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My husband and I have taken so many road trips together that we felt like road trip pros. We boasted about how we could do 12-15 hours in one day. We had packing the back of our extended cab pickup down to a science. Eventually we got a 4-door car, and then we had a couple of kids. Needless to say, road trips have never been the same since.
That’s not to say we never go on any. We do. But, they look very different than they used to when we would travel the country sans kids with very few stops, and with a lot more control over our schedule. Now that we’ve been road-tripping with two kids for several years now, my kids have become good little travelers. But, there are still some things that make road trips with kids extra special, and I’ve decided to share some here for any parents who might relate.
1. You will ask your kids repeatedly for 5 miles before a rest stop if they need to stop and use the bathroom. They will tell you “no” quite emphatically. As soon as you pass the aforementioned rest stop, they will need to use the bathroom now and it will be an emergency.
2. You will forget to bring something, and you probably won’t realize it until 10:30 PM when everyone is already getting ready for bed in the hotel room.
3. Even when you try to pack minimal things for the trip, you will bring twice (or more) what you used to need. Your child might be an infant, and you will pack more for the child than you will for yourself.
4. It’s 4:30 AM. You’ve all been asleep for a few restless hours when the alarm clock  in the hotel room next to yours begins going off. No one turns it off, and you get to listen to the buzz over and over and over again. Or people coming back to their room from a wild party continue the party in the hallway just long and loud enough to wake all of you up. Basically, you won’t get any sleep.
5. After one or two road trips with your little ones, you will learn to plan for one or two days at home to recover from your trip before you have to get back to work. The saying “I need a vacation from my vacation” will make sense in a way you never understood before.
6. If you are traveling 4 hours in the car, expect it to take you 8 hours to get where you’re going. Especially if you have kids who aren’t yet potty trained. This has improved greatly the more we’ve traveled with our kids, but I can distinctly remember the frustration when it took 4 hours to travel 2.
7. Your child might sleep the entire way in the car. You will find this to be a wonderful victory…until you arrive at your destination, and your child doesn’t want to sleep At. All. Not even when bedtime rolls around.
8. Or, your child might not sleep at all in the car. You might try traveling through the night hours in the hopes that your child will sleep the whole way, only to have your child scream the entire trip because traveling in a dark car is scary.
9. You will bring music in the car to help the hours pass by more quickly. At first you will sing those songs at the top of your lungs, and everyone will be laughing and enjoying themselves. The tenth time through the same CD is distinctly less enjoyable. By the time you return home, you will hope you never hear those songs again.
10. You will find yourself thinking “Are we there yet?” about as often as your kids wonder the same thing out loud.
Road-tripping with kids can be lots of fun, especially if you go into it with appropriate expectations and a sense of humor. But, there’s a learning curve to be sure! Hopefully my list won’t scare you away from taking that trip. It really is worth it. And, maybe with some of these items in mind, you will have a wonderful and successful road trip with kids who learn to love traveling to new places.