How to road trip with kids, from parents who live in a bus year-round
Road tripping with kids can be challenging, but following this family’s advice can make it easier.
Since April 2019, Will and Kristin Watson have been living and traveling across the country in a refurbished bus with their 3-year-old daughter Roam, making them experts in traveling with children.
“It’s important to be realistic,” Kristin told Fox News Digital about parenting while road tripping. “Sometimes we overshoot. We’ll say, ‘Let’s take this six-mile walk’ and expect Roam to be an angel for a six-mile walk… Just know that there will probably be a slump at some point are in the process. period.”
“If they have to slow down and go at their pace, then you have to be realistic and slow down with them and just be compassionate,” Kristin added. “Work with them and they will work with you. Kids are very adaptable… They want to do the things you do.”
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Another thing that can help those “meltdowns” is an entertainment pack, which the Watsons always have on hand when they travel.
Kristin told Fox News Digital that they have toys for Roam to play with in her car seat, coloring books and, as a last resort, an iPad for when “nothing else works.”
“We usually give her some snacks before we do that,” Kristin said. “Snacks are a must have.”
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Kristin said they plan their drive around Roam’s nap time, “so that that way she’ll have at least an hour of travel time to take a nap.”
The family also limits their driving time to a maximum of four hours.
“We stop several times in those four hours to get out and stretch our legs, eat snacks and run around, and stuff like that.” Kristin said.
She added, “You just have to go slow, enjoy the journey, and it is what it is with kids. You’re going to work around them.”
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Kristin said that Roam is actually “pretty good” – though of course she’s used to traveling by now.
“We got on the bus when she was 6 months old, so she doesn’t really know anything else,” Kristin said. “This is her whole life, and she’s a very happy, very good, smart kid. We have no complaints.”
“We actually always tell people that we think it’s harder to have a kid in the house,” Kristin added, saying that whenever they visit friends or family, they always look for Roam.
“She can’t get out of our sight on the bus, so it’s actually easier living in a small space with a baby,” Kristin said.
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If you want some advice on where to take your kids on a road trip, here are a few spots recommended by the Watsons.
Casey, Illinois, is known for being home to 12 of the World’s Biggest Things — including the World’s Biggest Rocking Chair — and other “Big Things,” according to the city website.
“Roam had a lot of fun there,” Kristin said. “We had a lot of fun there too. It was a really cool little town.”
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Cave City, Kentucky
Cave City, Kentucky, is best known for being close to Mammoth Cave National Park, which has “53,000 acres of nature reserve and the longest cave system in the world with more than 4,000 miles of passageways and 400 miles of mapped passageways,” according to the municipal website.
Kristin said it also has “a lot of really cool outdoor activities” like horseback riding, kayaking and a zip line park.
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National Parks in the West
Will said that when they head west, the family will go to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and Glacier National Park in Montana, where they spend a lot of time outdoors.
“The nice thing about that is there are dedicated swimming zones and places where we can all hang out in the water as a family,” said Will. “Those are a lot of our favorite little things to do that don’t really cost money.”
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In the end, Kristin said the destination doesn’t matter.
“We’re making work everywhere,” she said. “We went to Chicago… with Roam, and we walked all over and did all the Chicago things and she loved it. Most places have parks, so we always just squeeze in a park or something for her.”
“That way we can do the things we want to do, and she can do the things she wants to do,” the mother added.