Last month I set out on a wild adventure with my kids while the hubs held down the fort here in Iowa. You heard me right; I took the kids on a vacation BY MYSELF! What we planned was a road trip to Florida where we would spend a few weeks, with plenty of pit stops along the way to visit friends and family, a total of 3000 plus miles when it was all said and done. Having three kids confined in a small space for this amount of time could easily turn into disaster but I've got a few tricks that kept us all in check, and even helped the time in car be enjoyable.
Audio Books - I couldn’t say more about how helpful audio books are in the car. Before we left we visited the library and picked out a few that the whole family could enjoy. Our favorites are Harry Potter and The Dragon Rider. The Dragon Rider has been a favorite of ours for years. It is read by Brendan Fraser who does an amazing job at capturing all the different characters voices and personalities. Others we brought were The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Wind in the Willows, and Peter Pan.
Packed Up - Obviously a mama’s got to be prepared, so I always keep a bag of miscellaneous toys, books, drawing pads, and colored pencils packed up in my car. This is, of course, great for road trips but I also love pulling it out when we’re at a restaurant or at church. This has even been useful when visiting a friend who may not have kids the same age as mine and I want to avoid them jumping on all their furniture or chucking those cute decorative balls in a bowl on the coffee table across the room (I apologize to the friends and family we visited before I wised up and packed a bag of toys in the car.) We also lugged this bag into the hotel rooms a few nights!
It’s The Little Things - A little can go a long way, so for the kids I packed away a few special treats to pass out periodically throughout the trip. Pez dispensers and kinder joy eggs were a favorite among this crew. They were able to enjoy the little treat and managed to stay busy playing with the little toy for way longer than I thought possible. I also hit up a few toy capsule vending machine’s where the surprise factor of who got what made them all excited and equally entertained for a bit.
Music - I love music! and the Orlando born, “never grow up,” Disney kid inside of me really enjoys the Disney’s Greatest Hits CD’s. This is obviously a perk when traveling with kids (please find me an adult who will sing “Let It Go” or “You’ve Got a Friend In Me” at the top of their lungs on a road trip). These CD’s were our fun factor when that next stop seemed a little further than we wanted it to be, or when someone was feeling blue because their brother or sister got the toy they wanted in their vending machine surprise.
Pit Stops - I mentioned that we took plenty of pit stops and we did. I’m sure you all know this is a necessity when traveling with kids but being a little bit more intentional about when and where you stop can make a big difference. What I did was spend a little bit more time planning to find good restaurants, fun coffee shops, cute little towns, and a lot of parks. Every three to four hours we stopped and had a bite to eat, or maybe just a coffee for me, and went by a park where I let the kids run around for about 30 minutes. We were pleasantly surprised that this really didn’t add much time on the road and it got all of those wiggles out for the kids. It was equally helpful for me to stretch my legs more often!
No Fast Food - Finding good restaurants was really fun for me. Eating fast food on a long road trip really catches up with you after a while and makes everyone feel bad, so we avoided it at all costs. Instead we stopped for fresh pressed juice, found a really fun Beatles themed burger joint, small cafes, and other locally owned restaurants. We may have also planned a few stops for only the best hand made donuts all over the southeast. Overall, we ate much healthier and felt the difference, so it was worth a little bit of extra planning. Now, I don't think I could ever go back to those quite drive through stops even when traveling a shorter distance.
I have to say, by the end of this month long voyage we were very ready to come home, snuggle our man, sleep in our own beds, and get back to our regular daily rhythm, but we had a lot of fun together. These tips and tricks made all the difference for those long hours on the road and in the end made the getting there half the fun. I hope these can be helpful for you the next time you hit the open road, maybe during the upcoming holidays.
Thanks for reading along, I hope you all have an amazing weekend!!