If you’ve taken a road trip with your kids, you know it’s no easy task. There’s just no easy way to entertain a 3 year old. There are times when that summer road trip is just not worth it. You can never pack enough stuff making it impossible to move around and yet you still manage to forget something. Sounds familiar? We’d like to change that and turn that summer road trip to something more fun and enjoyable. A road trip you’ll want to talk about for years to come.
I am MOM, master of road trips and everything else that come along with it. I start my planning process way, way in advance. We’ve all been there and know; things just tend to happen when we’re least prepared. I still do my best to make it as stress-free as possible and I’m here to share my tips with you.
When planning a road trip, it’s best to travel around the time you kids usually go to bed. It may be a bit dark, but you can drive in peace and quiet with zero background noise to distract you. We understand that traveling at night is not everyone’s preferred time of travel, but for us it works best. There’s no need to leave at midnight, but after dinner is the favorite time for us. A cup of iced coffee, some cool music and we are ready to roll. This actually gives my husband and I time to reconnect.
If your kids have outgrown the sleeping stage, where you place them in the car seat and they just doze right off? You’ll need things to keep them entertained and comfortable. We have the perfect blueprint just for you. We promise your next road trip will surely be more enjoyable, for everyone.
What to pack for a serene and comfortable summer road trip next time you journey with your family.
Road Trip Necessities:
We don’t need reminding, but eating is a huge number one activity when on a road trip. There’s just not much to do except eat and enjoy the beautiful views along the way. Pack a cooler with some finger foods that will not create a mess by placing all the items in disposable containers. They are cheap, clean and usually have covers. There’s no mess to clean up and no dishes to wash when you get home after your road trip. Be selective and chose healthy snacks. Your kids will be happy you packed anything at all and will most likely eat whatever you serve.
Don’t forget to pack enough water to last the entire trip. We promise if you bring it, they’ll drink it. Don’t dump the entire 24 pack of water in the bag, the heat will affect the water and you’ll have to throw it away. A small portable cooler will do the trick. Buying water along the way can sometimes get expensive. This is where pre-planning comes in. Buy your water when on sale and you are off to complete hydration. A penny saver but most important, and there’s no need to make that extra stop.
May sound like a bit too much, but a portable potty as well as some seat covers is crucial on your trip with a child. Better safe than sorry is what my mom still says today. You just never know when they’ll need to go and rest areas are not as close, causing accidents to happen in the car. If your children are a bit older, you’ll be glad that you prepared. Not every public rest area offers that luxury.
When packing a diaper bag, bring along more than just one change of clothes. If your child gets sickness motion, there’s a huge chance, they’ll get sick again. Be prepared to change them more than twice. Or you’ll find yourself in a sticky situation. Not a pretty site I must admit and the smell just seems to stay with you forever.
If you could manage to think of it, bring something your child can use to hold their food, toys and electronic devices on. If the car seat doesn’t already come with it, this is something to invest in. You don’t want them dropping anything on the floor. Getting to that back seat is very difficult and will probably cause you to make a stop. Your goal is to keep them comfortable while saving time on driving.
An organizer that hangs over the front seat is a life saver. Including items such as coloring books, reading material, stickers and such will teach your child to grab what they need when they need it. It will also teach them organization skills. They will learn to keep their toys and other items where they belong so when they need something, they know where to get it. A hard concept for children to understand, but a visual display of what you are trying to teach them will help.
We all know traveling long distance makes a huge mess, even for adults. When traveling with little ones, there’s usually garbage found in places that one just never anticipates. Include some small garbage bags in closed containers; it will keep the smell contained. Check the container before disposing of garbage. You don’t want to discover your kids toys have been thrown away in the process of cleaning up, they will be devastated.
If you’re bringing any electronic devices such as a tablet, camera or even your cell phone it helps to keep things organized by placing everything into one small bag to include charging devices for them all. That way there’s never a loss of wires and charging devices when the time comes and they will all be in one place. If you already have an organizer, great. If not, a make-up pouch works great for us. It’s colorful, easily access and holds everything together well.
I can’t say it enough, but movies are the best form of entertainment for at least 2 hours. Ask the child for their opinion of what they prefer to watch while you’re in route to your vacation destination. You’ll be surprised, but kids do know what they enjoy and will probably have no problem expressing that to you even if they’re toddlers.
Sing along music that’s familiar to them as well as you. If your child is into Disney movies which offer a selection of catchy tunes, then download a few you already know and sing along your way to your destination. Moana is a favorite one of ours.
Practically every child today has a tablet. If it’s not an iPad, it’s something very similar. It’s a great device to take along on your summer road trip. Download your child’s movies, music and books for easy access later. It’s light and comes in protective devices to keep from breaking. Grab one with you but don’t forget to charge it before leaving.
If you’re traveling with more than one child, I would not recommend for you to include any electronic toys on your trip. More than one instrument or device screaming at the same time will cause too much commotion and will therefore increase tension in the car. Unless you’re a family who loves to create music together, then leave the guitars at home. Two sets of headphones should be brought because they will never seem to agree on anything.
If your kids are old enough to understand what a journal is, teach them to bring one along on your road trip and write about their experience traveling to different places they visited with their family. It’s a great way to document the little moments from your child’s perspective and have them read it later. These are the little memories we live for. Create them with your little ones and you’ll be surprised at the joy you’ll receive when finding them later on in life.
There are tons of games you can play with your kids that can include the entire family but what if you’re kids are older and harder to entertain. For older kids that need more of a challenge. Have them read the signs along the highway and describe what each one means or represents. If your kids are too young for that, the color representation will be enough for them to learn something while killing time.
Talk about the states you’re travelling through and what important points of interest they have that will be fascinating for your child to hear about. You may have to do some research in advance, but they will always remember that time together talking and laughing and learning as a family. It’s also a great time to make a stop along the way and take some great pictures while the kids stretch their legs and run around a bit.
Your emergency bag should contain all the common items such as First Aid Kit, food, water and of course survival item such as matches, flash lights and a little pocket knife.
Bring an extra blanket even if it’s a summer trip. It’s very common for children to get motion sickness and throwing up in your new car will leave that smell in there for quite some time. Once you clean the spot, you’ll need something to cover it so you can continue on with your road trip and your kids still have a clean place to sit.
Gets a sickness bag and stock it with essential that will help with motion sickness before and after. Items such as plastic bags, wipes, crackers, some paper towels, and motion sickness meds if really necessary.
If you think one package of baby wipes will be enough, you are wrong. You’ll be surprised how quickly they seem to disappear when on a road trip with your children. Do yourself a favor a pack an extra package just in case. You’re bound to use them anyway, so bring another along and save yourself a trip to the store.
Your next road trip may be a challenge, you’ll probably be tired and bruised, but the memories that you’ll make together will last you a lifetime. You’re organized, prepared, packed and ready to go. What could be better than that? You let us know how it all worked out for you!
Enjoy your trip and send us a post card! 😉
By: Ida L