Beer Me the Strength: Vacations with Kids

My husband and I are a few weeks away from embarking on our first family vacation to the Outer Banks. We are really excited: going with good friends whose kids are very close with ours, a week to lounge on the beach or at the pool, a break from real life. Good times.

What is making me nervous is the 12 hour car ride. That’s a long ass time in the car for anyone, let alone an antsy three year old. Our kids are good travelers and definitely sleep in the car. They are fine during our five hour trek to upstate Vermont each August, but five hours ain’t NOTHIN compared to 12.

We have gotten some great tips from fellow parents who’ve BTDT (been there, done that), as well as some Pinterest inspiration, so I’m going to share with you our potential plan of attack in the hopes that maybe it’ll help you, too. OR. You’ll laugh at my naivety and just tell me to pack a few flasks and power through it.

  1. Leave at night. If we leave around 10pm, the girls will either transition seamlessly from bed to car seat (Olivia) or be groggy enough that they’ll fall back to sleep in a reasonable amount of time (Audrey – hopefully before midnight?).
  2. Bring a portable potty. We have this one and the liners to go with it and it’s a life saver. Because it has liners, cleanup is a breeze.
  3. Electronics. Because come on. We have an iPad. I fully intend to load it with movies and games.
  4. Travel games/activities. How amazing is this idea?

    swiped from Pinterest -- if this is your idea, tell us! I want to give you MAD PROPS.
    swiped from Pinterest — if this is your idea, tell us! I want to give you MAD PROPS.
  5. Snacks. Portion out snacks/drinks and have them easily accessible to small, hangry people.
  6. Books. I plan on filling one of our canvas totes with the girls’ favorite books (both regular and activity) and putting it between them.
  7. Emergency/necessity kit. I’m packing a tote with: wipes, bandages, nail clippers, medication (prescription and OTC), hydrocortisone, sunscreen, lotion, chapstick, extra hair ties and a comb, full change of clothes for each kid, and hand sanitizer. And maybe ear plugs for the grown ups? Kidding. Maybe.

That’s all I’ve got so far. What am I missing? Have you survived any long road trips with your kids? I read that a few people have “bribed” (I am ALL FOR BRIBES, to be clear) their kids to behave during long car rides. As in, for each hour they get along and act like normal humans, they earn a dollar to spend on vacation. And it works. I don’t think my kids (3 & 5) are quite old enough to grasp this concept but I am not above giving it a try!

Happy Summer!

11 thoughts on “Beer Me the Strength: Vacations with Kids

  1. Also change of clothes for yourself in case you get caught in the cross-fire of cranky kids throwing stuff; bag to put kids’ snacks’ wrappers etc; get some extra books from the library or sale aisle – the novelty factor is huge (& don’t forget to withhold some books & snacks for the ride home); & car charger adapter thingy for ipad. On the ride home you might be sick of takeout so consider a cooler with sandwiches. Travel mugs are easier than flasks 🙂 – but remember to get the screw top wine or else bring a corkscrew! We go to OBX with 3 little kids every year & usually stay in a hotel on the way down (Salisbury MD or Exmore VA) & power through on the way home.

  2. We go every year to the outer banks so I can def help you out! You have nailed it with the car “stuff”. I have a 1 yr old and a just potty trained 3 year old. Lots of changes if clothes bc they soul in car etc I also bring a pad for each with washable crayons, stickers and those pads you can reuse the stickers. I know the drive very well and can give you a better route if you don’t know it already. We leave at 4 AM so we get some sleep. Just a tought bc you arrive there and won’t have any sleep in you and kids will be fired up and ready to go.

  3. My kids fought for 3 hours straight on our 5 hour PA-CT car trip last week. Not kidding– 3 hrs of trying to grab each other’s arms and crying. Previously, I’d been trying to convince Dave we could drive to FLORIDA. Now I’ve sworn we will think carefully before going further than a 10 mile radius (I kid, I kid…kind of). Good luck!

  4. You sound like you have a good plan. My only advice is be careful with the iPad, Morgan got carsick only playing on our Kindle for 30-40 minutes in the first half of a 3 hour trip. Luckily, we had a planned stop right as she started to feel woozie, we went for breakfast and she got fresh air and we avoided any barf!! 🙂

  5. I’d pack an easily accessible barf kit, including barf bucket (use a sand pail-more bang for the buck!), paper towels, wipes, and a change of clothes, just in case car sickness hits! Though since you planned for it, it won’t.

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