Yesterday I shared a recap of our family road trip. Today I’ll share (dramatic voice)
how we survived!
It really wasn’t that dramatic. Let me start by repeating that I over-prepared for the whole thing and I am so happy that I did. Before kids I was a much more we’ll figure it out as we go kind of person (spontaneous Barnes & Noble, movie, then cupcakes trip, Chiritita?) But with kids, I find that the stress of figuring everything out beforehand is completely worth it for a less stressful experience overall.
How to Survive a Road Trip with Kids:
- Music that you also enjoy
- Favorite books and kid magazines
- Car-friendly activities
- TONS of snacks and drinks
Audiobooks: We got the William Steig collection (Shrek, Brave Irene, Dr. DeSoto…etc.), Curious George, and I Love You, Stinkyface. We’ve been listening to I Love You, Stinkyface in the car on the way back from camp for a bit now and I love how Aiden mouths the words along with the narrator and then when we get home he likes to ask me “Mama, but Mama what if I were stinky?!” and then he cracks up.
The best was really the William Steig collection. The stories are read by Stanley Tucci and Meryl Streep who are obviously both fantastic and Aiden just loves randomly calling out phrases from the stories “a pheasant? What a pleasant present!”
Music: We’ve tried cultivating an appreciation for music we like and so far Aiden is a fan of the Beatles, Warren Zevon “Werewolves of London” and The Who “Baba O’ Riley”. The closest thing we had to “kids music” was The Green Album from the Muppets (which secretly was for us) and it tickles me to no end when Aiden sings “Mahna Mahna” or “Rainbow Connection”. It’s a long drive for us too.
Books and Magazines: We signed up for Highlights High Five about a year ago and are so happy we did, Aiden loooooves it and gets so excited when it comes in the mail. Plus he’s a sponge and retains every bit of information he learns in there so I feel like it’s a solid investment. He’s also gotten really into animals lately because of Diego so my mom got him a National Geographic Little Kids subscription and it’s just getting embarrassing how much more he knows than we do. We also threw in some of his favorite books which he didn’t touch because he was too busy listening to the audiobooks and coloring or playing with stickers.
Car-Friendly Activities: For Aiden this meant we brought this Color Wonder Travel Tote (so he could use markers without me worrying that Mia would have new facial designs when we next looked) this Melissa and Doug reusable sticker pad (occupied him almost the entire time), crayons and a small notebook in a travel wipes box, and a small magna doodle we got at a birthday party. The underlying theme was: things that Aiden could be creative with that couldn’t make much of a mess. It was a total win.
For Mia, we brought a couple of board books, some stuffed animals she threw around, these teether keys (our most successful car toy for her), this Skip Hop car mirror (she couldn’t care less and we couldn’t see her in it because it won’t stay up), and this VTech computer someone got for Aiden a couple years ago (It gave us about five minutes of entertainment for her). We also brought this sleep sheep in the hopes that she might sleep in the car. Read this post to see how that went. In the end, Mia just wanted company. She was happy to sit and gnaw on anything she could find as long as she had eye contact with someone and Aiden was extremely busy so after the first hour (he fell asleep and) I climbed into the back.
Snacks and Drinks: We stuck with easy-to-grab non perishables like cereal bars, small bags of Cheerios, mini waffles, cashews, homemade trail mix, and Trader Joe’s Fruit Sauce Crushers among other things. The plan was to also bring apple slices, baby carrots, string cheese, and celery sticks, but the road trip being right after we got back from Chicago, we flat out forgot. We also made sure to have small water bottles, some small juice boxes (we don’t usually have juice at home but this was vacation and kids never seem to finish the big ones), and small gatorades because I tend to dehydrate easily and for some reason gatorade does it for me when water doesn’t (even though that seems a little counterintuitive to me). Another really good thing we did was get single bottles of ready to pour formula which made our lives so much easier on this trip.
We also made sure to have lots of just-in-case things like wet wipes, paper towels, a blanket for each kid, a change of clothes for each kid, sunblock, and extra bags.
My last stellar piece of advice (which I got from a woman standing in line next to me in Walgreens, so thank her when you see her): keep the bags where your kid can reach them. We had snacks in one bag and activities in another, both next to Aiden so when he wanted something, he just took it for himself saving all of us a lot of aggravation. He loved being independent, I loved not reaching behind me every two minutes.
Things we had that we didn’t use: a neck pillow, a tray for Aiden’s carseat, a booster seat for Mia. The neck pillow and the tray for Aiden were a personal preference on his part and we had those things before. The booster seat we ended up not needing because everywhere we went had a highchair, but it didn’t take up much space so it wasn’t a total loss and if we hadn’t brought it then obviously we would have needed it desperately because that’s how things work with kids.
So, if you are planning a trip with kids any time soon, I’d suggest to stock up on these things and most of all, stay as flexible as you can (if you can). We were later than we expected, the kids didn’t sleep much (as expected), but we had a great time!
I hope this helps and if you have any questions about what did or didn’t work for us, any tips of your own, or better yet funny stories share in the comments!