My family and I have made many road trips. Living in Colorado for the military and all of our family was located in Arizona or Illinois made for some very long trips! I’ve put together a list of our road tripping with kids survival guide!
First, our life saver was to travel when we knew our kids were most likely to be napping or sleeping. When our kids were very tiny they obviously slept all the time but as they got older we had to plan our trips around nap time. We made a lot of trips over night and although it was harder on us adults, it was fabulous for our kids. We would usually pack up to head out around 8 pm or so just as bed time would set in. We would grab our kiddos favorite night time must haves and hit the road. Often times they would give us until 5-6 am before they started to become restless which was usually the bulk of our trips anyway. Worked out perfect!
If we were road tripping during the day we always made sure to stop and get out for at least one meal. This ensured that we weren’t just eating junk food while driving and gave everyone a chance to stretch their legs. It didn’t have to be at a restaurant per say, but rather than running through the drive through at fast food places we got out and had our lunch inside. If you’ve got time to spare, find a place with a play area and let the kiddos burn off some steam. We often found that once the kids had full bellies and some energy out they would fall right back asleep while driving!
Entertainment for kids (of any age!) is a must. Obviously older kids can self entertain a bit better than younger ones and have more of a say as to what they want to bring. Always remember to bring extra batteries or car chargers for any sort of electronic things (batteries on the road are NOT cheap!). For the younger crowd, bring lots of variety.
Lap desks can be found at many major retail chains and are wonderful for car trips. Ours have legs that fold out and the tops open for storage. They have been major life savers. Each kid gets one and then inside them we keep their favorite crayons and small toys. My kids LOVE to color on road trips. Books and other QUITE toys are great. If you have DVD players already in your car make sure to have lots of movies or tv episode type dvd’s for your kids to enjoy. Take turns picking the DVD’s to reduce fights! If you don’t have DVD players already installed you have many great choices from kid friendly rough and tough DVD players to personal DVD players that can be bought from major electronic stores for around $100 a pair. I always keep a box of toys between my kids car seats so they can pick their own toys as we drive along and aren’t constantly screaming for me to get them something from the back of the car.
Kid friendly snacks are a must. We love our Munchkin Snack Cups (for travel and at home!). They provide a snack cup with a ‘non’ spill lid where kids can reach their hands into the cup pull out their snack and they don’t leave a mess in the mean time. They are wonderful for self feeders and are easy to carry around.
Make sure that kids are in COMFY clothing! We always travel in Pj’s or sweats and t-shirts. Remember layering is the best way to go in the car. It’s a lot easier to take of a sweatshirt then to have to completely stop and change shirts because your kids are too hot. We love our Skidders shoes for road trips. They are similar to socks but offer a rubber sole to make it easy for getting in and out of the car without having to fumble around for shoes. Stay tuned for my upcoming in depth review of these WONDERFUL must have baby & kid product!
Organization is a must during road trips! Pack toys and activities in easy to open plastic tubs. This keeps them from being smashed when climbed over and keeps everything neat and tidy. It also gives you a leg to stand on when Johnny wants to bring more junk.. er.. toys then can fit in ‘his car approved travel box!’. Make sure to keep a trash bag going at all times so when you stop for gas or potty breaks you can quickly collect your bag of trash and toss it! This also makes after road trip clean up a breeze!
And always remember if you’d like to arrive to your destination with some sanity left, just fly