6 Tips for Traveling with Kids
We recently got back from a road trip with our two kiddos. We drove from Georgia to Texas (and back!) and it was our first major trip with both kids.
I was a bit worried about the trip beforehand and I had a lot of questions swirling in my head: How would the kids do with the long car ride? How many extra stops will we have to make? Will I be able to keep on a fairly normal bedtime schedule? Clearly, my anxiety was on high before (and during) the trip.
To make the trip easier, I decided to do a few things that I thought would help maintain a sense of calm and, frankly, things I thought would keep me sane! I hope these tips help you, too.
Travel Tip #1: Clean Your Home Before You Leave
I cleaned my entire home throughout the week before our trip. I did all of the laundry, made the beds, vacuumed, swept, mopped, cleaned the kitchen counter-tops, and cleaned the bathrooms.
This may sound a bit overboard, but I am telling you that when we came home from our exhausting week-long trip with two young kids to an immaculate house - it made me feel so much happier and calmer!
Not only was the house super clean, but I had also ensured that my plug in scents were full so our home smelled like Fresh Lilacs upon entering. (I use the Wallflowers from Bath&BodyWorks/White Barn)
Travel Tip #2: Bring Toilet Paper and Pump Soap
This is a weird one, I know. If you are staying in a hotel, bring your own toilet paper and pump soap. No, this has nothing to do with being overly sensitive about the cleanliness of a hotel room. This is because the toilet paper SUCKS in hotels! It is one-ply and super rough and I HATE it. I also do not like washing my hands with bar soap, which is what [most] hotels provide.
Travel Tip #3: Ensure a Variety of Activities
First, make sure you have a variety of activities for the car ride. Each of my kids (yes, even the toddler) had their own "car bag" to hold different things they can do in the car. My daughter had: about 10 books, coloring books, a pack of markers, her tablet, blank paper, and a Mad Libs. My son had: 4 board books, a toy train, a coloring book, and 2 jumbo crayons. We also had a portable DVD player that we put on the headrest and brought 4 Disney/Pixar movies.
Second, make sure you have activities planned for your destination. We were visiting my in-laws who live in the country about 30 miles from any major city. My MIL was able to search and find pretty cool places nearby that we went to during our visit (that post to come in the future). Remember that I have a toddler and a daughter with ADHD - so it was kind of imperative that they have lots of things to do.
Travel Tip #4: If You Don't Own a Minivan, Rent One!
We do not own a minivan and the SUV we have is one of those small ones. I drive a Ford Fusion car. I am NOT a minivan kind of mom/person.
But y'all - I cannot imagine how awful driving to Texas in our tiny cars would have been! Renting a minivan was AMAZING. The kids had so much room to put their car bags and blankets and they both had tons of room to wiggle in their seats!
We also were able to use the van to drive around to the activities because we could fit everyone. It was ideal for the trip we made and I totally understand the appeal of the minivan. It was perfect for our trip...but I still won't be buying one. ;-)
Travel Tip #5: Try to "Go With the Flow"
I am a control freak. I like things to be a certain way and I tend not to cope well with changes to the plans or even to my expectations. I am a little like Monica from Friends. But on occasions like these, I have to try to channel my inner Phoebe and try to just go with the flow.
Stuff happens and kids are unpredictable. I had to keep remembering this and it helped so much for me to stay calm. Of course there were times when I was feeling crazy anxious and stressed because Lylah wouldn't stop talking or Ben was crying for 30 minutes straight, but for the most part, I was ok.
I didn't make any plans. I didn't schedule times to stop. Seriously, y'all - these are things I normally do and I had to stop myself from doing them. Because there was no way I was going to be able to control that. So, we stopped when we wanted to; we ate when we needed to; we went to places that everyone agreed on and it all turned out ok!
Travel Tip #6: Pack with Efficiency in Mind
I am going to do a full post about how I packed for this trip, but I still wanted to mention it here. Pack everything with the mind-set that you may need to get to things quickly. Be SUPER organized! I am talking about every. single. bag.
Kid's Suitcases: They both had their own kid suitcase. Each outfit was put together and placed into a gallon Ziplock bag. Miscellaneous items such as swimsuits were rolled/folded and placed neatly on the sides. Once an outfit was taken out of the bag, the Ziplock was used to store the dirty clothes. When I got home, all I did was dump each bag into the washer.
Our Suitcase: Matt and I shared one. I rolled and folded. His clothes were on one side, mine on the other. Shoes were placed in a zipper part of the inside of the suitcase. Toiletries and hair products were placed in the outside zipper parts.
Car Bags: The kids had their own (as explained above). Matt didn't have one because he was driving. I had the diaper bag for Ben. Snacks were placed in Ben's car bag and the diaper bag. Each bag was neatly organized.
Overall, it was a good and successful trip and I attribute some of that to these tips! I hope these tips help you as much as they helped me.