7 Observations Road Tripping from Idaho to California With Young Kids
My family and I recently made the long drive from Idaho to California and learned a few things along the way. Despite what GPS may say, you will not make it in the estimated time. For us, it was the trip from hell, but hopefully for you, with these seven observations I made, it can help make your trip better than mine.
Game Plan: Interstate or Highway
My GPS had us take a highway, which I believe may have been our first mistake. Driving through the little towns (if you can call them that. More like three buildings and a gas station) is nice, the interstate may be a better route. If you get stuck behind a semi-truck or a slow person, there are no passing lanes for about 30 miles. While there is less traffic, one slow car can change your pace real fast. So decide ahead of time if you want to listen to your GPS or make your own route.
Snacks: Too Many Is Better Than Not Enough
Snacks are always a good idea on a road trip, but on this particular trip you will soon find out there isn't a lot of places to stop. You may get hungry on the long drive through endless nothingness and anticipate stopping for lunch or dinner. Not so fast. In some stretches you can go as far as 100 miles without anywhere to eat, so make sure to load up on snacks and know you can always eat them after the trip if you have too many, but not enough and you will regret it.
Stop Plan: Strategize a Plan for Stops
With places to stop so few and far between, make sure to give yourself enough time to stretch and get out of the car, but not so much that you lose time. We added 5 hours to our trip by not correctly timing out our stops. My 5 year old wanted to run around and play, while my wife had to feed our 4month old. Had we been smarter she could have fed while I ate, then eaten in the car while I drove. We weren't that smart. Lesson learned.
Gas: Get It Often
Just to be clear I don't mean the road trip gas that we all get from snacking and eating all that drive-thru food. With towns being so spread out, there will be large gaps where the opportunity to fill up with be slim. It is best to fill up often, even if you have half a tank. Depending on what kind of gas mileage you get, you will want to make sure to stay above half a tank heading into those long stretches of nothingness.
Phones: Who Needs Them?
If you're as old as I am, you remember the days before cell phones. When we use to play eye-spy, the alphabet game, or car bingo to pass time during road trips. Well lucky for you (or not) this is your chance to teach your children those games because the chances of them having phone service are zilch. Have a plan to entertain your kids if their source of entertainment is supposed to be scrolling through social media or texting their friends, cause they will get frustrated, which will lead to you being frustrated.
Be Committed: Go Big or Go Back Home
Don't really go back home, that would be a waste, but you must be committed to making the long drive in one day, or else spending the night in your car. After 15 hours in the car, we debated on stopping for the night but soon realized there were no options. Once you get to a certain point, there are no hotel or motel options. Make sure you are prepared to make the long drive in one day or be prepared to sleep on the side of the road.
Kids: They Don't Shut Up
My 5 year old slept peacefully for the first 3-4 hours of the trip. It was a nice quiet drive, but then he woke up. For the rest of the day, until he finally fell asleep again, he talked, and he talked, and he talked...the ENTIRE TIME! Every 5 minutes it was, "Are we there yet? How much longer? How many minutes or hours?" As a parent, I recommend driving as much at night, while the kids sleep, as possible.