Yesterday we packed our things, loaded everyone into the car, and headed to Salt Lake City for 12 days. Carl is taking a class here, so the kids and I came along to hang out and take a few fun field trips while he learns. Today is our first morning here, and while it has been fairly miserable with everyone adjusting to being away from home, our drive over went surprisingly well. We take road trips fairly frequently, and have since the twins were only a few months old. Our first road trip as parents took us across the state of Montana on a 12 hour trip with two 6 month old babies (whose adjusted age was only 3 months), and we’ve been learning what works and what doesn’t ever since. While I am always ready to be out of the car once we reach our destination, I thought I’d share the things that work for us when traveling with four kids.
1.) Seating: Pay close attention to where you seat each child. For some kids, it may work best to always sit in the same seat next to the same person. For others, it may help to switch it up when going on a long trip, so that different kids can interact with each other. Cade and CeCe cannot, under any circumstances, sit next to each other on a long trip. We will all be miserable by the time we reach our destination after listening to them bicker. So we always have Cade and Adele in the middle row, and CeCe and Avery in the third row.
2.) Snacks: Make sure you pack a few snacks. Even if you plan on stopping for all meals, you will inevitably take longer to reach each of your stops than you intend, and a few crackers or a granola bar can be a lifesaver when there are an extra 45 minutes before you reach your lunch stop. This time I brought Clif Kid ZBars (the kids seem to love all the flavors, but especially love the chocolate brownie). These do have sugar, but they are organic and GMO free, so I feel ok about them. I also brought some seed crackers (I can’t remember the brand on these) and some grapes. We also had plenty of water, of course.
3.) Activity Bags: I pack each child a small reusable bag (the size of a medium gift bag) with activity books, crayons, pencils and toys. They can color, work on activity pages, or play with small toys. The older ones can read, as well. We always make sure these are well utilized before bringing out any electronics.
4.) Audio Books: I discovered that you can download audio books on iTunes, so when Adele is quiet we listen to a story together. It’s a great way to learn something together, or just enjoy a literary classic as a family, in a setting where you would normally be sitting doing nothing.
5.) Make Frequent Stops: I know it is so frustrating to add hours onto an already long trip with kids, but stopping to stretch little legs will be worth it in the long run. If we can find a play ground, we let everyone out to run and climb for 15 or 20 minutes. If we see a trail to walk along, we utilize it. When one person has to use the bathroom, everyone must try. Stopping to get a little fresh air seems to make it easier for everyone to get back in and continue the long stretch of sitting.
Now, I just need a few tips for a long week (mostly) alone in a hotel with four kids. If you have any advice for me, leave me a comment!