Vacation while traveling with kids is not quite a 'VACATION', you're basically just parenting in a different location. So let's call it a trip. We are taking a TRIP with kids, in the case a ROAD TRIP. This is part one (of I am not sure how many?) and I am starting with PACKING! We have three children, 6-4-2years old and this is our story:
What I learned last year:
1. Anytime you take a trip or go on an adventure with kids, TAKE NOTES. I created a notebook where I documented everything from the food we packed, games & activities to rest stops along the way. WHY? Because next time around, it's a great reference tool. Learn from your successes & mistakes!
2. After reading through my notes from 2018, "Pack real food, not just snacks" stood out the most. We are taking a 17hr road trip and trying to make minimum stops.
3. TRAVEL AT NIGHT ONLY. This was also a note that stuck out and also a few 'cherished moments' to help me remember why this is so. Traveling with LITTLE kids is far different from road-tripping with friends or really, anyone over the age of 18.
4. Simplify your travels, sometimes convenience is worth a few extra bucks.
5. Take better notes.
How I prepared for this year:
1. NOTE TAKING: Some important things to reference at jot down may seem unimportant at the time but during the trip could be useful! We made sure to document different Gas stations & rest stops along our way and knowing which exits would have food or places to stop/stay the night (if needed). "Pack more DVDs" this had two reasonings... one being entertainment (obviously) and secondly, to help with the kids sense of time. Since my kiddos don't quite understand "15 more min"or "10 more hours", we break down the timeline by "3 more movies". Seems silly, but it definitely helped the kids understand where we were at with our travels.
2. Packing REAL food and road snacks. This was a big one because my kid's favorite phrase is, "I am hungry". So instead of the typical chips & licorice, we opted for mini-MEALS. We wanted to have sandwich making options, yogurt, home-made 'lunchables' and trailmix. Our thought was created snacks that were filling and met the "sweet & salty" cravings!
TIP: REMEMBER napkins, spoons/forks, plates, etc!
3. Traveling at convenient times for your children seems counter productive and in reality, this benefits your mental state. Knowing your children's cues for naps, hunger or active times play a huge role in how successful your road trip will be. We optd to travel in the evenings knowing that our youngest (2years) would be hitting his afternoon nap and probably wake for dinner, while the other kids had all morning to burn out some energy and ready to rest.
TIP: Take time to pull-over and rest, stretch your legs or get re-situated. Frustrations rise while trying to parent when actively driving.
4. Simplifying your travels, knowing your route, especially... TOLLS. Will you be going through a tollway? We found that opting for an I-Pass would be a great option to bypass all the tolls, which could also be used on E-pass and a few tolls further south. We saved a hour minimum bypassing the tolls with the pass; no stopping or waiting, frantically trying to find the correct change or which lane to get in. Convenience is worth a few extra bucks.
5. TAKE BETTER NOTES! One thing I learned while looking through my notes last year was the lack of detail. Some rest areas are better than others- why? HOW MUCH GAS were we spending? Did we stop for food outside of what we packed? I knew that I would need to be taking note WHILE on the trip vs. recapping after the trip.
This is part 1 of a 'mini-series' of our family road trip to Gulf Shores AL.