May 4, 2009 by Emily Johnson

Road Trip with Kids

Gone are the days of “let’s leave early, drive all day and night, and just stop to eat and pee!” With two little ones, we’re about to embark upon the adventure of a two-day drive from our home in Ohio to Portland, Maine. It’s about 15 hours of driving, and that doesn’t include potty breaks, run around at the rest stop breaks, food breaks, and I’m sure a few melt-down breaks.

My favorite part of the packing process is my husband’s comments about not overpacking as he looks down at me over his glasses like a Catholic school teacher. I don’t want to be overcrowded in the car any more than he does, but we do need to have what it takes to pacify and entertain a toddler and a preschooler, and once he sees the bags to be loaded, that’s probably going to get me another over-the-glasses look. He does all the driving anyway—not because I don’t want to drive mind you—so why should all the stuff bother him? Oh yeah, he’s the pack mule, that’s why…

By the way, is it wrong to consider putting the three year old back into pullups for this? At least he’s a boy and he can do the whizzing along the highway thing, or so I hear. I grew up with two sisters, so we didn’t do a whole lot of that unless it was an absolute emergency. I did let him pee in an old fast food cup once when we were stuck in a parking lot, too far from a bathroom. He thought that was so cool, that he asks from time to time if he can do it again. Boys…gross.

So, we have snacks, games, toys, baby dolls, viewmasters (remember them? they’re back!), books, movies, and more. I am told that a portable DVD player is worth its weight in gold for just such trips. It’ll also help during the vacation, because we’re staying at a beach house with my parents, and my Dad only likes to watch the news and The Weather Channel. He’s probably not into Elmo, or “Melmo” as my daughter says, and The Incredibles.

Over the years, I’ve collected lists from Parents and Parenting magazines of simple and cheap ways to entertain kids in the car, in lines, in waiting rooms, etc. I have them packed, too, and can’t wait to see if they work. I’ll write about that when we get back.

I like to think that my childhood as an Army brat, moving and driving back and forth across the country and continents every couple years, has prepared me for this, but somehow I am still a little scared. Stuck in the car 10 hours a day for two days with these kids should prove interesting, to say the least. I look forward to the learning, and I welcome your favorite tips on traveling with kids. Thanks for sharing them with us all!

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