Tomorrow night is the night. The night I’ve been dreading and looking forward to for about a month now. We’re packing the toddlers up and heading out on a long trip from Florida to North Carolina to visit with family. I’m hoping for the best and trying to keep a positive outlook, because quite honestly my kids feed off my energy and if I’m calm there’s a better chance they stay calm. Everything is so last minute though…I’ve literally not packed one thing yet or even gotten out the suitcases. I’ve ordered things online that will hopefully ease our travel (thank you Amazon Prime!) and I’ve done tons of (Pinterest) research so I decided to round it all up and share my survival tactics for this trip!
Ask anyone and the number one thing they say (tied with the next suggestion) is pack ALL THE SNACKS! Leave the sugary snacks behind though…no one needs a sugar high while strapped in a car seat. Things could get ugly. Also I will be trying to avoid salty foods too which tend to cause increased thirst and frequent bathroom breaks.
- granola bars
- trail mix
- baby/toddler pouches
- dried fruit
- goldfish or cheddar bunnies (Annie’s is our fav brand lately)
- string cheese
- pretzels (low sodium)
- dried cereals like Cheerios
We’ll be packing our CleverMade collapsible cooler with things like fresh fruit, cheese sticks, water, Gatorade (for my husband), and breakfast items we’ll be using the morning we arrive. I don’t want to have to head directly to the grocery store when we first get there.
TIMING YOUR DEPARTURE
Timing is ALWAYS key with kids. If at all possible, plan to leave when the kids are usually sleeping. This will buy you several peaceful hours of uninterrupted drive time along with less traffic on the road.
Anything we may use in the car, like diapers, wipes, and entertainment, will go in a separate, easily accessible bag in the main part of the car. All pool items like the kids’ safety devices, swimwear, towels, and sunscreen will go in a separate bag. Their everyday outfits will be rolled up to minimize space. I love packing things that are mix + match in case they spill something on their shorts then I won’t need to change the whole outfit, just the item that is dirty. (Check out this collection of super affordable mix + match kids clothing.)
If you have a potty trained little toddler, it may be a good idea to pack a portable potty/diaper changing station. (Check out this post on traveling with toddlers: POOP HAPPENS LOL)
We’re lucky enough to have access to a minivan. Hooray! So most of the packed items will go in the far back with space for changing the kids. My husband will most likely do all the driving (and he’s OK with that!). So I will alternate between the front passenger seat and sitting between the two car seats in the middle row. When they’re sleeping I will most likely be upfront.
Tip: Be sure car seats are PROPERLY installed before heading out on the road! Make sure all pertinent car info is properly stowed in the glove compartment and any safety equipment like jumper cables, first-ad kits are packed.
PIT STOPS AND MEAL BREAKS
If you’re traveling with little babies, plan to take breaks around their feeding times. For toddlers, you may need to be more on-the-fly depending on when their bladder strikes or restlessness occurs. Download an app like iExit to find kid friendly restaurants with play areas, lodging, and gas stations. While I know my husband would be able to make this drive in one shot…my kids just aren’t on that wave length. Be flexible and plan to stop.
Last, but certainly not least….bring plenty of entertainment for the kids! Make sure iPads and tablets are fully charged, pack headphones to save your ears and battling volumes with multiple kids. I snagged some super cheap coloring books and tiny toys from the Dollar Store and Target Dollar Spot. It’s a good idea to bring items your toddlers haven’t seen before. They’re far more likely to get longer play time out of them.
- Sticker books
- Color Wonder markers/coloring books
- magnetic toys with a cookie sheet (We love Shape Mags! Read all about them here.)
- iPad/tablet with games/movies
- Blank notepads and colored pencils
- Flashcards/matching games (paired with the cookie sheet)
Tip: Keep all entertainment items packed away and SLOWLY bring them out when your child appears to be getting bored and restless.
One more thing….make sure to pack any comforts of home! If your child sleeps with a special lovey, teddy bear or blanket make sure to pack it! My oldest must have her blankie, while the younger one always sleeps in a special sleeper along with his Mickey stuffed toy. Those will go right in the car seats with them.