Disney with Little Ones: The Long Drive Ahead

Photo via https://flic.kr/p/aa214p

Some people love a road trip and look forward to finding joy in the adventure of the journey. Friends, I am not one of those people. When I am driving, I’ve got the pedal to the metal, my eye on the prize, and don’t even think about asking me to stop unless it’s a dire emergency. I want to make good time and traffic jams make me crazy and anxious. I just want to get it over with. I have always enjoyed flying and marvel at our modern ability to travel such a great distance in such a short time. Well…airfare for our fall trip down to Florida (a Royal Caribbean cruise this time, booked through our friend Nancy here at The Affordable Mouse) was out of control. As much as I like flying, I like saving money more so we made the painful decision to drive down to Port Canaveral. 

This will be our first really long (16 hours long!) road trip with our 5 and 6 year old boys. I reached out to a Facebook group of Disney veterans to find out what they do to make the road trip more bearable and got some really great tips. I wouldn’t say that I’m quite “excited” but I’m at least feeling more optimistic that this is doable and not the end of the world. 

Here are some of the ideas:

1. Leave after dinner. You’ll miss rush hour and then the kids will watch a couple movies on portable DVD players then stop for a potty break. Make sure they’re in their comfortable jammies with a favorite blanket and small pillow and hope like heck that they sleep through the night while mom & dad take turns driving. 

2. There were a few suggestions for iPads and children’s sleep aids…we don’t have an iPad and won’t be giving them any sleep meds, but those were some of the ideas. 

3. Let the kids take 10 bucks and go crazy at the dollar store, picking out stuff to keep themselves entertained the day before or the day of the trip.

4. Surprise the kids with new travel-friendly activities like books, sticker pads, coloring supplies, etc. and only give them something new every couple of hours or when they start getting bored and restless.

5. Take breaks to stretch your legs. Eat at sit-down restaurants instead of fast food.

6. Pack snacks – especially treats that (aren’t messy and) the kids don’t normally get/expect. Some people suggested using divided plastic craft containers to portion off snacks – goldfish crackers, grapes, cheese cubes, cherry tomatoes, pretzels, raisins, granola, cereal, celery sticks, and mini pepperonis were some examples, along with a few sweet treats of course! Limit drinks to limit extra potty breaks. 

7. Play Disney trivia, plan your Disney days for your upcoming vacation, or sort through/examine Disney trading pins purchased on eBay prior to the trip. Talk about what pins you hope to trade for and make up stories about the characters. 

8. Car games like license plate searches, road sign bingo, Mad Libs, tic tac toe, Disney song singalongs. etc. I was directed to search for car games on Pinterest more than once. 

9. Get the kids their own maps so they can follow along with your route. Dry erasable ones are great for tracking progress of the trip. 

10. Be sure to bring headphones for the kids so that when they watch their movies, mom and dad can listen to their own music, podcasts, audiobooks, etc. – whatever helps pass the time and keeps you awake.

11. Give each kid a cookie sheet pan with raised sides to hold in their laps – they can play with magnets on them or use them as a desk – things will not roll or slide off because of the raised sides. (Someone else suggested getting unused pizza boxes from a local pizza shop and using them as a lap desk & storage – is that genius or what?).

12. Put suction cup shower caddies on a window that they can reach to keep their pencils, Lego pieces, etc in so that they are not dropping on the floor all the time. 

13. Let kids pack their own things in a clear backpack so they can easily see and find what they are looking for on their own. 

14. I could go on and on with these fun and interesting ideas, but I cannot forget one very important one: Stop at the Florida Welcome Center for fresh-squeezed orange juice!

What would you add to this list to make a long road trip with little ones more tolerable? 

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Candice was raised in east Tennessee. While in college, her best friend dragged her to a Walt Disney World College Program recruiting session at the University of Tennessee and the rest is Disney history. In the Fall of 1999, Candice became a quick service food hostess for Sunset Ranch Market and Fantasmic at Disney-MGM Studios – or what is now known as Disney’s Hollywood Studios. While soaking up her time as a cast member, she met Ryan, a neighbor and a fellow college programmer who worked as a custodial host at Epcot. Four years later, Candice moved to the Midwest and married that boy from across the hall. They now live in Greenwood, Indiana with their two little boys. The Disney-loving foursome took their first family trip to The Happiest Place on Earth in 2013 and Candice is eagerly planning their return. Candice also works full-time at a community mental health center and enjoys taking photographs and blogging at Mommy in the Midwest.

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