we are no strangers to traveling with young kids. in fact our first lengthy road trip was taken with addison when she was just shy of three months old. now that we live quite a ways away from family and it’s extremely pricey to fly four people, we have become well versed in the classic road trip. our most recent trip was the beginning of june when all four of us and the dog packed ourselves into the minivan and drove from north carolina to wisconsin. twelve hours of driving with an 18 month old and three year old used to give me the shivers. what a nightmare that sounded like! who would do that to themselves?!
we’ve traveled this way so many times now that i have quite a bit of knowledge about what works and what doesn’t plus a few tips and tricks! it also doesn’t make me start to hyperventilate anymore 😉
i thought i would share some tips today in case you’re planning a road trip with kids this summer!
clean out your vehicle before going – make sure you get all the clutter and anything extra you don’t need out of the car. vacuum the car, make sure your oil change is up to date and tires have enough air in them and be sure to have a full tank of gas the night before. i can’t even tell you how many times we get in our car for a road trip and the gas gauge is lingering on empty. i’ll take the blame for it but it’s annoying as heck so i’m finally learning to double check that the night before.
the earlier you leave, the better – especially if it’s a long road trip, we’ve come to find if we leave the house by 4am or 5am, the girls will fall asleep in the car for at least the first three hours of the trip. and let’s be honest, the more time we can get in the car with kids not whining, the better.
have all the necessities readily available – things happen when traveling and sometimes you need things immediately. it’s so much easier to have those things up front and ready to grab than pulling over and digging around in the back. things we include are diapers and wipes, hand sanitizer, hand wipes, paper towels, extra plastic bags (for garbage, dirty clothes, etc), change of clothes for both kids. also make sure to have all the kids favorite things for a trip (ie. favorite blankets or stuffed animals, sunglasses for kids – my three year old loses her mind if the sun is in her eyes, shoes on hand if you put them in the car without shoes, travel pillow, etc).
pack a killer snack bin – half the reason our road trips are so successful i chalk up to the snacks. a large variety of snacks is key to keep kids entertained/busy. i pack a variety of healthy snacks and not so healthy snacks. some snack ideas that have worked great for us in the past:
- apple chips
- saltine crackers
- granola bars
- string cheese
- baby carrots
- cucumber slices
- juice boxes
- bottled water
have a lunch box/container you can put snacks or meals in – it’s much easier to contain lunches and snacks from spilling when you can put it all into a tin a snack container. we used something similar to a bento box where addison was able to put it on her lap and open the lid and the food was all right there. another thing that we found worked great was using silicone muffin holders to give the kids snacks. our 18 month old got a small muffin holder of one snack and our three and a half year old got numerous muffin holders with different snacks in her lunch box.
pack along new activities to keep your little ones busy – as wonderful as it is to have a dvd player in the car, i personally don’t want my children watching seven hours of movies. we try to keep the movies minimal when we are traveling so i make sure to have new activities and toys for them. our most recent batch of stuff included new books to read, coloring pages magnetically clipped to a cookie sheet and twistable crayons or washable markers, cars to “vroom” along their seats (a bit hit with our youngest), cell phones to play with, a tracing book and colored pencils, pipe cleaners to string cheerios on to. of course we also bring the iPad with some educational apps in case worse comes to worse and we still always have on hand a few favorite movies and one or two they’ve never seen before. (a small tip for stashing colored pencils is put them in an empty water bottle. they will stay much more contained that way.)
hopefully you can pick up a thing or two from this if you’re traveling this summer!