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We do a lot of long drives is not a news to the regular reader of this blog. When we were just married people used to tell us that chalo do as many road trips as you want now once you have kids there is no way you can continue this craziness and now the question I get asked most often is how the hell do you manage with a child? How does he take it? Ofcourse not all are as critical and some really want to know how do I manage road trips with kids. Some days back when I was just coming back from the epic delhi drive, I was talking to Ro and she said that she wants to drive from Hyderabad to Bangalore and would I have some tips, I am wondering if this tip a little too late for her as she is starting tomorrow but nonetheless jotting it down here 🙂

Let me begin by stating that I have really been lucky enough to have a child who loves the road and does have motion sickness but I also think that apart from the fact that I am lucky somethings always work well when one is on the road with kids… Here are my top few things to take care of while traveling with kids via road

1.Enough to Eat – If O is very very cranky there are usually two major reasons to it : sleep or hunger. Sleep usually is not a problem with 90% of the kids during travel but hunger it can turn a child into a monster (I think to some extent adults too). So plan to carry snacks and lots of it, you can’t be stopping every hour or so for food… biscuits, fruits, chocolates, chips, muffins, cakes, vegetables, bread, butter and jam are something you will always always find it in my car when I am off to travel. Infact N makes fun of me that I overdo the snacks but I can bet my life on it that its never too bad too overdo on it. Snacks also work as a perfect time filler…. keeping the little one busy for a while. Get fruits that take time and are fun to eat like oranges, things like crax which you can play with along with eating. Take butter knifes along and let the little ones assemble a sandwich for u once they are above 3 yrs, if they are under that age, let them lick the spoon. But having enough stock and variety to eat would be my top most item to plan when traveling with kids

2. Entertainment – The second most important point when it comes to kids is entertainment, here you have to think according to your child. What works for mine is a couple of CD’s (we have a portable DVD player, but the its timed) some music that he likes that we can all sing along too. Playing word games which are age appropriate, for the younger kids start with showing things on the road and ask what is that and explain what they don’t know. Actually that works for kids most ages – this delhi trip we discussed clutches, gears, windmills, volcanoes, earthquakes, sun and shadow, truck sizes and its relation to the number of wheels among many more things on the way. The trick is to keep them engage in things. If you have two kids you can get them to play dots and cross and some simple games with each other too. In our household books play a very very important part of entertainment too. Let the child chose his or her own books. If he/she is big enough to read by themselves let them else you read to them

3. Toys or Familiar Objects – Kids thrive on familiarity. All it takes is the favorite teddy or ball or bay blade for them to feel comfortable and at home. Let them pack their own toy travel bags. Give them guidelines on whats good and whats not but let them choose. O has been choosing his own toy bag with our help since he was 1 and now he does it all by himself, it also helps me run away from the blame he might put on me incase I forget his toy home 😉

4. Bio Breaks – For babies and kids in daipers this is not a big deal but with older kids it does become a big deal. So be prepared, the rest rooms on the Indian roads unfortunately leave a lot to be desired for. So carry your own toilet seat covers, anti bacterial wipes, santiser. And be prepared to explain to them why the toilets on the road are not clean and what can we do it make them better, its a great time to instill some values. Having said that prepare for all this but also prepare to make them willing to pee on the roadside… some places in India unfortunately one just has to do it

5. Frequent Stops – Kids need to stretch legs, take fresh air more often then us so plan a stop even if its for 10 minutes, every two to three hours. It may seem a lot but trust me it will save you lot of effort and time in the long run

6. Fight the big battles, not the small arguments – I think this is just as most of the time at home too but becomes even more important when it comes to travel. Don’t fret if he has eaten a little two many chocolates but yes fight if he doesn’t sit in his car seat

7. Start Early, Start Small – This is what I tell most parents, for the first two – three years if you never travel with your child on road, please don’t expect him to do a 12 hour road trip in his first trip. Get him used to the car, get him used to the road and see your child fall in love with it. We actually did the first road trip with Ojas when he was a little over 3 months and we think we delayed the first trip 😉

So happy driving folks, do share if you have more tips to add to this

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