Recently, our family took a vacation to Orlando. We went to Disney World, Sea World and Universal Studios. We had a great time, our little girls had breakfast with the Disney Princesses, got to see Shamu and if any of you are wondering, the Harry Potter ride at Universal is awesome!
As much as we love going on vacation, it’s the getting there that can be daunting – especially with small children (ours are 4 and 1). But we found a couple of tricks that made the eight hour car ride a little more enjoyable for everyone and I thought I’d share a few pointers on how to keep the kids happy while traveling.
- Run them Ragged – Find any activity you can that will have them expend the most energy before you get on the road. If it’s playing soccer, playing with the dog or just making them run up and down the hallway, find a way to get that energy out of them. They can’t ask, “Are we there yet?” if they’re asleep. I personally like to hit the road on a long trip a little after their bedtime so a majority of the driving is done with them asleep. I’m a night owl though and actually like driving in the wee hours, but if that isn’t your thing wear them out so you can get a few quiet driving hours in.
- Feed them! — Combining worn out with a full stomach can equal hours of driving bliss. You want them well fed before they get in the car. We’ve tried the whole “We’ll get something one the way”, but that led to messes, spilled drinks, fries, chicken nuggets (you get the idea). This way you can avoid finding items that have been “stored” away in your car by your kid(s) only to discover it later after it’s gone bad from sitting in the 110 degree temperature of your car for the nine hours you were running around a Disney park.
- Bathe them – Get them clean before the ride. Not only will it save you time once you get there- whether you hit the ground running or want to put them in bed- but a warm bath has been known to lull many a child into the blissful arms of slumber.
- Manage Expectations – If you’re taking them to Disney, rent a few Disney movies for them to watch on the way down. If you’re going to the zoo, give them animal flashcards to look over. This little taste of what’s to come will curb their enthusiasm as well as keeping them distracted so you won’t be hearing “This is taking forever” every 40 minutes or so. Think of is as an amusement appetizer.
- Pad them – If your little one isn’t in diapers anymore you may want to consider pull-ups or something with some absorbing power. Accidents happen, but they don’t have to end up running down between the cracks in your back seat. Enough said.
- What not to drink – When on the road, try to avoid giving kids sports drinks or things like lemonade. These tend to run right through their little bodies and have you hearing “I need to go potty” about every half hour. And we know if they’re small, the last thing you want to do negatively affect potty training. Plus a sugary drink will give them energy they can’t expend sitting in a car. Things like milk, water, or juices mixed with water tend not to run through them as quickly.
- Distractions – This depends on your options. We have a minivan with a DVD player – which we definitely used. Other options are portable DVD players, Leap Pad, puzzles, kids bop. Whatever you go with, try to make sure you get them headphones. There is only so many times an adult can listen to “famer in the dell” without wanting to shatter the CD and I promise you that number is WAY less than a child’s.
Hope these pointers helped and enjoy your family time!