Mike and I have learned to love road trips. When our girls were young, we lived 16 hours away from my family. So out of necessity we developed habits that made road trips enjoyable.
It took time, consistency, patience, and getting it wrong. After 12 years of traveling with kids, we finally have our road trip habits established. Now even our girls look forward to road trips. The girls know what to expect so we all can relax and settle in for our journey.
planning the trip
We type out a daily schedule of our trip. Each day has the following information:
- time to get on the road (usually between 5 am-6 am)
- ideas for stops where the girls can run around and stretch
- distance we will travel
- sights to see with operation hours and cost
- hotel reservations
On our most recent trip to see family in Maryland, we decided to drive in one day and not make sightseeing stops. This was a 12 hour driving day but then we stayed with family for 3 nights to tour around the area.
Since we were on the East coast we took a slow drive back. Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Monticello were great stops as they were still decorated for Christmas. My favorite part of road trips is the ability to take detours to add more history and educational opportunities into our travels.
The types of sightseeing detours we will take include:
- National Parks
- National Monuments
- President’s Home or Library
- Top rated restaurants
- Places recommended by friends
Just like our home life, our road trip days have a routine to them. Our family gets on the road before the sun comes up. Mike and I grab our coffee travel mugs and we all pile into the car before eating breakfast.
The first 3 hours of driving time are the easiest. No one has eaten which means they are less likely to need a bathroom break. The girls are still sleepy so they are content just looking out the window. Traffic usually isn’t too bad so we can really make progress.
The girls have their own routine of what they do to stay occupied in the car.
First thing in the morning, they just enjoy what they packed in their own travel bag. Some things that they like to pack are:
They will also play games like:
- 20 Questions: Animals
- I spy
- ABC Game: “I am going on a trip and I am going to bring…”
- License plate game
One of my fond memories from road trips growing up was my mom reading The Bridge to Terabithia to us. It kept my siblings and I quiet and relaxed. I remember wanting my mom to read just one more chapter.
Unfortunately, reading in the car makes me carsick. Audiobooks have been a saving grace. We all enjoy hearing a story and it is amazing how engaged the girls are with the book. It is always a fight to start the book but once they are hooked it is a huge win.
I check out audiobooks from the library and stream them using either Hoopla or OverDrive. I also be sure to check out audiobooks on CD. If I want to listen to my own streamed podcast, the girls can still listen to an audiobook over the rear entertainment system.
We stock up on new DVDs for our road trips. The library is a great resource for doing this. Each girl picks a couple of their favorite movies or movies that they would like to see but haven’t yet. We rotate screen time in with the other activities.
The biggest benefit during screen time is that Mike and I can talk or listen to what we would like. The girls are to the age that they usually watch one movie and then are ready to do a game or activity.
Making the most of stops
Ideally, Mike & I plan our stops every 3 hours. At each stop, the goal is to stand up, stretch, and move as much as possible. During a stop we:
- Clean out all the trash in the car
- Organize busy bag items & books
- Bathroom break
- Fill up on gas
- Exercise, yes, exercise. Jumping jacks, squats, running and lunges.
- Order food
The stops usually coincide with meal times so we do like to pick up a hot meal. We are not going to sit during a stop so we grab the food to go. If we are sitting, we want to be driving. This has become easier as the girls have grown up but even when they were toddlers we would let them play at the restaurants play place and then grab the food to go.
My Road Trip Luxuries
The top reason I prefer to drive over fly is that I don’t have to be concerned with overpacking. When I road trip, I like to stick with my healthy eating so I make sure and have something sweet on hand that I won’t feel guilty about and my collagen.
I simplify my morning routine so dry shampoo, CC cream and mascara are necessary to get on the road quickly. Check out the links below to see my road trip essentials:
- Super Goop Correct CC Cream SPF 35
- Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo, 1.8 oz
- Benefit They’re Real! Mascara, Beyond Black, 0.3 Ounce
Road trips are part of our family culture. The flavor is changing as the girls grow up but the habits were instilled in them when they were toddlers. The burden of preparation has dwindled significantly as I no longer make point systems or wrap gifts for the girls to open every 100 miles.
Road trips mean adventure, family time, and activity. Since we have a daily schedule for the trip, routines for the driving time, and a plan for making the most out of every stop, we all thrive when we are on the road.
What are your family travel habits? Do you look forward to road trips?
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