Tips and Tricks for Solo Road Tripping with Young Children

My kids are pretty accustomed to going on road trips. We travel fairly frequently, and just recently got back from an epic 18 hour road trip from Indiana to Florida. Yeah, that one was a doozie.

And while we don’t go on epic trips like that often, we do load up the car every month or so and head 5 hours due north to Michigan. Over the river and through the woods we go, to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house.

Five hours is very manageable. Eighteen hours? Not so much.

Oftentimes, I do this little five hour trip without my husband with us. And you want to know a secret? I prefer it this way. I mean, I love my husband and want him to be with us, but the car ride goes so much smoother when it’s just me behind the steering wheel.

Let me explain:

They know I can’t turn around and help them, because I’m driving. My eyes are on the road, and my hands are on the wheel. If they drop a toy or blanket, it’s going to have to stay on the floor till our next pit-stop.

They understand I’m not going to mess with the DVD or CD player while the car is moving. When I’m sitting shot-gun to my husband, the kids constantly demand movies on rotation. But when I’m driving solo, the kids know I’m not going to be making movie changes while the car is in motion.

They know the vending machine is closed until the next rest stop. No, I’m not going to open a granola bar for them or peel an orange while driving. Snacks will have to wait, and no, you will not starve. The last thing we do before leaving the house is to make sure we all have a full belly and empty bladder, especially baby Paul.

I set reasonable expectations by telling them upfront when and where we’re going to stop for meals and potty breaks. Putting them in the “know” keeps the annoying “are we there yet”,“when are we going to stop for lunch” questions at bay.

What I’m getting at, is when both my husband and I are in the car together, the kids expect me to wait on them hand and foot. But when I’m the one driving behind the wheel, they’ve come to respect what I can and can’t do for them because I’m driving. They know my primary goal is getting us to our destination safely.

How about you? Have any tips or tricks to road-tripping solo with your kids?

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