A big part of me wants to yell – DO NOT PLAN AN 18 HOUR CAR RIDE WITH KIDS EVER! But when you have four kids, a budget and family who live 18 hours away you often don’t have much of a choice.
It was an experience. That really is all I have to say about that! But we did, as you do, learn a few things along the way.
These are a few tips I have for traveling long distances with kids (FOUR of them to be exact).
1. REST the day before. Obviously things worked out a little different than what I planned with the last minute trip to Tanzania and it was not ideal getting an early start after a full day of traveling through Africa. I was tired. Not dangerously tired but I could have been a lot more rested.
2. Pack snacks you know the kids will eat. Stopping isn’t always possible and kids often get hungry when there is no stop in sight. Even if it means you all have Flings for breakfast, pack stuff that they will eat. A hungry child confined to a car chair isn’t much fun.
3. Be flexible. Obviously we all have the trip planned. We leave at 5, first stop at 9, second stop at 11h30 but then someone needs to wee urgently or the baby needs a nappy change or you are just gatvol of watching the endless road in front of you. Stop when you want, don’t stop if you don’t want to.
4. Swap drivers. I drove the whole way on my own and it was tough. My mom was great with the kids which really helped but even with the regular stops and overnight rest, by the time we were half way into day two I was ready to pay someone else to drive.
5. Pack an easily accessible medicine kit. Focus on stuff like meds for food poisoning, tummy cramps – that kind of thing. (Yes we ate some dodge food at Middleburg).
6. Remember the music! I forgot to pack CDs in so when we lost signal we listened to Nianel on repeat until eventually we had all had enough.
7. Accept the mess. We did a clean out of rubbish at each stop but the car looked like we had lived in it for a week. There was toys, dummies, bottles, scooby wire, loom bands and glitter everywhere. I think I stopped caring at Bloemfontein.
8. Drive carefully. I find it hard to not just put my foot down on the open road but there were speed cops almost the entire way (I learnt this the hard way). We also saw a lot of people doing silly things, like over taking 3/4 cars/trucks at a time or being indecisive which often causes more chaos. Maybe you have to sit behind the truck for 30 minutes longer than you would like, but at least you will arrive.
9. Remember that kids are kids. Being stuck in a car for 4 hours at a time is not fun for anyone. As adults we are able to suck it up but kids, especially babies aren’t so they will cry, get irritable and moany. Be kind with them.
10. Enjoy it. Our trip was long, very long. I was tired most of the way. I just wanted to get to our destination, despite that I think we still had a relatively good time. We made some memories, saw a lot of South Africa and even managed to find 4 elusive Captain America’s in small coffee shop in De Rust.
How are you getting to your holiday destination?