Traveling with kids is never an easy feat, but traveling alone with kids really puts everything into perspective. I never realized how much work was truly involved until I experienced it myself. Being married the entire time I’ve had children, I’ve never taken a vacation by myself with three kids until last week. I also didn’t realize how much help you have when your partner or another adult is traveling with you. You get little breaks here and there, your eyes don’t have to be on the children 24/7, and you have assistance with all of the packing unloading and loading of items.
Living in Chicago for 10 years, I made the 5 hour drive to Bloomington hundreds of times by myself with kids. And, I thought that was a lot of work! Since getting divorced last year, I really wanted to take a summer vacation with my girls so the four of us could make special memories together. The trip turned out to be a blast and the girls really loved Tennessee! Stay tuned for my Tennessee vacation recap blog!
ROAD TRIP TIPS
This vacation was a road trip, which has both pros and cons. The two biggest pros of a road trip with children are:
- You can pack as much stuff as you want without stressing about fitting it all into a suitcase.
- You can pack your own food and beverage and save a TON of money!
The most common question I get asked about traveling with kids in the car is how I keep them busy and entertained. While it is different at each stage and age, one thing that remains the same, is that kids need VARIETY! Variety helps pass time, so I will share what was successful for us on this 7 hour ( each way ) road trip.
1.). I always start the road trip off with making my girls “look out the window.” I tell them that is what I had to do when I was a kid, and I also buy a few new activity books and games to keep them busy. Having new activities or toys keeps things exciting! I have found that it is way harder to take technology away once they have it in their hands, so I use it as a bribe.
I have been shopping at Fat Brain Toys for many years now, and I love that they have fun, educational games and toys for kids! Brain Quest for the Car, Unicorn Coloring and Activity Books and Water Magic Books were a big hit!
I have had these lap pads for my kids since they were little toddlers and knew how to color with a crayon! They are perfect for drawing and coloring and have side zip pockets to hold all the crayons and markers. I always keep at least one in the car.
My girls love this car bingo set! It’s easy enough for little kids to play too!
I’ve had these iPad cases for my girls for 6 years. I love them.
This look and find toy is really cool and also really hard! My girls love it though. I still can’t even find everything!
2.). The license plate game. This is such an easy game, but we have played it on every road trip and we always get so excited about it! This game only works for kids who can read, but it’s very simple. Take a notebook, write down all 50 states, and then when you find a state, cross it off! We found THIRTY states just on the drive down! On the way back we found 6. I got really into it too, and couldn’t believe how many states we crossed off the list!
3.) After the 2 hours was up, I let the girls all use technology ( iPads and iPods ). It was nice for me to have some quiet time to make phone calls and blast my music.
I found my old CD case and the girls thought it was the coolest thing ever. We all took turns picking out a CD to listen to. And, then we listened to the whole album. Finding my burnt CD mixes were the best!
5.). Snacks. Pack your own! I took a huge cooler with us that was full of all our breakfast and lunch items as well as drinks. I also packed a few grocery bags of all our snacks and pantry items. I always hit Costco for the best deals and lately I have been obsessed with using instacart to have my Costco delivered. I get overwhelmed at Costco and hate loading and unloading my car. Instacart is worth it if you usually have to shop with small children. Use my link and code and get $10 off your first order! LFISCHER192179
My kids know that they’re eating healthy food most of the time they are with me. However, I will say, that a bribe of gas station candy was a HIT for my girls. It’s not something they get to do often, so I saved that one for the drive home, when I knew I would be exhausted.
Traveling is such an incredible experience and I recommend starting it with your kids from a young age. And, if you’ve never traveled alone with kids, I’m here to tell you that YOU CAN DO IT! Plan ahead, be organized, give yourself some grace and implement some fun new games, toys, ideas and snacks into your trip. Your kids won’t remember the messy moments, I promise!