By the time you read this, I will be about to drive or in the process of driving 9.5 hours from NYC to my hometown* with the two boys. Strangely, I'm looking forward to it, but I know this is because 1) I love driving, and 2) my kids are older now (7.5 and 4.5) so long car trips are about boredom management instead of cascading physical needs.
I'm wondering if we can talk about car travel tips. I'm sure some of us have learned some things in the past few weeks that could help others of us in the next few weeks.
My biggest tip is to allow tons more time than you need. Leave early. Then you can stop whenever you want to and not feel pressed. It's grueling and unpleasant if you're feeling under the gun and hit nasty traffic or treacherous roads or too many bathrooms stops. But if you've got a few extra hours, yes, you can stop if you pass a sign for the National Eagle Center or the Hot Dog Museum or the Schlitterbahn or something that interests you. And if you don't need to stop and traffic goes quickly, then you get there early.
Also, plan in real stops for eating and using restrooms and running around.
Plan your music selections in the car, and have some new activities (coloring and drawing, etc.) they haven't seen before.
In short, plan as much of the backbone of the trip as you can, so you can have flexibility in the actual trip. Oh, and don't worry about the kids being bored in the car. It didn't kill you, and it won't kill your kids. A little boredom is probably good for their minds.
What are your tips? For babies, little kids, bigger kids, yourself?
* If you're in the 419: Children's Wonderland (@ Erie Street Market this year), tomorrow the 24th, noon. Bring a can of food for the food drive for discounted admission. I'll be the one with one bored-looking child and one wide-eyed child.