Inside: Hurricane evacuation preparedness is complex as it is. Add kids and evacuation travel and it’s insanely stressful. These tips are based on my experience evacuating FL with my two kids – how to stay positive during an evacuation trip with kids.
It seems funny to say that evacuating Florida as we faced Hurricane Irma gave me courage. Running in fear and for the safety of my children doesn’t seem all that brave. If my husband hadn’t told me to take them, I’d have weathered the storm at home with him and the kids.
You may remember how terrible traveling for our mountain vacation had been. My son spent much of the 7-hour drive up to Clarkesville, GA crying and screaming and I was a ball of anxiety once we arrived at our destination. That trip, I had my dad in the car to help me along the way. But, traveling with two small kids to escape Irma’s path, it was just me. And, for whatever reason, I though traveling to Kentucky from Florida might be a “fun adventure”. (I won’t lie … part of me just wanted to put our new Honda Odyssey to the test)
The thought of traveling alone with them scared me.
Not that I was worried about gas, flat tires, or bad people, though maybe I should have been. I was concerned one or both of my children would have me on edge and I’d be completely unable to care for them as we traveled. I was frightened of the deafening screams for attention from my son that would send my blood pressure shooting through the roof.
What could be better than listening to those screams as you’re navigating unfamiliar towns?
I was terrified my daughter would have a meltdown just afterwards, leaving me too emotionally exhausted to continue my trip. Then what? Find a hotel room in the middle of nowhere?
Thankfully, we had family scattered throughout Georgia, making our evacuation route stops shorter.
I left on a Thursday afternoon, as soon as I picked up the oldest and headed for our first destination, just a few hours away from Jacksonville. Our first stop was an easy 3 or 4-hour trip. My son amazed me and barely had an outburst.
The second stop took us about 7 hours, though it should have been a 4-hour trip. Hurricane Irma was scaring lots of Floridians out of their homes by that time. Unfortunately, many evacuees decided to take the same back country roads to avoid the major highway congestion. Unfortunately, it caused major delays in our travel time.
When I made it to our second stop, I was still in fairly good spirits. My children had been as happy and content as could be. I may even dare to say our drive was mostly pleasant. Cries and screams from the littlest were few and far between. And I could tell, when he did cry or scream, he was fighting sleep. The last leg of the trip was more exhausting and frustrating as I watched every gain in distance lead to later expected arrival time.
I was tired and I wanted out of the car.
Having arrived, the kids were still doing well. And, I decided to take my evacuation trip further the following morning with the longest trip I’d ever make with the two kids alone. It was also the longest I’d ever have driven on my own in my life.
I packed them into the car as early as we could gather our things and we hit the road to Kentucky. I wanted out of the evacuation traffic and decided to visit family near Louisville. whom I hadn’t seen in years.
My husband and father were concerned and I’m pretty certain they tried to convince me to stay put. But, I’d made it halfway to Kentucky and I was feeling bold. So we packed up for a final 8-hour drive and we made it with our sanity in-tact.
This is the reason for this post! I had to constantly remind myself of all the good to stay positive during an evacuation trip with kids!
This is the last of the 5-part Emergency Preparedness for Families Series:
- Discussing the types of disasters to prepare for as a family
- How to Make an Emergency Preparedness Plan For Your Family
- Survival Food Storage Ideas for Families in a Disaster
- Must-Have Supplies for Your Family Disaster Survival Kit
- How to Stay Positive During an Evacuation Trip with Kids (this post)
BONUS: Come back Saturday for a special post about the types of things I recommend packing for an evacuation trip with kids.
13 Tips to Stay Positive During An Evacuation Trip With Kids
I knew the trip was going to be interesting. Without my husband, there were a number of problems I could have encountered. But, I knew we had to make the best of the situation. I never let on to my kids just how much stress I was feeling. I was honest with the oldest, just to let her know I needed as much cooperation as possible.
Thankfully, we had an almost perfect trip, so I’m sharing these tips to stay positive during an evacuation trip with kids!
- Call on Family. Even family members you haven’t seen or spoken to in years will be happy to host you at their house and offer shelter from the storm. This is a great time for an unplanned family reunion, of sorts.
- Screen time rules are out. Load up on movies and electronic devices and delight in the silence when you can!
- Pack a crap ton of snacks…. maybe two crap tons. Kids get hungry at random times and it’s not going to be fun to stop at every whim. Nor is listening to the kids if you don’t have enough.
- Don’t worry about keeping the car clean. After a week, it’ll look like you’ve been living out the van, even if you take an hour to clean it one day during your trip.
- Forget about being healthy or having rounded meals. Sometimes it’s not feasible to stop when the kids are hungry, so they just have to wait. But, kids aren’t the most patient when it comes to food. Am I right? Throw some of those gummy bunnies in the back seat and let them tear into it in the name of your sanity.
- Keep your perspective. No matter what happens on your trip, keep your perspective and stay positive. Be grateful you have the opportunity to evacuate because some people don’t have a choice. Things could be worse!
- Pretend you’re on vacation. Make sure to point out landmarks and special sights your kids don’t often see or won’t see for a long time. Enjoy the scenery! Go see some sights when you get to your final destination. Your kids will appreciate the unexpected vacation!
- Love everyone. Remember that some of the most important people are right there in the car with you. Love them and be happy you’ve done everything you could to spare them from the disaster and aftermath of the storm.
- Be kind and courteous. Chances are, if you’re evacuating your city (or state) due to an impending hurricane, you’re going to encounter other evacuees. Don’t add to anyone else’s stress by being rude, inconsiderate, or sour. At the very least, wear a smile on your face and be friendly. You never know whose day you’ll brighten just with a smile.
- Slow down. Whether you’re just leaving or returning from your trip, it’s important to remember the purpose of your evacuation … safety of your loved ones. Being in a rush can cause the opposite outcome you were hoping for. Take your time and avoid speeding or road rage. The last thing you want to happen is to get into an accident after avoiding a devastating storm.
- Pack more than you think you’ll need. I was gone a week and ended up in Kentucky. I had to do laundry once on our trip and I didn’t pack pants for everyone. OOPS! The weather was cooler at our final destination and so were some thermostats at my family’s houses. Pants and sweaters were necessary! To keep on an even keel, you don’t want more work than you have to do if you’re traveling under these conditions.
- Don’t place orders for delivery while you’re on travel. Delays from before the hurricane meant delays after. Even if you come home unscathed doesn’t mean deliveries and jobs are unaffected.
- Be patient and kind when you return. People and businesses are doing extra work to get back on track. Everyone is drained and moody from being without power, debris cleanup, and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for days. Your rush or perceived significance is no greater than anyone else’s and only makes things worse for everyone.
If you like all my tips, and have found my emergency preparedness series useful, don’t forget to click below to sign up for my newsletter. You’ll get immediate access to a Family Emergency Preparedness Workbook along with a full library of printable resources for parents.
Tell me: will you use these tips to stay positive during an evacuation trip with kids?