Road trips: Driving Overnight

Wisconsin to California. This is our yearly vacation plan. My in-laws live in  California and with that comes some interesting discussions in my family. We have flown, driven without stopping for the night, and taken three days with some rather small children to make this trip. This past summer was no different. Starting in January we began to make plans for our trip. My husband only gets two weeks of vacation, so getting to and from California as quickly and safely as possible is always the goal. Flying is really too expensive now with five of us, so driving is where we started planning. We realized that it would be faster to leave on a Sunday afternoon then to wait for Monday morning and so the plan was hatched to drive through the night on Sunday. We survived but we did learn some things along the way.

Stop to Sleep

Now this may not sound like the way to drive thru the night. We found as we traveled deeper into the night that it got harder and harder to stay awake, which I mean makes sense. As this happened more and more we decided to pull over for an hour or so to try to take a nap as best we could. We found a well lit parking lot and tried to get some sleep. This was the best thing we could have done. When we pulled out of the parking lot an hour and a half later, we felt rested and much more ready to tackle a few more miles on the road. If your planning a trip that has you driving through the night, give yourself a break. Allow yourself the freedom to take a catnap along the way.

Crunchy Snacks/Caffeinated Beverages

Once the sun goes down and your driving in the dark, having something for your mouth to do can help you stay awake. We had made our own trail mix and pretzel mix before we left. We enjoyed these snacks throughout the night. We also bought Monster energy drinks and had some caffeinated soda in our travel mugs from the last gas station. Plan snacks that maybe aren’t something you would get normally so it is a special treat.  It makes the trip have a little bit of fun, while having a duel purpose of helping you stay awake.

Pillows/Blankets

Not for the driver, but for the passengers. We had three young children in the back of our vehicle. we wanted them to sleep through the night as much as possible. Because of this yearly trip our kids get a child sized neck pillow on their first birthday. We also took along car sized blankets for them to cover up with. Not only do these work as comfort items and to help with keeping the kids warm. It helps to give a routine to set a sleep time. On the last stop before we wanted them actually go to sleep for awhile we actually sort of tuck them into their car seats for the night.

Be Ready for Anything

Be flexible. Realize that this may not work the way you wanted it to. During this 30 hour driving marathon we actually ended up getting a flat tire pretty much in the middle of no where. The kids ended up eating breakfast on the side of the road while my husband and I (mostly my husband) changed the tire so we could continue on our journey.

What are some ways you have made travelling with kids bearable? have you found any secrets that have made different parts of your trip more enjoyable or things you may never try again? Leave a comment below.

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