Sunday, June 21, 2009

How to Survive a Road Trip with 5 Kids!

When we went to Disneyland last month we planned on taking a road trip. Really, with 5 kids in tow it is extremely expensive to fly anywhere, but the thought of driving in the car for 13 hours seems daunting especially when they complain and fight and whine when we take a relatively short 45 minute to 1 hour trip to Salt Lake. (Your kids don't do that do they?) I wasn't sure we'd make it and still want to spend the rest of the week with eachother. But we did...

Here are some of the ideas we had to make a more peaceful trip:
  • We stocked the car with plenty of new DVDs of movies they had never seen before.
  • I gave them all a bare book journal to color in and record their experiences in--along with a fresh box of Disney themed crayons from the dollar store for each of them.
  • We brought along the Chronicles of Narnia CD Collection (we only made it through the Magician's Nephew but it was superbly read by one of my all time favorite actors-Kenneth Branagh)
  • Frequent bathroom breaks
  • iPod full of music
  • 3 Nintendo DS consoles
  • Laptop for the kids to share...
  • Mom and Dad keeping a positive attitude no matter what!!!!
We would alternate between music, movies, books on tape and silence which seemed to work really well. And while my kids were watching movies and my husband was driving, I was able to do several things on my laptop thanks to Autonet! I had some work that I needed to accomplish before we left town and I needed to send emails to people to give them instructions on how to take care of things while I was gone. Of course I ran out of time trying to get ready but because I knew I could shoot off a few emails on the drive I wasn't stressed. In fact I had total peace of mind. I was able to compose the emails and SEND them from my car using our autonet connection! Hurray!

I have to say when I first won the Autonet, I was a little skeptical. I had questions like "When am I really going to use this?" And when it was first installed I really didn't use it that much, but on our vacation it was a lifesaver. We ran out of time to print out a map to our destination, but it was no big deal as we got closer to Anaheim I was able to pull up google maps and find the way. Also there were several times when we were on the road and wanted to know where we could eat based on our location--we were able to find the closest restaurants and get directions all online in the car. I also got to try out eye-fi while on the trip. It was awesome! I took some pictures at our first rest stop and within minutes of being back in the car and on the road again the photos had been wirelessly uploaded to my picasa account through autonet. I can't even tell you how cool I think that is. The kids thought it was pretty cool too to be able to see the pictures instantly uploaded to the internet.

Since the kids had their own laptop in the car, they each took turns checking their email and going to their favorite websites like, and to play games online while we were headed down the road. I loved that it gave them just one more option of something to do to keep the boredom away while in the car.

Believe it or not we even used some good old fashioned non-technology based boredom busters like the classic license plate game and finding every letter of the alphabet on billboards, but I was grateful for all of the gadgetry too.

Our road trip turned out to be a lot of fun. The kids didn't complain (much) and we arrived just before dark. Tired but calm. I am glad we had such a great road trip and hopefully my kids will look back on it as fondly as I do. I am glad we are making such great memories with our kids. So between all of our advanced planning and the ability to do some spur of the moment decision making based on our in-car internet searches, we did survive the road trip and actually had a really fun time getting there and getting home again. I hope some of my ideas might be helpful for your next road trip too. What are some ideas you have for making road trips more bearable?

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