Trip

How to road trip with kids, from parents who live in a bus year-round

Road tripping with children can be challenging, but following this family’s advice could make things easier.

Will and Kristin Watson have been living and traveling around the country in a renovated bus with their almost-3-year-old daughter Roam since April 2019, making them experts at traveling on the road with kids.

“It’s important to be realistic,” Kristin told Fox News about parenting while road tripping. “Sometimes we overshoot. We’ll be like, ‘Let’s go on this six-mile hike’ and expect Roam to be an angel for a six-mile hike… Just know that there are probably going to be meltdowns in the process at some point.”

Will and Kristin Watson have been living and traveling around the country in a renovated bus with their almost-3-year-old daughter Roam since April 2019, making them experts at traveling on the road with kids.

Will and Kristin Watson have been living and traveling around the country in a renovated bus with their almost-3-year-old daughter Roam since April 2019, making them experts at traveling on the road with kids.
(Courtesy of Will and Kristin Watson)

“If they need to slow down and go at their pace, then you need to be realistic and slow down with them and just be compassionate,” Kristin added. “Work with them and they’ll work with you. Children are very adaptable. … They want to do the things that you’re doing.” 

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Another thing that can help those “meltdowns” is an entertainment kit, which the Watsons always have on hand while they travel. 

Kristin told Fox that theirs has toys that Roam can play with in her car seat, coloring books and, as a last resort, an iPad for when “nothing else works.” 

“Usually before we do that, we’ll give her some snacks,” Kristin said. “Snacks are a must-have.”

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Kristin said they schedule their driving around Roam’s nap time, “so that way, at least an hour of travel time will be her taking a nap.”

The family also limits their driving time to four hours max. 

The Watsons also travel with their pitbull Rush.

The Watsons also travel with their pitbull Rush.
(Courtesy of Will and Kristin Watson)

“We stop multiple times in that four hours to get out and stretch our legs, and eat snacks and run around, and things like that.” Kristin said. 

She added: “You’ve just got to go slow, enjoy the journey, and it is what it is with kids. You’re going to be working around them.”

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Kristin said Roam is actually “pretty good” — though, of course, she’s accustomed to traveling by now. 

“We moved into the bus when she was 6 months old, so she doesn’t really know anything different,” Kristin said. “This is her whole life, and she is a very happy, very good, smart child. We have zero complaints.”

The Watsons' renovated bus – which they named Juan -- is pictured.

The Watsons’ renovated bus – which they named Juan — is pictured.
(Courtesy of Will and Kristin Watson)

“We actually always tell people we think it’s harder to have a kid in a house,” Kristin added, saying that whenever they visit friends or family, they’re always looking for Roam.

“She can’t get out of our sight in the bus, so it’s actually easier to live in a tiny space with a baby,” Kristin said.

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If you want some advice for where to road trip with your kids, here are a few spots recommended by the Watsons.

Casey, Illinois

Casey, Illinois, is famous for being the home of 12 of the World’s Largest Things — including the world’s largest rocking chair —  and other “Big Things,” according to the town website.

“Roam had a lot of fun there,” Kristin said. “We had a lot of fun there, too. It was a really cool, small 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 natural preserve and the longest cave system in the world with over 4000 mile of passages and 400 miles of mapped passageways,” according to the town website.

Kristin said it also has “lots of really cool outdoor activities,” like horseback riding, kayaking and a zipline park.

Kristin told Fox News that the important thing to know about traveling with kids is that you have to be realistic about your plans and children sometimes have to go at a slower pace.

Kristin told Fox News that the important thing to know about traveling with kids is that you have to be realistic about your plans and children sometimes have to go at a slower pace.
(Courtesy of Will and Kristin Watson)

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National parks out West

Will said when they’re out West, the family will go to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and Glacier National Park in Montana, where they spend lots of time outdoors.

“The nice thing with that is that there’s dedicated swimming areas and places where we can all hang out in the water as a family,” Will said. “Those are a lot of our favorite little things that we can do that don’t really cost money.”

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Ultimately, Kristin said the destination doesn’t matter.

“We make anywhere work,” she said. “We went to Chicago … with Roam, and we walked all around and did all the things in Chicago and she loved it. Most places have parks, so we always just squeeze in a park or something for her.”

“That way we get to do the things we want to do, and she gets to do the things she wants do to,” the mother added.