Driving with the kids?


<font color=blue>Still crazy after all these years
Mar 24, 2001
Okay, we're not going until May of next year, but I am trying to start planning now! So....give me tips on driving with kids. We are going from Michigan to FL with (at the time) an 11 y.o. boy, a 10 y.o. boy, a 6 y.o. girl, a 5 y.o. girl, and a 2 y.o. girl. IDeas for snacks, drinks, activities to keep them busy (and quiet), etc would be appreicated! Thanks!

<img src=http://www.geocities.com/alemankc/kids.jpg> My Mouseketeers!

August 1989-Ramada-Honeymoon
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if youre sure you dont want to fly (wouldnt tickets be as cheap as gas/hotel/food, not to mention your snity?).....variety is the key.


get yourself a tv/vcr combo and a bunch of videos

get the harry potter books on tape or cd (the 4th alone is 22 hours long)

brain quest (game found at zany brainy or costco)
As far as activities go if your children are into video games and have the nintendo game boy I would definitely suggest bringing that along. Also various car-travel size video games as well as 'non video ones' at Toys R' Us and other stores. They can each go and pick out something or two that they like.

You can also bring along several books they may enjoy reading say if they are interested in a particular subject, cartoon character, etc. Most book stores inside the mall have a variety of books that will likey hold their interest. For smaller kids, you can buy the activity related ones that have the inside hands-on gadgets.

Also, if they have their own cd player/casette players, that will keep them occupied for a great amount of time. They can carry as many cds or tapes that they would want to listen to. If they are into card games, you and bring along the "uno cards" and they can play a couple rounds of uno or other cards for playing "go fish" or the like.

If they have several toys now that they especially enjoy for long periods of time while at home (and its' not too much trouble lugging them along) then I think it would be a good idea to bring them along too.

With snacks, I think that the little packs of crackers and cookies are neat along with individual bags of chips or pretzels. Since you are driving pretty far, it might be best to even go so far as to buy the big size of things like Ritz crackers, Chips A Hoy, chips/pretzels especially if you think they will go fast. You can bring along a lot of everyone's favorite sandwiches and the handi snacks in grocery stores are great too.

With beverages, you can buy a cooler and pack it down with several flavors of juice boxes, sodas, and milk if you want in ice. I hope this helps and you enjoy WDW!
We drove with our kids from Dayton to Orlando three years ago. First, I'd start out early in the morning. We started around 4AM and the kids didn't really get up until 10 AM, so there's 6 hours shot. If you're driving a minivan/SUV, I'd get a TV/VCR console (good for this and any other trips). A web site that sells them is http://www.autoenhance.com/. As someone else said, go to ZanyBrainy and pick up some small games for them to play.

On the way back home, we stopped halfway back at a hotel so they could swim and burn off some pent up energy. Good luck!

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The best tip is to complete some of the trip when the kids are sleeping. This can be starting in the wee hours as the previous poster said or leaving late afternoon, stoping for dinner and then driving most of the night. I have made the trip from central Ohio and am planning it again this summer. We fly every other year but we like to go every year so we need to cut costs somewhere. The drive is long but not a hard drive. (I did it solo with two kids)

Disney IS a Life Skill!
We're car trip veterans -- our longest trip was 5500 miles! As already mentioned, we use a TV/VCR (Buy some new movies but don't let the kids know how many/which ones), Gameboys, Walkmen, etc. When we went on our big trip, I bought a sticker book about the states. We pasted in the stickers and talked about the states as we entered a new one. We also played car bingo (cards have things like churches, buses, cows, etc. on them and the object is to see them), word association, license tags games, etc. As far as snacks go, I had a little bit of everything (sweet, salty, healthy, junk food). Some of the snacks were things chosen by the kids and others were things they didn't know we had. We also packed a cooler with soft drinks, juice, etc., plus plenty of stuff to refill it with. Our rule was that we did NOT get drinks, snacks, etc., from convenience stores -- our family of 5 can easily spend $20 a stop. We used a cartop carrier, so a lot of the stuff was up there. We also traveled a good bit while the kids slept. Make sure you take pillows and blankets so everyone can get comfortable. We also vary the seating arrangement periodically. The best advice I can give you, though, is to be flexible and stop fairly frequently. We stopped at all the state welcome centers, at national parks, and at several small attractions. We had AAA guidebooks for every state, which helped with that. We did not make lodging plans until we started getting tired, then I found something in the AAA book and called ahead. (I'm not sure I would do that now with priceline -- I would like paying $10 a night!)
Next driving trip: May 24 to WDW (about 1160 miles round trip)

This will only kill a little bit of time but it's fun. Our kids get visits from the "travel fairy". before the trip I buy lots of little stocking stuffer type toys, sunglasses, hot wheels, gel pen etc and wrap them in lots and lots of tissue paper. (coloed coded for dd and ds). Then I keep them hidden somewhere where I have easy access. When they are sleeping or disracted, I slip them one out and wait for them to discover it Oh wow! The travel fairy stopped by! :eek: Our mythology is that she only comes once a day (she's busy with all the families on vacation) and only on trips that last a day or more.
Definitely a TV/VCR combo with lots of movies. Also, we schedule a hotel stay halfway there thru Priceline. This time, because of a bonus $$ promotion, we got a room for $1/nt. + bonus in Marietta, GA and $5/nt.+ bonus in Nashville for the trip back. When we try to drive straight through we usually end up exhausted and we also end up stopping at some dive by the side of the road about 2:00 a.m. when we can't go on any longer and we pay full price - around $60/nt.

There is a great link to TravelSheryl's Priceline board on the Budget Board category which gives some pointers and info for anyone interested in using Priceline. It has been a tremendous asset to us, even allowing us to visit WDW 3 times in a 12-month period in 2000!
We have driven many times from Akron, Ohio to WDW and the best thing we have found is a TV/VCR combo. We have a regular 9" that we set in the van and it works great. We also like to start at 4am and drive the first day until 4pm and stop at a hotel. The next day is only about 5 hours and it seems like we got there so fast. Another thing that works well is if you pack a picnic for lunch and stop at a rest stop to eat so the kids can run around instead of being told to sit still in a restaurant after driving so long. We have a van and have purchased a electric cooler to keep pop and water. This works great at the hotel too.

Have a great trip. We are driving there in Aug.
This isn't a tip about the kids all of the above have taken care of that, but this tip is for you.

Be sure you gas tank is almost empty when you get to Georgia their gas is about 40 cents a gallon cheaper then ours in Michigan.
and to carry that tip one step further -- don't buy any more gas in Florida (especially Disney area) than is necessary b/c it's cheaper in Georgia.
This has been a lifesaver for us. This year my boys will also have their gameboys. I'm going to get a CD of a Christian comedian (can't remember his name) for my husband and I. I also buy little toys from the Dollar Tree to pull out from time to time. One thing we are going to do this time is sing "Zippety Do Da" using different consonauts at the beginning of each word. Learned this from our children's librarian. It's lots of fun.
I wrap up little presents (dollar store buys) and when the "I am SOOO bored" gets out we get a present. Usually activity books. Paper dolls etc.

Allow lots of time for stopping and stretching the legs. A rest stop, a bat and ball and a frisbee or jump rope can work wonders for cooped up kids.

Play the money game. Each kid starts out with a specific amount of money (you decide) any fighting, argueing etc and they loose money. Best to give no second chances, one warning and its KAPUTZ!! At the end of the trip what ever they have left is theirs to spend however they want!!!

Get some goodies that you would normally not let them have. For us it is the strange candy like lollipop rings or similar. They are great treat.

As far as the rest of the food keep it healthy...you don't need totaly sugared kids on board.

Most important have a suprise for the way back...that souvenier they wanted that you said no to...or something else special. The return trip can be ten times longer because the excitement is goen and the desire for your own beds are high!!

Best of luck and may the Quiet fairies be traveling with you!!!!
start early (3-4 a.m.) stop at places like McDonalds that have indoor or outdoor playgrounds. The kids can run off a lot of energy this way and you won't spend a fortune eating. :)
Four years ago we drove to Florida from New Hamshire when I was eight. We are going again in August this year. What I liked to do on the way there was to watch the mini TV with VCR. We brought lots of movies. When ever I travel I really like to listen to my music. One other thing I can remember doing was taking two maps of the US and coloring in all the states we drove through on one, on the other I colored in the names of states I saw on license plates.
Hope you got some good suggestions!!
Have a great time!!!

ps Books on tape could be a good idea also, and the special travel games with magnets should work too--we're trying that on this trip. And with a group that large plan on breaks! The kids will need to get out and run!! Have fun, Rajah*'s dad
My dollar store had disney coloring books and disney activity books! Odd lots had the same and a few were only .49. Even the older ones will do when bored! :)
We are headed to disney may 4 and driving from chicago with 4 children ages 3,5,7,& 9. We came up with the idea to keep some sanity to our long car trip. Each child will be given a roll of quarters. If they misbehave during the ride (like fighting with siblings) they lose a quarter. They can earn them back for extra good behavior. What ever they have left at the end of the ride they get to spend in the arcades during the trip. Hope it works...only 14 more days to go.
We wrapped up little gifts for crossing state lines. Oh look a tape for the VCR/TV comb!

With little kids we took a training potty and put a disposable diaper in it to soak up pee. Saved a lot of stops.

AirTran is cheap and good for the sanity.

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Quick warning about the Harry Potter books on tape....there are a few parts younger kids might find scary. I listened to book 2 while driving down last year and turned down the sound during a couple of parts so my 5yo wouldn't wake up and be frightened! For older kids they'd be great. I plan on listening to them again on our next trip.

There are lots of other great kids books on tape though. Madeleine L'Engle's "A Wrinkle In Time" is wonderful...and I'm sure there are plenty of others. Check the library!

Pillows are a good idea, not only for the kids but for the non-driving adult. We found a neat one that's sheepskin covered and velcro's to the seatbelt to use as a head rest. We bought it for our ds, but he didn't like it and we ended up using it ourselves.

We left in the afternoon when my dd (6mo at the time) fell asleep for her nap..then drove through the night. We plan to do the same next time and go with the McDonald's plan...we'll stop for dinner after nap time and let the kids blow off steam and again for a "snack" and a run before bedtime.


1979 Contemporary
1992 Off-site
1994 Caribbean Beach
1999 Fort Wilderness & Coronado Springs
2000 Polynesian and Old Key West
2002 Boardwalk Villas



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