Last year, we were so excited when we booked our plane tickets to London for Spring of 2021! We had been talking and dreaming of going on a trip to such a beautiful place. Our plan was two weeks of taking on London, England, then Paris, France, and finally a road trip through some of the country villages of Scotland.
Bummer. We weren't going anywhere.
I'll be honest. I pouted for a few months while I hoped they'd lift restrictions, but when I saw that it wasn't going to happen in time, I switched gears totally:
Where was somewhere we'd never been before?
I landed on Tucson, Arizona. Why not? (See what we did here!)
From our home base, it was a 22-hour drive. With three children, ages 9, 6, and 20 months, what could go wrong?
Here are 5 things I learned taking three tiny humans on a road-trip:
ONE. Plan Ahead!
I cannot imagine what this trip would have been like had we not planned it ahead of time. We are typically "wing-it" kind of folks. Spontaneous trips and moves are sort of our jam. It's what we're known for. But that isn't going to cut it when you're driving 22-hours with three kids. Here was how I planned before we left:
Secure where you will stay at your final desination (Hotel, AirBNB, Campground, etc)
Determine how many days/nights it will take to get there (We chose four.)
Break the drive up evenly between those days and secure lodging where those drives end. (Try to make them near bigger cities or cool landmarks.)
Do the same for the return trip. (Try taking a different route home.)
TWO. Break it up!
I mentioned this briefly in number one, but I think the single most beneficial thing we did for our kids was to not try to shove 22 hours of driving into two days. Our original plan was simple and it worked out perfectly: Break the drive into 4-6 hour increments. We'd drive 4-6 hours depending on our day's destination and spend the rest of the day exploring the city.
This gave our kids the ability to actually enjoy the drive. They'd take pictures of the scenery, nap a bit, and watch for license plates but not be in the car long enough to become ravenous animals with sketchy attitudes- know what I mean?
THREE. Explore your stops!
On the way to Tucson, we drove across Louisiana, ALL THE WAY across Texas (Beaumont to El Paso!), into New Mexico and then to Tucson.
We stopped in Beaumont (to see family), San Antonio, Pecos Tx, and Tucson.
We stopped at state welcome centers to take pictures with the signs and potty. We stayed overnight in San Antonio (see what we did here!), and Pecos, Texas, ate at the most amazing restaurant (link here) in Las Cruces, NM. The kids loved it all.
If you leave by 8am and drive five hours, you'll be somewhere by 1pm. Grab lunch and set out to explore! Get a good night's sleep and do it again the next day. This Is half the fun!
I just love these handmade traditional Mexican dresses we purchased from a beautiful Mexican woman in San Antonio's El Mercado!
FOUR. Build in a day of wiggle room!
Listen. We've all been there. You've booked your stay and someone pukes their guts up the night before. Or the car gets a flat. Or maybe you just really love the town you're in and want to stay another night. Build some time in for "just in case" moments and budget for that extra night's stay. I promise, you'll thank me for this later.
FIVE. Give the kids some grace.
What an odd road trip tip, I know. But here's the thing: I'd be lying if I said these tips would make a perfect road trip. They're still out of their routine. They're still going to get tired of being in the car. But so are you. And that can make for some pretty stressful moments, so remember that just like you have bad days, so can they. If it feels super stressful, scrap your plans for the day and hit the pool or sleep in (hello, wiggle day!)
Hopefully, these things are helpful to you! Those of you who travel with kids, what are your BEST road trip tips?