Here are a few road trip tips from a Mama who’s been traveling with kids for many years. As the holidays approach, many of us will be going on road trips; I learned a few trips through the years of traveling with my stepsons and my children.
Top four must-haves
Let’s start with cleaning supplies; why clean supplies on a road trip? Well, because accidents happen. Unfortunately, I have been caught without having anything to clean up blowouts (when babies/toddlers still in diapers poop so badly it comes out of the diaper), vomit, and just the regular spills and messes that come along with road trips. I have a reusable bag with the following supplies. Clorox/Lysol wipes, paper towels, garbage bags, extra baby wipes, Ziploc bags, air freshener and disinfectant spray, last but not least, doggy pads. It might sound odd, but when traveling with babies and small children, they make for great car seat protectors from blowouts and vomit, insert garbage bags here for spoiled clothes, wet clothes, etc.
Snacks And More Snacks
Snacks on a road trip are a must-have for us for two reasons: they are ALWAYS hungry, and it’s cheaper than buying snacks every time you stop for gas or service plazas. Having snacks on hand also helps buy yourself some time to the next available stop. Sometimes, you may find yourself unable to find a place to eat, depending on the time of day/night. We have a “snack box” filled with everyone’s favorites, yes, dads and moms choices included. Here is where the garbage bags come into play again; they keep the car much cleaner. Sippy cups, baby bottles, water bottles, and other beverages are included in our snack box/bag.
Entertainment and Games
Entertainment comes in many different forms for us. Movies are a must! We have a variety of movies for each of the kids’ interests and ages. Everyone gets a turn to pick what we watch next. I have a backpack always ready for our next adventure with coloring supplies, coloring books, blank pads, stickers and sticker books, books to read, cars to play with, dolls, pop its; again, interests for each child based on interest and age. I rotate these toys and books out so that they are not bored of the same items each trip, especially when we travel more often. The key is don’t bring it all out at once. Spread out the entertainment as long as possible. Sometimes I will throw in wrapped little dollar tree toys during the holidays and give them each to open and play with. Lastly, when all else has been exhausted, we bring out the fully charged (don’t forget the chargers!) iPads. Yes, I am that mom who will allow screen time (monitored and within time limits) for my kids, especially on long road trips. We love to sing and tell stories. Playing games such as I spy is great entertainment; the possibilities are endless with road trip games. Make them up as you go along; we play how many animals we see on the side of the road or name the license plates!
Clothes And Comfort
Lastly, I pack them for comfort. If they are comfortable, it makes the ride so much more enjoyable. If they wear comfy clothes to travel in and crocs/sandals so that they can take their shoes off while in the car and it’s quick to put them on to get out for a stretch and bathroom breaks. Extra clothes are always on hand too in case of spills or accidents and change of weather. Often they start the trip off in shorts and t-shirts, and as we go along, they need to change into long sleeves and pants. I always travel with sweaters and blankets for them. They love their blankets to snuggle and nap within the car; the older ones have travel pillows with them too.
Pumping mommas, I have a few tips that worked for me. I had a dedicated cooler with ice just for my breastmilk (less in and out of the cooler, the longer it stays cold); I brought my car adaptor as well as the battery pack for pumping. I carried in my bag the wipes to clean the parts in between pumps until I could get to our destination to clean them well. Extra pumping supplies, baggies, and batteries went into my pumping backpack as well.
Most importantly, remember these are memories in the making that will last a lifetime. My older sons still talk about our road trips, especially our eventful one when our car broke down on the side of the road. That’s a story for another day!
It can get stressful at times, especially on longer road trips; try to “flip the script,” play music or stop to get out for a bit of stretch.
Enjoy the ride!