Here's my five cents, if you ever get the itchin' to get away and are compelled to take the little lovelies with you!
1. Leave after lunch or close to bedtime. They will have burned some energy and will have enough in their stomachs to keep them from begging for snacks as soon as their bottoms hit those car seats.
2. Media is a driver's best friend. When you know they have hit their "staring-out-the-window limit" - give 'em the toons! There are times when too much T.V. is ok - long haul travel is one of them!
3. Hotel beds are your personal trampolines. In fact the whole room should be treated as an activity center. After being cooped up on the road for 4 - 6 hours at a time, the kids deserve to jump, run, chase and scream a bit - it's just one night. The beds and neighboring guests will survive - and your babes will build positive memories of those road trips with mom and pop.
4. Lollipops are the ultimate pacifier - buy them big. Seriously, I don't buy the kids lollipops often. So, when we are waiting in line for entry to a beautiful cathedral or the bickering becomes a bit too intense in the car, I whip out the lollis - it's a quick fix in a tight situation. I teach my kids plenty of self-control and expect a lot from them behavior-wise. We live in Prague, and there are some strict standards here about how kids should behave in public - something along the lines of Victorian England - seen and not heard, that kind of thing. The "lolli - gagging" is the exception, not the rule. A tool used rarely but effectively.
5. Keep a balance between the sight-seeing and all that's lovely in-between! As I look back over the photos of our little adventure, I'm reminded that the kids had their best times (and so did mom and dad) when we were traveling between sights. Climbing trees at a park or chasing pigeons in the local square. Playing in the water at some lovely fountain or exploring an interesting window display. At one point we all simply plopped down in a French public garden and played a game of charades. It's one of the sweetest memories of the trip!
I know I'm not the only one out there who hits the road with a car full of kids and no fear! How do you do long-hours travel with kids?