Driving to Disney with Small Children: 4 tips to keep your sanity
Every year my husband decides we should live the American dream and drive to Walt Disney World. Even though my opinion differs, this is the choice I usually get talked into. Here are a few of my tipsand tricks that keeps the family happy [most of the time].
1. On-The-Road Activities:
Get them pumped up about the drive, just as much as the destination.
To help accomplish this, I bought my children each a plastic tote, to fill with car activities such as stickers, toys and art projects. Then, we let the kids decorate their box to their liking. One of my daughters chose classic Disney characters and the other was creative with Star Wars theming.
We went to their room and choose some of their favorite toys that would entertain them for 10 minutes or more: books, magnetic boards, Potato Heads, etc. I then placed each activity into it’s separate gallon Ziploc bag, so everything was organized and the van wasn’t totally trashed by the end of the trip. To add to the excitement, we also went shopping for some new items. We chose to go to the dollar store and a craft store. Do not let your kids play with the new items until your trip, this helps them look forward to the journey. Fill your tubs, get them out of reach, but not out of sight and talk about all the fun that lays in store for them.
I let my kids only watch 30 min. of TV/iPad per day. On our road trip, Mom throws this rule out of the window and it makes the kids feel like they are getting a special privilege. Let them choose the movies you travel with. Stop boy Redboxes on the journey to mix it up a bit. Purchase new learning Apps. Same rule, do not let them play with the in the days leading up to your trip, so everything seems new and exciting.
3. Distance Tracker:
Help them keep track of how far you have to go. As we all know, kids of all ages have a hard time keeping track of how far we still have to go. In my family we use clothespins. From my home to Walt Disney World it is approximately 1,111 miles. For every 100 miles we travel, I place a clothespin on the passenger visor. Every time we travel 100 miles we take the clothespin off the visor and drop into a bucket.
For the first part of the trip, I let the kids decorate the pins and bucket [buying you more time]. When someone asks, “Are we there yet?” Just point to the pins and say we have “X” more pins to go and then we are there. This year, I am going to create a passport book, and for every pin we drop I am going to give them a sticker to put in the passport book and we can write when and where we are.
4. Knowing when to stop and GO!
Watch your kids and see how they are doing. Be OK with stopping just to let the kids play and get the energy out. And just the opposite, if everyone is content, keep going while you can! Some families try to make the 1,000+ drive all in one swoop and some break it up in two days. Either way, just watch the morale of your crew and the parents! Do what works best for your family. The last thing you want to do is get to your vacation exhausted and upset with each other. Remember why you are vacation, to spend quality time with your family. Know everyone’s limits and be willing to change your strategy and plans as needed.
I would personally love to hear other ideas to help make this track across our great country. Let me know your thoughts!