This is our best advice from Quantum-Dlux-Tours on how to plan your road trip with kids!
The past decade of Disney travel has meant more and more families fly to Disney Destinations. We see it very often and help our clients arrange their Magic Express transports, advise on best times to find lower cost airfare etc. But, recent fluctuations in the oil and gas market means that we are seeing more families take to the open road instead. When the price of gas is on the lower end of $1 and some change the conversation of driving to Disney becomes ever more realistic.
That’s all fine and dandy you might think, but I’ve got kids. Kids who don’t want to be in a room together for longer than an hour let alone a car. Trust me, I feel ya. With two toddler boys aged less than 15 months apart my husband and I drove to Disney our first trip down as a family. Yeah… I needed a nap and a cuddle afterwards. But overall it wasn’t that bad because I had planned out our trip, rented a van with a DVD player, and kept the snacks coming. That was over a decade ago however and tech has changed the landscape in that back seat drastically. Now we live in Wyoming and to tell the truth it’s changed our perception of driving: everyone drives everywhere here. People out here are willing to drive hours to camp, get a decent steak or even see their doctor.
So how do you take the old fashioned road trip without your kids zoning out through most of it immersed in their devices? We have some great tips below that help Moms and Dads plan their road trip excursions while still maintaining sanity.
1.) Know Your Route
Growing up we never flew to Disney, it was a rite and ritual to drive down and hit specific spots along the way. In fact to me as a young girl that only added to the anticipatory nature of our travels: Mickey was just a couple days away, but hey look another SEE ROCK CITY barn! To this day I can trace the route we took to Orlando from Southern Indiana with ease and tell you the various stops we would make, what markers indicated we were getting close, and even what my Grandparents would say and when to get me more excited about our arrival.
So too knowing your route now and making those stops can help make memories, but also give you all a welcome relief from the close quarters of your vehicle. Find those spots that make sense to pull off to, that will hold some interest and also give your kids loads of brochures to look through so there might be a moment or two of quiet that doesn’t include a mobile device. Don’t belabor the stops but make them fun and quick. You are on the way to Disney after all, and I am sure your kids will remind you.
2.) Keep Things Interesting
One of the items I did and still do with my kids is plan small in car activities and do them in a timely way. It could be something as simple as the “ABC Game” or “i Spy” or new books doled out for a brief spell (my kids are readers so the promise of a new book is often enough to quiet them down); we also had trays when they were younger to help them play with cars, color, do activity books, or even just have a light snack while we were driving.
For our youngest we pack a fidget pack for him. In it we include some of his favorite quiet fidget toys and even add some new ones depending on how long that road trip is going to be. Since he does still get anxiety when he can’t move about freely this helps him work out some of that nervous anxiety naturally. We also do seat stretches with him to help exert some energy out while we are still driving; he does some self compression like squeezing his legs to his chest and exploding in order to help release.
3.) Use Tech As You Need It
We do have iPads, and Gameboys, and Phones, and DVD players at our disposal. I try to imagine my grandparents or parents driving all of us kids around before tech and wonder how they did it. We do use tech for our kids, but try to limit it (even when there is arguing). I will routinely before a trip try to put a few new apps on their devices so their attention doesn’t turn to just watching movies over and over (and over, and over, and over…). One movie I did download on our last trip was a “Disney Behind The Scenes” for my older son to watch to get him interested in how the parks work.
Also make that tech work for you. I routinely have our sons use a few travel apps to find out how the road ahead looks, research good things to eat at our next stop and yes, use a timer for moving on to the next activity. They feel much more a part of the journey by being given a job, let me tell ya.
4.) Leave In The Middle of the Night
It can seem weird to strike out at 2 or 3 am, but that’s what we did when our boys were younger. It allowed us to get a fair piece down the road while they were still conked out. Mind you our kids were going to bed still around 7 pm, so we just went to bed with them at that time. I woke up around 12 or 1 and did the final load in on the car, the last addition was the kids. For us traveling to Disney by car is a two day trip, one if we want to push it so we struck out at 2 a.m. and took driving in shifts. We hit the Georgia State Line in time for a good breakfast before headed on for the next leg of the trip.
We also take this tip a bit further and try to fly at night too. Especially as we were starting to fly with our kids, and having one with autism, the quietness of the cabin, the fact that they usually turn off the cabin lights, and that there is a more relaxed nature to the passengers on these flights helped us get him into the routine of air travel.
5.) Involve Your Kids
As much as it can seem like you are a game show host keeping things interesting for an audience, your kids really want to help. The more invested they are in planning the trip alongside you the more they will enjoy the journey. We have our boys come up with things they want to see, items they want in the car, activities they look forward to etc. They may not have much of a say on which interstate we take, but they do help me pick our stop offs for food and sightseeing along the way.
Before taking a 17-18 hour long road trip we began to prep our kids by taking them on jaunts around our hometown: to Holiday World, Lincoln State Park, Indianapolis, Bowling Green, St. Louis, Springfield. We worked at it the same way a trainer would, step by step increasing the mileage away from our home patch.
We’ve now gotten it to where they can pack their own “on-board” cases and get ahead of themselves a little bit with activities they plan for themselves. We’ve got some great back seat travelers through making them a part of our travel planning team!
So In Conclusion:
Road trips are a great way to make memories with your kids and yes establish traditions. Some of the greatest times I remember as a kid was traveling in the back seat of my Grandparents Chrysler staring out as miles ticked by. Have other ideas for making a great road trip a reality? Let us know in the comments!