Truthfully, I haven’t traveled with my kids on an airplane. My youngest is incredibly headstrong and difficult, and the thought of going on a plane with her makes me cringe.
My husband took a contract in the spring of 2015 with a hectic travel schedule and minimal time off. In fact other than weekends and occasional long weekends thanks to a holiday, he has not taken vacation time. Fast forward to summer of 2016 and with him working long hours traveling, I thought I’ll take the girls on a road trip to Barrie, Muskoka, and Toronto solo. I had taken them on a similar road trip the summer before with great success.
Here are my tips to surviving a road trip with young kids:
- Upgrade your hotel room to a suite if your budget allows for this. The extra space along with kitchen amenities really saved our behinds.
- Book a hotel with breakfast included. Our meal expenses for this trip were significantly less as I had one less meal to pay for per day we were traveling.
- Book a hotel with a pool – godsend!
- Because we had a full size fridge in our room, I was able to cut down on dining expenses by prepping sandwiches and snacks in the room that kept in the fridge until we’d leave which we’d put our lunch/snacks in a cooler with ice from the ice machine at the hotel.
- Accept that our regular routine would go wonky. The less I stressed about how quickly they were going to bed, the more relaxed we all were.
- For the drive I chose the scenic route as the girls were busily occupied with movies, games and books, the pretty scenery kept me refreshed versus the boring 401 route. Another plus side to taking the scenic route with pretty towns, lots of parks! We stop a few times to stretch our legs and I let the girls get their energy out by hitting the play structures and splash pads.
- Because bathroom accidents can happen – hasn’t happened yet but just in case and also I let the girls get soaked at the splash pads, I always have a bag of spare clothes and towels in the car ready to go.
- Before we left I hit up a Dollarama and made little surprise activity bins. Again if your budget allows for it, I think it is worth it! I spent under $50 for two activity bins packed with puzzles, games, colouring materials, books, magazines. While it was $50 out of my wallet, the bins did keep them busy for hours in the car. We not only had the travel to get to our hotel but also our daily excursions to neighboring towns and cities to visit family and our activities.
- As we have a portable DVD player for our car, I made sure to hit up the library for some DVDs that we didn’t currently own to ensure the selection was kept fresh and I didn’t lose my mind listening to the movie’s dialogue. There is only so many times you can listen to Frozen! And it was also important that the girls took turns selecting the movie. I can’t make them agree on a mutual title to watch so I have them take turns. Key is to remember whose choice was last so no one is slighted :).
- And finally, when I selected the hotel, of course price and amenities were important to me but I also made sure there was a full service park not far from the hotel. So when the girls are getting antsy in the room, or even before a long drive as the girls are regularly up EARLY, we would hit the park. The park not only had plenty of new and cool play structures that Ottawa’s parks didn’t have, there was a skateboard park so they could gawk at boarders doing their thing, a splash pad, and a bathroom all within a short walk in the park.
What are your travel tricks when hitting the road?