So I headed to Vegas from LA for NYE! Yea, the simple idea of that sounds exhausting to me too. The thought of carting around a one AND two year old, packing for a family of five, the cold weather, the crowds, and the traffic that made this typically 4.5 hour drive a 7.5 hr. one might deter most parents. Yet, I'm all about creating experiences and can't stand feeling like I'm limited to what we can do all because we have small children. So our extended family wanted to visit Vegas for the New Year and we'd make it happen at all cost and with their help, of course.
So how did we handle taking a road trip with little ones?
Here's what worked for us (and what didn't):
- Packing lots of easily accessible snacks (including water, juice boxes, fruits, granola, and cookies): Pick something everyone likes and pack enough for the entire trip (there and back).
- Willingness to take it slow: Make time for stops to change diapers, eat, use the restroom, stretch out. Sure this adds to the trek, but everyone seems happier after breaking up a long drive.
- Keep essentials handy: in my case we packed formula for my children who still use bottles. I kept a ton of bottles (pack extra), water and the formula handy while driving. Keep extra clothes handy too. Sure enough my one year old was wet all over 1.5 hours into a 7 + hr. trip.
- Plan entertainment options beforehand: in our case we brought two fully charged iphones with games downloaded unto them, an iPad, toys, books, pen, paper and a stock pile of games to resort to like categories, 20 questions, hangman. We even took time out to discuss our goals for the year and type those out on the iPad.
- Accept the complaints: we are so hard on my son about not complaining unless he has a solution to offer, but with a long drive I knew there'd be a ton of "are we there yets?" and I just accepted it without letting it irritate me as best I could. This took some willpower. My favorite was when he asked how long a mile was and realized every mile was about a minute. Imagine hearing this endlessly: "OHH MAN, 300 miles until I can play with my Wii, OHH MAN 299 miles until I can play with my Wii, OHH MAN..." You get the dreadful point. Tolerance is KEY!
What Didn't Work:
- Not downloading movies beforehand: we completely forgot to download movies unto our tablet. Now that would have entertained the little ones for multiple hours. We'll have those handy next time.
- Not having enough music on-hand: my kiddos love music, but during the long drive we didn't always have radio signal and not everyone has a tablet/phone to play music from, so burn an old fashion CD with your kids favorites. In fact the cheesier the better. Singing along to "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" surely works wonders to ware off boredom.
- Not getting everyone to take advantage of one bathroom stop: make your little ones tinkle simultaneously. Sounds funny, but we just didn't have the time to give everyone their own potty break. I don't care how cool the waterfall urinal is just outside of Zzyzx.
How do you survive long family road trips to make them easy and effortless (okay, maybe not easy and effortless, but how do you create the ORGANIZED chaos that works for you)? Share your tips with us!