We decided on a whim to visit my husband's family in British Columbia earlier this summer. While we love to visit and the destination is gorgeous, getting there is not for the faint of heart. It is about 27 hours of driving each way. Here are some tips for a successful trip.
1. Pack your own food. Having food with you in the car allows you to stop whenever the mood or opportunity strikes rather than waiting for an exit with something you'd like to eat. Instead of spending time trying to find a place to eat and sitting down to eat the meal, we're able to let our kids get out and run and play and then before we buckle up again everyone gets their plate of food to eat while the wheels are rolling to the next stop. For us, this also means that we eat much healthier than eating fast food and we save a ton of money. On the way out, we were able to just clear out a lot of things from our fridge at home and we had a good variety of food to eat along the way. Snacking also provides a little something to do along the way and a motivation for kids to sit tight.
2. Know your travel style and goals. In this season it is actually easier for us to put in really long days and stop overnight fewer times. It is a challenge to get the kids really settled in a hotel room and is actually not all the much fun to stay in hotels right now. As our kids get older we look forward to making stops to see things along the way, but for now putting the pedal to metal just works out better for us.
3. Consider entertainment. We don't want our kids zoned out to videos for hours on end, but keeping them engaged with something is helpful. Our kids love to listen to Adventures in Odyssey and Radio Theatre. They also had books to read and notebooks to draw and color in. And yes, they watched a handful of videos along the way, too. And the grown-ups enjoyed some podcasts also.
4. Pack for your stops. I packed just what we needed for the hotel in a laundry basket so we were not hauling everything in and out of the car for each stop. So helpful!
5. Let them run! Since we try to eat while driving we really encourage active play during our stops. We brought a ball to throw around during stops and did some laps of rest areas and some races. If we are able to tire them out a bit, our kids ride better.
6. Allow for some splurges. Starbucks coffee, Krispy Kreme donuts, and some road trip candy. Why not? :)
7. Travel different routes coming and going. We love the variety and seeing more of the country. And taking a road trip reminds you just how big this country is!
8. Make the most of the miles. In our case, we were able to stop at Wheat Montana to get a couple hundred pounds of wheat that is very reasonably priced and far more difficult for me to source here. What do the areas you are traveling to or through offer uniquely?
9. Leave early. For us the hours before noon are really easy in the car. Some may be able to pull the through the night drives, but that just isn't the way we roll. Use your good times of day to your advantage.
10. Enjoy the ride! Seriously, these moments in family life fly by and before we know it we'll be the empty nesters that can spread the journey out over several days, making many interesting stops along the way. I so enjoyed the time, too, to talk with my husband about our life and goals and plans for the coming months and years. The time in the car certainly was not wasted.
Considering a long trip with your family? Go for it!