are some tips when traveling with big and little kids, since it is a mix in my car: get on the road when they can sleep. Not everyone agrees with this one, but it works great for us. they are excited to go, happy to wake up in the middle of the night and shuffle into the car. I always have great intentions to be packed and ready to get sleep and then start the trek, but well, my intentions are always good. Either way, the plan is usually to leave about 3am and it ends up being 4. I drive first, pop headphones in and tune into a podcast, this trip I was getting caught up on this one, started this one and this one I just love! 🙂
I get us about 5 hours in, just into West Virginia and watch the sun come up over the hills, we then need gas and make the switch. It works well and we are well into the journey by the time any kids are stirring. Any other driver switches are done on the fly, usually at a gas station while filling up or just pulling off an exit, a quick run around the car, and back onto the freeway. It is like we are a well versed pit crew.
stop for 1 meal – like get out of the car and stretch those legs. Most times we are blasting right through, this trip was a bit different on the way down, we were heading to North Carolina to check out all of the One Tree Hill spots, so we were just plowing through to get there.
On the way out we ate on the go, in the car. I loaded up on Spark for the second half of my driving and we blasted through. On the way home we did it a bit different, drove all night, again, blasting through, so we did do the early morning stop for breakfast at Bob Evans. Everyone slept on and off through the night and was stirring with about 4 hours to go in the trip, so it was a perfect time for a breakfast break.
put the bigger kids in the way back – I love my car, and one of the things I love is the 2 captains seats in the middle row that allows for an aisle down the middle. The 2 big kids, which now means they are taller in height too, head straight for the back. They switch on and off stretching their legs down the middle and falling into a nook in the floor, but it works for them back there. Yes, there is always the argument of someone’s feet coming up into the front 2 seats to the younger kids, J is mad at someone for touching her arm rest with their foot, but overall, having the 2 bigger ones in the back works best.
devices, just let them have them – They do all pick movies and watch together, but iPod’s, iPhone’s & iPads are in high demand during the travel. Yes, I could be that mom that finds the fun travel games, license plate bingo etc, but honestly, that is going to end bad. Someone is going to think they saw it first or it will get too competitive and a fight will break out. We are on our way for quality family time, so I am totally on board for them to have their head in a device on the road. It turns out they don’t use them the whole time, actually, they get bored with it as with everything else. Chargers are key here, portable chargers that can be used to reload those batteries during movie time and chargers for every outlet, keep those devices charged. I cant tell you how many time in our 50+ hours in the car did I hear, I need to plug in. Pull out all the cords, all the portable chargers you have picked up over the years and get them all in a big ziplock bag to keep handy and keep charging. Rotate the devices and the chargers and don’t let the device with the GPS get low!
speaking of ziplock bags, keep some in the glove box – Those mountain roads get curvy and if it is during the day and a kid is coloring, while expect the car sickness and puking to come soon after. I learned this one the hard way years ago in Virginia which had me running into a Target in flip flops buying some new pj’s. Keep those wipes and ziplock bags handy in case the car sickness strikes. Nothing worse that a packed car that smells like puke.
my favorite part – there are more laughs than tears. I love that they are having sibling road trip memories together, squished in together, sometimes actually snuggling, laughing and watching movies (usually a Disney movie!) together.
Looking that rear view mirror and seeing them together and knowing they have these memories, stories and treasures in their heart to tell years later fills my heart so stinking full! I can picture it now, sitting on the outdoor patio, together, years later, they are in college probably one still high school, tears of laughter rolling down our faces as they tell the war stories of traveling 24+ hours in the car together.
get out in South Carolina – Just do it, it doesn’t matter if it is a rest stop, Starbucks or shopping plaza, getting out in South Carolina and taking in that amazing, fresh smelling, moss in the trees, salt water air is so so good for the soul, or at least mine. Each and every time I have crossed into South Carolina a sense of peace falls over me and my heart feels full. If you are heading that way, do yourself a favor and stop off for a breather in South Carolina. It can be simply for just minutes, just take in that air.