Crisis Free Christmas: A 6 Week Series
Welcome to Week 3: How We Travel with Our Kids (whether it’s 1 or 7 of them) by Megan
For some reason this article was bestowed to me, courtesy of Jessica and Sharon. I guess because traveling with 7 kids sounds like a circus and perhaps they think I have some tips. Or maybe because they had both already claimed three articles each and this one just fell to me. Either way, I thought about a few different angles I could tackle this article. I decided to talk about it from an “entertaining the littles” point of view. I’ve actually got an older article up about how I pack a family our size for a 28 hour road trip which I highly recommend reading. I reread it before starting this one and was like “oh hey, that’s a good idea!” Mom brain - I’d already forgotten some of my own travel tips since we haven’t traveled in over 2 years now #thankstocovid
Below I’m going to share a few different ways that we keep our kids “entertained” on a long car ride. I am confident you can read this and adapt it to your particular needs, whether you are traveling with a baby, flying in a plane, driving a 12 passenger van with eight kids, taking the Amtrak with twin 3 year olds, etc.
Make It Different
We like for the kids to get to do things they don’t necessarily get to do during our normal day to day life. We’ll buy special snacks we don’t usually have at home for them to enjoy during “snack time” on the road. We may arrange the car seats/boosters/seating arrangement differently in the vehicle mainly to be the most practical for a long ride (ie. older child easily able to reach a younger child) but also to switch up and feel different for the trip. The kids get out their travel bags that we only use on trips (each kid has a JujuBe Be Quick to store all their things in - this is a small clutch bag and helps keep all of the stuff to a minimum). With this all said, we do try to maintain some normalcy as it helps the kids with the adjustments of traveling. We try to keep them on the same eating, napping and bedtime schedule while traveling and once we are at our destination.
Make It Fun
We’ll buy the kids new pens, coloring pencils/crayons, a new notebook, etc. to freshen their supplies for the trip. These items will fit in their JujuBe Be Quick that I referenced above. Depending on what each child is into, we may get them each another new small item/toy that will fit in the Be Quick. The kids are not given these new items until a day or so before the trip - it creates excitement. You may find it best to give the items to your child the day of, just depends on how you parent - you do you. If you are traveling with a small child (3 and under) I’d recommend buying some new toys and keeping them put away in your own small travel bag (personally I love my Boba Stuff Sack for toys in the vehicle) to bring out throughout the trip.
If you are driving a long distance, just know it’s going to take you longer with kids. If it doesn’t, then you just earned yourself some bonus time. We find that with our kids we need to stop about every 3 hours to get out and do bathroom breaks. We coordinate these stops every three hours with meal times and naptimes (the baby WILL wake up as soon as the car stops, every.single.time) Also, we try to stop at parks as much as possible (weather permitting). One big tip I have for you if you are traveling with more than one child that is toilet trained: If you have to make an emergency stop for anyone to go to the bathroom, just get everyone out and make them all go. We quickly found out we would do one emergency trip for a kid, to only have to stop 15 minutes later for the next. It drove us nuts and we quickly put a kibosh to that by saying if one kid has to go, ALL KIDS are going.
Embrace the Journey
Whether you are flying and it’s going to take you a total of 5 hours, or driving and it’s going to take you 28 hours, embrace the journey there and back as part of your trip. Do what you can to start enjoying your trip (notice I called it a trip, it’s never a vacation with kids, it’s a TRIP haha) the moment you leave the house. What’s that phrase? “Life is a journey not a destination” - keep that mantra front and center on your trip. Enjoy the whole process!
Keep It Simple
Yeah, this ^^. Don’t over complicate it. Less is more. You don’t need to pack the whole house, less toys isn’t a bad thing. Less time on the devices (them and you!) isn’t a bad thing. I remember the days of road-tripping with my grandparents across the country and playing games like counting semi-trucks, playing eye-spy, playing car bingo, spotting white horses (zip-zap-zoo-daloo! I get a piece of gum), and so on.
When It All Hits the Fan
Take a break. Just stop. It’s not a race! If the baby is screaming non-stop the last 30 minutes and you still have hours before your destination, stop and take a breather. Driving with a crying baby feels like nails on a chalkboard. Get out, move around, breathe fresh air, feed/change the baby, just take a break. Then try again. Make it another 30 minutes. Remember, it’s going to take time, but you will eventually arrive. Be smart and be safe.
Well, I hope you can glean some helpful thoughts from our experiences. I’d love to hear from you if you use any of these tips or even what some of your tricks are! Speaking of tips - Jessica put together a video of Hand Rhymes (what's that? I didn't know either - opt-in below and we'll send you a video all about it, you won't regret it!) that she uses with her kids.
See ya on the road,