No, you’re not crazy. Although, it may feel that way in the weeks leading up to your big trip listening to your kids in the backseat as you run errands around town. You’re just about ready to say forget it, and buy the plane tickets to get across the country instead of making the multi-day trek with kids in tow, but you’re holding strong. I get it, I thought the same thing before our first cross country road trip with my then, 4 and 5 year old’s. But if you plan it just right, and take the extra time in advance to make sure you are truly prepared for those long days in the car with your kids, it’s well worth it.
Something magical happens to kids when you set out on the open road for a family adventure. It’s like a wave of calm comes over them and they can miraculously sit still for 7 hours in a day, peacefully entertaining themselves without a problem. The entertainment piece is by design, of course, but the key is to cover all the planning in advance so the trip plays out just like you hope for.
While en route, you will find so many teachable moments. Family discussions will spark as you drive past farms, through impoverished neighborhoods or past windmills. The scenery will captivate everyone, the pit stops will become mini races to the restroom and the coffee will be your little slice of comfort in the front seat. If you’re lucky, you will have a co-pilot helping lead the way, navigate roads and family dynamics. My husband is our resident driver, and my job tends to be snack dealer, trash collector, iPad charger, conversation guide and wayfinder.
No matter who you are hitting the road with, mindful planning and organization will help guide a happy family road trip experience that will create lifelong memories.
My family is based in Texas and we’ve traveled with our young kids by plane, train, ferry boat and automobile over the past ten years from coast to coast, and everywhere in between. They are excellent travelers for a couple of eight and nine year old’s; but we are meticulous planners and try to think of every possible scenario ahead of time and set out on our travels well prepared.
Throughout our journal, we will lay out our most valuable lessons learned from the road that keeps our family travel running smoothly in hopes of making your family trip an enjoyable one.
Here’s to happy little travelers (and sane parents)!