Hello! My name is Cassie and I have two very spunky, very cute 2-year old twins, Albie and Faye. I’m a freelance producer and my family has recently relocated to Southern Illinois, or back home as we call it!
|This is our last picture in KC before we packed up and drove/moved back to Illinois.|
Traveling with kids can be a pretty daunting task. Including a child, or in this case children, and their needs into your travel plans takes a lot more work than just putting a nursery rhymes CD on and throwing a pouch of applesauce their way. It involves a lot more planning. When we were about to embark on our first road trip with the kids, I was a mess trying to figure out what to pack, what we needed, what we didn’t need, how they would do in the car, etc. I’m a planner by nature, but I felt like I couldn’t grasp how to wrangle something like this. And it’s tricky b/c we’re not just talking about the car, we’re also talking about having enough stuff with you for however long your stay is at the destination you’re traveling. And times two? Woof. That’s a lot of stuff. So I wanted to share the tips and tricks I’ve used over the past (almost) 2 years of traveling with my kids. We’ve done the long road trips, we’ve done the short ones. We’ve flew and then drove 3 hours, and even been through a move. I’m not saying we’ve done it all, but we’ve done a lot of it, and here’s what I’ve learned:
- Make a list.
- First and foremost no matter what age your children are, I always felt like making lists were super helpful. It kept my mind at ease that I wouldn’t forget something and helped me inventory all of the crap stuff that we would be bringing. I did a list for the car/diaper bag and a list for their other stuff. Then I could cross it off as I packed it. I should also note that listing everything out and then packing it, would help me realize that in some instances I was bringing way too much stuff and then I could go back and cut out the excess.
- Leave that massive box of diapers at home.
- On the first few trips, I might as well have put the house on wheels b/c we were bringing so much stuff! What I learned over time was that it was easier for us to pack only the things we absolutely needed and then when we arrived to our destination, hit up a store to buy the rest. We did a few trips lugging a box of diapers back and forth and cramming them in the car and then I saw that one of my lovely sisters (who travels a lot with her 2 girls) buys that stuff when she gets to where she’s going. Or in some cases, ships it there from Amazon/Target. Genius. So instead of having to look after a massive box of diapers (which is usually way more than we need on a trip anyway), I just go get enough to get us through our stay and then either use the leftovers for the diaper bag on the way home, or try and pack the rest. Or, if you’re fortunate enough like I am sometimes, your mom/mother-in-law buys them for you and they’re already at her house so you don’t have to do it at all!
- Find your ideal drive time.
- Work with your children’s schedule and figure out what rhythm works best for your family. Whether we were in the car when Albie & Faye were babies, or even now as toddlers, we always work with their schedule, not against it. Driving during sleep times helped us get the most out of our trips. For us, putting them in jammies and putting them in the car a little before bedtime helped us avoid cranky car-babies. For others, it might be that traveling really early in the morning works better. Whatever time of day it is, find out what works best for you, and that will help maximize your trip.
This is our first trip back to IL. The kids were almost 12 weeks old and we went back for Easter.
- Dress kids for comfort.
- Any time we stick the kids in the car for long travel, they’re either in comfy lounge clothes or jammies. Being the car for long periods of time isn’t fun for anyone, so making sure they’re in easy, comfy clothing makes that time in the car a littler better. And for the love of all things holy, always, always pack a change of clothes. If you don’t, you might find yourself in the midst of a blowout mishap without a change of pants and one of your kids has to ride in the car seat without pants for 2 hours. Hypothetical situation, obvs. That never happened to me or anything…
This is our first trip to the Lake of the Ozarks. My family goes there every summer so we packed up and continued the tradition with our kids.
- Eating on the road.
- Eating on the road with kids can be tricky. It’s not as easy as pulling through a drive-thru and tossing them a McChicken to eat in the backseat. When Albie and Faye were babies, they were on formula. Depending on how far/long we were in the car depended on how many bottles I would have to prep and bring in the diaper bag but I always portioned out the formula ahead of time. Then I could just pour the water into the bottle, shake and be done. When my kids were a little older and on purees, we took advantage of the pouches. They were easy to pack, still good to eat and easy to feed them on the go. For shorter trips, we would pack a cooler and then I could put the homemade food I’d made in there. I portioned them out into individual zip loc bags, labeled what meal/day they were for and packed them in a small cooler with ice packs. Now that I have toddlers, I find it a little easier to feed them. We pack lots of snacks. Some of our favorites are goldfish, raisins, fruit snacks (yes, I give my kids fruit snacks), mini vanilla wafers, cheerios, etc. And when in doubt, I find a grocery store and buy an Un-Crustable and a bag of Sun Chips. Ta-da!
- In-flight entertainment.
- Or in this case, in-car entertainment. This wasn’t a huge issue when the kids were babies, because they mostly slept on our road trips, but as they get older, we’re constantly trying to find new ways to entertain them while on the road. Sometimes our end destination is not a place that has kid toys, thus, we pack toys with us. It’s easy to go overboard with this. Over time I found that just because I would pack more toys, didn’t mean that they would get played with. More often than not, we’re busy doing other things and those toys are merely used for in the car. So we keep it small; blocks, plastic animals, lots of books and of course, the iPad. No road trip is complete without the iPad. We have multiple episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on there and when we’re feeling desperate for relief from cranky kids, we prop it up on the arm rest between our seats and drive to the soothing sound of the Hot Dog song.
- I like to put my kids in overnight diapers for long car trips. Since we mostly travel during their night time sleep, I feel better about having them in an overnight while they’re in the car seat. It might not actually do anything different, but it makes me feel better. ☺
- I always pack their water cups, but depending on what kind of trip you’re taking, it’s not always easy to wash them out as frequent as necessary. That’s when I turn to the Take n Toss cups, like these http://www.target.com/p/the-first-years-take-and-toss-feeding-variety-pack-28-pc/-/A-10752889
I throw a few of those in the diaper bag and then I have back up cups when I need them. They’re durable enough for multiple use but still cheap enough where I can throw them away and not feel too guilty about it. They’re spill proof and perfect for travel!
- I always throw a few plastic bags in the car just to have them handy. They’re great for trash or for clothes your kid throws up on that you need to quarantine from the rest of the car. Seal that sucker up tight.
These are just some tips that I’ve used over the past 2 years! I hope that you find some of it useful for any future road trips with your kids!