7 tips for a cross country trip with your kids
This past summer we drove across the USA, and Canada on a big incredible road trip. We left from Southwestern Ontario, drove straight to Rapid City (to see Mount Rushmore). Left Rapid City and drove to Yellowstone National Park. Headed from there to Calgary, Banff, Lake Louise and Edmonton, and then cross Canada on the way back home.
Our girls were recently 6 and almost 4 at the time. When planning so many people thought we were nuts. We had 2-24 hour straight drives planned and knew we were playing with fire. Unpredictable, sticky, whining, question asking fire.
I am not going to pretend it was a nightmare; it actually was so wonderful and the girls were such troopers. However I do realize it COULD have been an absolute disaster
Here are my cuties eating breakfast in bed at a hotel! One of their favourite parts of road tripping!
So here are my best 7 tips for how to make it as easy as possible
1: Talk about it
For MONTHS leading up to the trip we talked about 'the long drive'. Anytime we drove anywhere; "remember kids, this drive is not even CLOSE to how long the long drive will be" or "you can't ask 'are we there yet' 10 times on the long drive, so you can't do it on a 15 minute drive to Grandma's either!"
2: Bring more snacks than you would even think necessary
We had snacks packed individually, enough for 11 different snacks each of the 4 days of travel. We also planned to let them pick out a 'truck stop treat' day two (Which we used as bribery or a threat when needed! Lol)
We packed apple sauce squeezes, drinkable yogurts, crackers, apples, trail mix, dried fruit, granola bars, grapes, pepperettes, cheese strings, and fruit snacks.
3: Depending on age… bring a potty!
Those pee breaks can be plenty, and having a drink is a good distraction for the kids. If squatting on the side of the highway is going to be an issue, bring a potty. Do you business in the vehicle, dump, and run!
4: Bring NEW things.
I started buying little travel books, magic drawing pads, sticker books, and mini disney princess toys 5 months before we left. I also got the girls their backpacks for school early so those were also new and exciting. They each had their own bag, FULL of activities, their iPads, and HEADPHONES. <---- this people, listen up. We were able to listen to the entirety of the 'Serial' podcast on our trip because the babes were watching disney in the back.
5: Choose your battles.
Now is not the time to be worried about screen time. They are trapped, in a car. Their little brains find it very hard to see beyond 5 minutes from now. Give them a break. A couple treats, new movies, and some veggie out goes a long way. When in doubt, play I spy. This picture above: we were in Banff earlier and the girls were EXHAUSTED. We did the hot springs and then they lost their shit and were misbehaving. We got in the car and as we looked for a place to have lunch we couldn't find parking, AND they fell asleep. We drove back to Canmore and happened across Quarry Lake. It was breathtaking. We loved it so much we went back again. We could have punished them and just went straight home, but we tried our best to be empathetic to their little bodies and what they could and couldn't handle.
6: Be flexible
Its just this simple. Fluid, moving, flexible. Don't sweat the small stuff. We planned to camp two nights in Yellowstone, but after one night (it was 4 degrees celsius, and 4 of us shared an air mattress) we decided we would be better off heading towards Calgary at the end of the day. We have no data on our phones, a GPS guiding us and an adventurous spirit after a day of hiking. It took us a little longer than expected but we finally found a hotel that wasn't outrageously expensive by 10:30 that night. It was July 4th and as we pulled in there were fireworks going off. Those moments to me are magic. The kids were so excited. That moment wouldn't have happened if we weren't flexible.
Another favourite moment of flexibility was stopping for this killer view.
7: Where the journey ends:
Keep talking about the destination. Keep the goal fresh in their minds. Whatever the next fun exciting thing is, remind them. Often. Even if its a restaurant stop for dinner. For us it was the family we were getting to visit when we reached Alberta. We dangled all the fun waiting for us in front of them every time they lost their focus.
Doing this trip was a major bucket list item for me. I am so happy we have this memory with our girls, and hopefully it holds a special place in their hearts like it will always mine.
Side note: I am featured TODAY on one my inspirations blog; a great yogi, lifestyle blogger, and down to earth woman. Check it out here: https://www.yogabycandace.com/blog/