6 secrets to taking kids on a long drive

Published: July 4, 2018

Car-loaded-for-road-trip-with-bikes Photo by HiddenCatch/Shutterstock

We’ve been making the 17-hour drive to the cottage in P.E.I. with three kids in the back seat of our SUV for six years now. Here are our tips to make your long drive go smoothly.

Bookend your trip with travel days

If you’ve rented the cottage for two weeks, take two extra days off work for travel. Bonus tip: make sure each day’s drive is shorter than yesterday’s.

Plan every last stop

In the era of Google Maps, there should be no guesswork and little improvisation to your trip. We try to plan every single pit stop, mealtime, and bathroom break, so that we’re never stuck in our seats for more than three hours. We print out a copy of the itinerary every year for each kid. That way they can check when the next stop is instead of asking “Are we there yet?”

Everyone make a playlist

Every member of the family prepares 45 minutes of music, and whoever’s up front enforces the equal time rule. You might be surprised at your seven-year-old’s choice of tunes.

Get podcasts, audiobooks, and radio-on-demand

There’s nothing like a vivid narrative to help while away the midday hours. If the kids are into it, they’ll ask for more. Last year the boys listened to episode after episode of the radio-comedy program The Debaters. Thank you, CBC Radio app!

Play road games

Punch buggy will only start a fight, but just about any other game is fine. We spot the licence plate letters of cars and invent acronyms for them. Example: for Dad, BCTF is British Columbia Typists’ Federation; for the kids, it might be Brown Cow Travelling Fellowship.

Bring lollipops

No matter how many distractions you plan, there will be times when the kids get excitable and irritable in the back seat. Give them a sweet, hard candy to suck on, and the ensuing 10 minutes of silence presses the reset button on their mood.

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