Hi, I’m Mandi, a South African wife and mama living in Canada. We moved to Saskatoon in January of this year, and I’m a stay-at-home Mama to my two littles – Summer Hope & Hudson. You can find me on Instagram @followthebergs where I post and blog about travel, parenting and real life.
Christmas will be here before we know it, and many families are going away on little getaways, or waiting until January or February to have a winter escape holiday. With this in mind, I thought it would be quite fitting to include some tips and tricks when road tripping with small children.
I love road tripping with our kids, and I would choose it any day over flying, and here’s why…
1. You plan the itinerary
When it comes to traveling with kids, expect the unexpected. We have flown internationally to South Africa twice with our kids, and have done more than ten domestic flights with two small children in the last few months. Even though I am always beyond prepared (a little OCD in fact), things still go wrong. It is to be expected when traveling with littles. It’s just part of the adventure 😉 I have found that the whole family is just less stressed when we don’t have to board the plane by a certain time, wait around during layovers and be governed by schedules.
When you are driving, you can stop in a safe zone and change a diaper whenever you need to, you can grab a snack or more coffee, or just stop at a McDonald’s play area so that the kids can get some energy out!
2. It’s just more fun
We enjoy loud road trip tunes, videoing us all doing actions to sing-a-long songs, watching movies and catching up on audio books, or playing games (I Spy) and doing activities with the kids.
3. Our kids travel better on the road
Our children are really great little travellers – we are very lucky, and they kind of don’t really have much of a choice with our lifestyle right now 😉 We have found that our children just travel better on the road, compared to in the air.
4. There’s so much more to see
Let’s face it, airports lose their novelty if you travel frequently. When on a road trip you get to see and experience so much more. We were recently in Nevada and were driving from Elko to Salt Lake City and we went past the beautiful Salt Flats. It was such an experience and we got to get out the car and add something truly magical into our memory bank with our kids. We wouldn’t have gotten this opportunity if we were flying, unless we planned it that way as an extra activity.
Some road tripping tips and tricks:
1. Stopover for a night
When we are travelling more than 8 hours, we plan a stopover at a hotel on the route. Do yourself a favour – book a stop over to have a break and for your whole family’s sanity levels.
2. Mommy sits in the back seat
I have just found that the road trip goes really well when I sit between the kids in the back. This is mostly for me to assist our six month old, but it’s just helpful that I am there with plenty snacks for our three year old too, and I can sit and do activities with her. She loves it, and it just helps keep us all sane. Well, except when I start to lose it in the back and then I take a nap or put earphones in 🙂
3. Use a diaper
Our three year old daughter has been toilet trained for a while now, but she wears a diaper during naps and bedtime. For our sanity, we choose to have her wear a diaper in the car on these long trips. She doesn’t regress at all and we chat to her about it and explain why and that it is only for the trip. We will probably continue doing this for a while as it works for us.
4. Have all the snacks and activities
Try packing fruit and healthy snacks as you will find that you usually lean on takeout when stopping for bigger meals. Bananas, tube yoghurts, drinking yoghurts, small cut fruit and veg options, crackers, cheeses. For activities, we pack sticker activity books which keep our preschooler busy for hours, magic marker books, colouring in options and small memory card games.
5. Use screen time
Okay, I know many parents don’t agree with having your children watch any tv, and that’s totally your choice and I’m not here to convince you otherwise. For my husband and I, we don’t mind some screen time for our three year old on the regular, and we definitely are happy to increase that a lot while we are driving on a road trip. Our daughter loves it and stays entertained and we are all happy!
We wish you an amazing Christmas season, and if you are traveling anywhere on the roads – Be safe, have fun and make wonderful memories.