|Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta|
There is no hard and fast rule for how many hours a day you should drive with kids. While some kids may sleep, play games, or watch movies half the day, others may tantrum or puke if you don’t give them very frequent breaks. We were blessed with a child in the latter category, so even 2-hour drives to the mountains used to require pulling over at some point. How did we manage epic road trips? We planned to stop somewhere scenic or interesting every couple hours, and only drove half the day; a far cry from the 10-12 hour drives we took in our pre-kid road days. If you have kids and need to cover a lot of ground in one day, what are your options?
- Drive at Nap Time(s) – Head out right before baby’s first nap, take a lunch and play break when she wakes up, then resume driving right before afternoon nap time. When she awoke, we only had to entertain her in the car for 1-2 hours until we stopped to set up camp and make dinner. This method allowed us to drive 4-6 hours a day when our oldest was one year old.
- Lengthen your trip – If you are going somewhere more than 8-10 hours away, consider taking extra time off work, so you can spend the night somewhere on the way there and back. A stopover in the Okanagan is perfect when heading to the West Coast.
- Have an Epic Day (Embrace the Journey) – If you must get somewhere in one day, make it an epic day. Take several breaks throughout the day to avoid mutiny. In the evening, go out for dinner – even if it’s fast food, get out of the car – and brush the kids’ teeth after so if they fall asleep in the car, they are ready for bed. Just transfer your kids from car to bed at the end of the day.*
- Drive at Night – While you can log a lot of miles at night while the kids sleep, I only recommend this to night owls or folks who can stay alert for the drive (e.g. shift workers who are used to being up all night). If you night drive, someone should stay awake with you to help keep you awake and make sure you don’t fall asleep at the wheel.
- Reconsider your destination/mode of travel. If there is no time for stops and stopovers, or you have difficult/carsick-prone passengers, consider flying or going somewhere closer. You want your children to remember the fun they had, not the interminable hours in the car asking once more, “Are we there yet?” To small children, there is not much difference between Banff or Jasper. They just want to sleep in a tent and roast marshmallows! Save the long drive for when they are bigger and can appreciate the difference and why you are sitting in the car 3 times longer.
|Kettle Valley Railway trestle bridge, Kelowna, BC|
|Rialto Beach, Olympic Peninsula, Washington|
Part 2: Budgeting Tools & Tips
Part 3: Embrace the Journey
- 8 am – Leave Calgary
- 9:45 am – 10 am – Washroom/snack break at Castle Junction (157 km)
- 11:30 am – 12:30 pm Lunch in Golden (109 km)
- 2 pm – 2:30 pm Walk/snack at Giant Cedars Boardwalk & Picnic Area, Mount Revelstoke National Park (121 km)
- 5 pm Arrive at Shuswap Lake Provincial Park – camp for 2 nights (191 km)