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Monday, November 18, 2013

7 tips for a successful road trip with littles

I'm sure you are fully aware but the holiday season is upon us and with that often comes road trips to see family. Sometimes it's an easy 3 hour drive or even better family comes to you but other times it's a long 7.5 hour before adding in time for potty stops with 3 littles. In the second case it really pays to be prepared. I'm happy to say we did that this past weekend and survived with minor fussing from the littles.

1. Avoid a hungry, thirsty belly at all costs!
Pack lots of easy to pass out snacks, preferably ones that aren't too crumbly so they won't make too big a mess. In our case it was prepackaged snacks of Scooby grahams, chocolate teddy grams, gummies, squeeze applesauces and animal crackers. Pack more than you think you'll need - we went through a ton - I didn't think they'd eat dinner but somehow they still found room. Pack drinks as well as cups with lids to avoid spills (take and toss cups are great!) It makes it so much easier to just have this ready to go and pass out when you need it than to have to wait for a gas station when the "I'm hungry" cries start. . Bring a bag (or 5) to throw the trash in and clean it out every time you stop and you will have a much easier time cleaning out the car when you return!

2. Little potty
In our case, we've got a potty training toddler and not all gas stations are a Bucess with super clean bathrooms. Plus driving on smaller highways, you never know when you are going to get an emergency I need to potty now and you aren't close to a rest stop yet. So the little potty travels along with us.

3. Backpacks or a small toy bucket/bag for each little one
In each kids backpack they got to bring a couple favorite books, their leappads and one favorite toy. Also a notebook and some crayons to color or write. I limit the number of toys so their isn't as much to potentially get lost and have stuff everywhere. I also brought their cozy blankets and pillows for nap and driving at nighttime. Having a backpack for each means it's accessible to them and there is a place for it all so it's not all over the floor of the car.

4. Be prepared
Charge all devices before leaving - leappad batteries, ipads, portable dvd players, phones. A car charger is also really nice to have for those longer drives in case batteries run out. Technology really is a wonderful friend when traveling with little ones. I still don't stick them in front of a movie the whole trip but it is nice to have one when everyone really starts getting antsy.

The second part of being prepared - a small candy to pass out as rewards. I'm not above bribery and rewarding good behavior on a long trip. Skittles are nice because I can give them one, two at a time. These also work to calm down a small toddler if you are 30 minutes from stopping and they woke up from a nap grumpy. I've seen different ideas for encouraging good behavior on car trips on pinterest with clothes pins but two of mine are too little to really get it so an easy small reward is perfect for us.

5. Drive while they sleep
If you can plan your trip to drive while they sleep - when we travel to Gigi and Pops I can drive 75% of the trip during naptime and it means the trip flies by for them! This trip we left at naptime and arrived after bedtime so they slept between 1/4- 1/3 of the trip on the way there. The way home we left after bedtime and drove through the night - I slept the 3 hours before we left and the first two of the trip then we switched and Beau slept some while I drove and then switched back for the rest of the trip. If you do it that way be sure to be safe and rest if you need it.  The return trip was 4 hours shorter than the drive there by doing it this way though! We arrived home just in time for breakfast and rewarded the littles good behavior with donuts and some Sunday morning cartoons.

6.  Take a break and don't stress 
If the littles need a break or the drivers need a break - take it. Camp out at a McDonalds playland with a coke or a sweet tea for 45 minutes and let them run off some energy.  Some of the newer Texas rest stops have a nice playground outside if the weather is favorable - fresh air and playtime. Everyone will be in a better mood afterwards.

Try not to leave at the last minute possible where if you hit road construction, traffic, a flat tire, need a long break to stretch your legs that you are going to be pressed for time. On a long road trip - it's going to be long anyway. No sense in starting out your holidays on a stressful note because you are annoyed at the Austin traffic you hit at 2 in the afternoon when there shouldn't be traffic. You'll get there eventually and there isn't anything you can do about road construction.

7. Enjoy the quality time with your family 
Play games, learn what everyone's (current) favorite things are, what's been happening at school, make up stories together. Don't hog the conversation though - let everyone have a turn!

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1 comment :

Colleen Pence said...

So many good ideas here, Katie. You must be a pro at traveling with little ones!