Are we there yet? Aidan's kicking my seat. I have to go potty and I can't hold it any longer!
Family road trips during the busy holiday season can take a lot out of you. Circle of Moms member Amy C. should know: she's made several lengthy holiday pilgrimages to her six children's grandparents' house. She minces no words: "Be prepared for the trip to be longer and harder than you planned – many diaper changes, feedings and potty stops."
But don't despair: this seasoned traveler, along with several other Circle of Moms members, has shared solid ideas for getting your family wherever you need to go this holiday season by car — safely and with minimal stress. If you plan well, says Monica M., it might even be fun.
1. Travel at Night
Heading out during the nighttime or early hours when kids are still in sleep mode takes away some of the traveling stresses. "Traveling overnight if possible is the easiest," recommends seasoned traveler Amy C. Kyla T. agrees. "I have three kids and we have always done the bulk of our traveling at night, that way they sleep through. Our last trip was last Christmas. We drove from Kansas to New York. That's a 24 hour drive straight through with a 7-year-old, 4-year-old and a 3-month-old. We leave around 7 or 8 at night, right around their bed time." She also points out that driving at night is more efficient: if the kids are asleep, you'll wind up taking fewer potty breaks.
2. Take Turns Keeping the Kids Happy
While it can be stressful being the driver on a long-distance road trip, it is often even more difficult to be the parent in charge of keeping the kids happy. That's why Monica M. recommends splitting these duties and going back and forth: "If your spouse is accompanying you, take turns driving (if you can) while he sits in the back to read [or] sings with your baby."
3. Pack Lots of Snacks
Planning ahead on the food and drink front is essential. "Small crackers (such as goldfish) or cookies are always good to tide kids over between stops," says Circle of Moms member Ricky P. "If you go down the cookie cracker aisle in the grocery store you will find a lot of single serving packets and I personally find those easier then the boxes with one big bag, that way I can open one at a time and not worry about the whole box spilling or going stale. Plus, that way I can also switch the snacks up and not have a million different bags of snacks open and worrying about going stale. You can have a small cooler and pack sliced fruit cheese slices or sticks, yogurt tubes (so you don't need to worry about spoons and dishes). Juice boxes and bottles of water too."
4. Bring Lots of Toys and Distractions
Make sure there are a lot of distractions and ways to keep your kids from getting bored. Monica M. says her kids love singalong CDs, while Angie B. favors new toys for road trips: "They stay distracted longer while they learn about their new toy."
Jennifer P., who took a cross country trip with her boyfriend and 3-year-old son, brought along lots of her son's favorite music and filled a big bag with picture books anfd portable toys like a mini dry erase board, an Etch a Sketch, and action figures.
5. Take Frequent Breaks
Everyone – including you – needs car breaks, so make sure you take them. Becky W. recommends stopping often, whether to nurse, use the bathroom, eat, or stretch legs at a rest stop. Monica M. agrees: "The kids get tired of sitting in the car as much as we do, so make your frequent stops to stretch and play with them."
How do you keep kids happy on the road?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.