silhouette children vintage images graphicsfairybgNext month will be our second big trip as a family of seven. We are driving to Colorado to meet my family for camping. In our world it’s a relatively short trip, but for “the Littles” it’s a big one. It’s about 1000 miles and 20 hours of driving not counting bathroom breaks, meals, and sleeping!

People always ask me how we travel with the little kids. Truthfully, it’s second nature to me. Our “bigs” had traveled some 15,000 miles on car trips before they each started school. We do have some tips and tricks though, so I will share them here:

  • Establish ground rules. In our case, no eating in the car and only water to drink. We never bend this rule on road trips so that in order to eat, we have to stop, get out and run around. We need to do this anyway, so the no food rule ensures that we do it. We picnic 90% of the time and focus more on the playing than the eating.
  • The vacation includes the journey, not just the destination. We have fun. We see the sights. We sing and play games. We don’t watch DVDs. We look out the window, listen to books on CD, and communicate.
  • Meltdowns happen. We strive to have compassion. We pull over, take a break, lighten the mood. If nothing works, we plug in our headphones for a few minutes until the melting one drifts off to sleep. (Sometimes I’m the one melting down!)
  • We normally drive on our trips, and we normally pull our camper trailer. This works for us because everyone has his or her own place to sleep, own bedding, and “normal” food.  This makes the trip much less stressful for little kids, but we like it too. It also gets us out of the cities and into some lovely natural spaces we’d not have seen otherwise.
  • Don’t expect them ever to sleep in the car and you won’t be disappointed. Everyone needs music and headphones for a way to break away from the rest of the car. Take small games, little “prizes,” and art supplies. Pull them out when the road blues set in.
  • We live in Texas. It’s far everywhere. We do our best to break the car travel down into several days.
  • Everyone gets one suitcase only. That’s why laundromats were invented.
  • We love our kids and we love travel. Enthusiasm is contagious, so spread it liberally.

I’d love to hear some of your road trip ideas!

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