If you have traveled with children before, you know that "what can go wrong, will go wrong", so it is best to be prepared just in case your trip takes an unexpected turn.
1. Pack lots of snacks. Snacks are essential for any road trip, it will reduce the number of food stops, and keep them occupied. Make sure they are snacks that the little ones can consume safely and easily on their own. Try snacks that are less greasy, and not too sugary, the last thing you want is a little one with an upset tummy in the backseat. Cheerios, or a similar dry cereal are always a good choice. Make sure its something you don't need to refrigerate if you're traveling a couple of hours. 10 Best Travel Snacks for Kids.
2. Don't over do it with liquids. With little ones it's hard to keep them on a bathroom schedule, but it doesn't hurt to try. Be mindful not to give your kids too much to drink while traveling, unless you want to stop for a bathroom run every twenty minutes. I would suggest giving them liquids about 30 mins before you plan on making a bathroom stop.
If you are potty training, traveling can be scary, but take some of the pressure off. Invest in a few pairs of training underpants, so if they do have an accident, its not too epic. Also, if you're like me and are deathly afraid of public restrooms, invest in some disposable seat covers. You can find these in Walmart or Target, for about five bucks. They are especially for toddlers, and come in fun and colorful designs.
3. Be prepared to entertain. If you have a DVD player in your car, make sure its ready to go, and you have their favorite movies on deck. Tablets, smart phones, e-readers, etc. should be fully charged and ready for battle the night before. Story books and coloring books also make for an easy activity on the road. Singing songs is another good way to keep the kids entertained while also feeding their urge to scream and shout; at least its channeled into a somewhat cohesive tune, instead of random yelling, and screaming. Old fashioned road games still work too, such as i-spy, and spot the car. 10 Best Car Games for Kids.
4. Make a checklist. A checklist will help alleviate some of the last minute second guessing as to whether you packed everything. These are a few staple items that should be on every parent's checklist when traveling with kids.
- Extra clothes-bring twice as many change of clothes as you think you'll need
- Batteries- something you need electronic is bound to die on your trip...be prepared
- Chargers- again, something you need electronic is bound to die, and it doesn't take batteries..be prepared.
- Fully stocked diaper bag- if you still have little wee ones, having a fully stocked diaper bag that is at arms reach in the car will be helpful.
- Pillows and blankets- if your child has a favorite pillow or blanket, make sure it makes the packing list, or you will be hearing about it throughout your entire trip.
- Toys, story books, and coloring books- you don't want to over clutter your car when traveling, but smaller toys and books that can be put in a baggy or small book bag will definitely come in handy.
- Snacks- don't forget the snacks!
5. Make a detour if you have time. If you're not pushed for time and you're making a trip that requires a couple hours of riding time, stop somewhere scenic or fun and let the kids stretch their legs. On our last trip the rest stop had a good deal of space for the kids to runaround, so we took about 30-45 mins to let them runaround. The visitors center also had some interesting maps that my older two enjoyed investigating. Remember that kids can hardly stay put at the kitchen table, and to have them strapped in for hours can be a bit much for them.
6. Accept that things will stray from the plan. When traveling with kids, nothing is predictable. On our last trip, our son got sick and started throwing up in the back seat. He did this on and off the greater part of our seven hour drive, it was horrible. We stopped twice as many times, and he went through most of his change of clothes during the car ride. Doing laundry was not in our plans since we were only staying two days, so needless to say we hadn't packed any laundry detergent. His car seat, blankets, and pillow all had to be washed when we reached the hotel. What I'm trying to say here is that things just don't go as planned, so make extra time, and allot extra funds for things that might go astray.
Try to stay calm, and patient if things go a little left (look, I said try, I know this is easier said than done).
Have safe and happy travels with the kids this holiday season, and if it all seems too overwhelming just tell the family dinner is at your house this year!