Parents? The time has come to load the playlists with kid-friendly songs, stock the backseat with distractions, and hit the road. Moving long distance with children isn’t the easiest thing, especially if they’re very young — while you know your own capacity for trucking through long days and thousands of miles, kids don’t have the same tolerance for being stuck in the car across the plains of Kansas. So here are some tips for traveling long distance with children and keeping everyone happy along the way.
Pack lots of snacks
Be honest, they aren’t just for the kids. If you’ve hired a team of Unpakt’s interstate movers to take the majority of your belongings off your hands, you’ll have plenty of space in the car to organize a cooler of fresh snacks like “ants on a log” (the classic celery, peanut butter, and raisins), apple slices, or carrot sticks. If you have time before you leave, get the kids involved in making some date-almond-coconut balls or a “road mix” of nuts and dried fruit — just keep in mind that everything should be finger food and that you’ll probably have “road mix” all over the place, so avoid things like chocolate chips or M&M’s that can melt into the seats. That’s just the nature of road trips.
Bring a variety of things to keep the kids entertained
Depending on the ages of your children, that can mean lots of things: older kids may enjoy reading, while children on the younger side may prefer books-on-tape, movies, or educational apps on a tablet (don’t forget to keep the charger accessible!). For small children, keep a spare stash of different toys hidden in the back to swap out as they get tired of the things they have. As you prepare the car, engage the children in preparing their backseat palace with blankets and pillows, coloring books and crayons, favorite stuffed animals, and the toys they are most excited to have along for the ride. After all, they know best how to keep things fun!
Time the trip when the kids are asleep
Many parents prefer this trick: wait until bedtime, snuggle the kids into the car, and hit the road overnight. If you are moving with small children, this might just be the best way to keep them from being stressed by the hours on the road — and to save you from being trapped in a car with cranky kids. Just be sure you are well rested and prepared with plenty of water and your own snacks to keep you alert and driving safely.
Pack a change of clothes and the essentials for comfort
There’s something quite refreshing about changing your clothes as you get ready for the next leg of your drive. Especially if you’re traveling in the summer, bring along a fully fresh change of clothes for each day you plan to be on the road, with an extra shirt or two just in case. If you plan to camp along the way, bring an outfit for sleeping too — and don’t skimp on showers all around. Though the kids may not think they need them, feeling fresh will help everyone stay comfortable. Organize a tote with everyone’s toothbrushes, a packet of disposable face wipes or baby wipes, and a bottle of all-natural hand sanitizer and you’re prepared to keep everyone feeling clean throughout the journey.
Take lots of pictures and videos
Moving cross-country with kids can be a family-bonding and adventure opportunity. If you have the time, plan interesting stops along the way to see national landmarks or quirky roadside attractions like the Corn Palace or Wall Drug. Get the kids involved in taking photos too, perhaps setting them up with their own camera if they have the inclination. If you are a particularly creative family, spend those road hours planning out a mini-documentary of your vacation and involve the kids in filming and narrating. The possibilities are endless if you let your imagination go wild, and we all know kids excel at that!
Moving with kids doesn’t have to be a nightmare if you take the right steps to prepare! Here’s another blog post with tips on turning that long-distance move into a piece of cake, just in case you still don’t feel ready.