There are so many tips, tricks, and hacks out there to help you through your travels. Organizing, packaging, food, toys, books, stops, rewards, etc. It can be, and it was, overwhelming!
I’m not the best planner, nor a type-A person.
I enjoy living life with some organization and some planning, but I don’t go crazy over it. However, that being said, I have found myself planning more often and doing my best to think of different scenarios ahead of time in order to be ready for them. I think that’s what happens when you become a mom. The more prepared you are, the more in control you feel and the more mentally ready you are to handle a situation.
In my efforts of preparing for a four-day road trip from Cincinnati to St.George, Utah, I ended up packing so much more than I actually needed. This realization later helped me with my trip from Cincinnati to London, Ontario. Lesson: less is more!
Here’s what I learned, what worked, what didn’t, and what you just have to accept.
Using mesh bags to pack outfits for the kids to make it easier for them was extra.
The mesh bags would get tangled up with each other because of the end of the zipper. Maybe I bought a cheap one? In the future, I’ll instead use Ziploc bags. PLUS if your baggage happens to get wet, clothes will stay dry! It did make it easy for the kids to go through and pick out a bag, but it was tough when they wanted to match clothes a different way than packed. Meh… not the end of the world.
Putting PJ’s, toiletries, and a change of clothes in their backpacks for each stop simplified things so much.
When we would check into a hotel for our nightly pit-stop, having just what they needed helped them so much! It was simple and fast. All dirty clothes went in another bag. This is where individual outfit bags came in handy.
Breaking up the trip was tricky.
We did our best to stop every 2-3 hours and traveled during the day. Getting them to swim at the hotel before leaving helped us so much! They could stay calm, watch a movie, and shortly thereafter fall asleep.
Bring a potty if you can (or have a dedicated empty water bottle for boys).
Sounds gross but this helped both my kids. Some may feel unsafe to let the kids get out of their seats and use the potty while still in motion. You can pull over and stop to let them use it. Having a boy was funny; hence the dedicated empty bottle! They’re so lucky in that manner! This trick helped us two times with my daughter and multiple times with my son. Bonus – no wet car seats!
Keep it simple!
I packed so many fidget toys, games, books, and movies for them to stay entertained and occupied. I had organized them into those binder pencil cases with a window to see what’s inside. I had five for each and five for me. Too much! One case for each would have been enough with maybe two to four fidget toys… and that’s it! I also brought their scribble boards. On the trip to Canada, I chucked the cases and had them put their toys and snacks into their small toddler backpacks. That way, whatever they wanted was in their backpacks.
Insulated water bottles are a must!
We have the Funtainer ones from Thermos. Loved this the most because their water would stay cool and fresh between stops. These also fit nicely in their car seat cup holders. I’ve tried others, but the bottle is too fat. It helps you, too! Drinking water is a must and drinking warm/hot water is no fun.
Screen time is ok!
We have a DVD player and brought movies. I had about 10 movies and am keeping them in the car. I also brought an HDMI cable to stream from my phone. It has to be one that allows streaming from Netflix. This was nice because then other passengers could watch something they wanted while kids were sleeping.
I always have snacks with me!
So traveling without food is tough for me. Some people will buy some snacks along the way. We packed granola bars (don’t get the chocolate ones as they can still melt!), fruit snacks or fruit bars or both, apples, grapes, veggie straws, cashews, and some chips. We put food in a cooler bag so that when it was empty, we could pack it up and it didn’t take up much space.
A garbage can is helpful, too!
Bring a bathroom garbage can and some extra grocery bags. Every time we stopped we emptied it out.
Things will happen. Things won’t happen. Things may get a little stressful… but whatever the situation, it’s temporary. So try to make the best of your next road trip. Hope this helps you and your family!