My family recently returned from a wonderful weekend getaway to Cincinnati, and on the way home I couldn’t help but feel like now was the right time to write a post about road trips with kids. I wrote this one back in 2014 and it’s beyond time for an update with some specifics on staying organized, especially since Zoey is older now. If you’re looking for tips with toddlers, that’s a great short post so start there, then come back here and join me for the improved list of travel tips and must-haves for road trips with kids! You’ll find a couple of things that are similar, yet updated here, and some new ideas we’ve picked up along the way. I will say that we rarely (or never) hear the dreaded “are we there yet?” question from Zoey, so clearly these are working!
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1.) Invest in a travel present: I still stand by this… yes, it sounds materialistic, but kids love something “new” and when you have a long road trip ahead, it’s a good idea to invest in something fresh for that trip to keep them entertained for the long haul. We like to do a new movie, special treats, a travel-friendly toy, new coloring book, etc. You can do themed presents (Lego or Disney, for example), or something generic, but it’s a lot of fun for the road. Dollar Tree even has some fun little trinkets you can buy. In the past we’ve also purchased a new game for Zoey’s LeapPad (Amazon often sells $20 digital gift cards for $14.99! Plus, you can get games on sale through the Leapfrog app store). It’s fun to tell her “turn on your LeapPad, you have something new on there!” She’s 7 and still loves her LeapPad as much as she did when she was 4. We have the LP Ultra XDI, in case you’re wondering.
2.) Prepare for mess: Pack a cheap towel for the backseat. We figured this one out after making the mistake of allowing Zoey to get a Blizzard from Dairy Queen on the drive home. We were on a mission to make it to a specific location by a specific time, otherwise we would have just had her eat it before driving again. Alas, we did not do that and I’ve since learned (I’ll get back to this later in the post). The ice cream was overflowing because it was melting entirely too fast, so before we could get moving, we had to take a few minutes to let her drink down all of the melted ice cream, and to clean up the cup it came in. That is when it dawned on me that we should keep a cheap towel in the car for moments like that. Something small enough to drape across her lap without taking up much space, but to catch messes. Whether it’s sauce for chicken nuggets, ice cream, or yogurt, no one wants that all over the car or their kid while on the road. And let’s be real, a “no food in the car” rule isn’t practical for a road trip. Don’t even play.
- Bonus Tip: Walmart sells hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, alcohol-free baby wipes for $0.88 (80 ct – look for the white package) and these are GREAT to keep in the glove box in case of messy hands. Even though Zoey is way past the days of needing baby wipes for the bathroom, we always keep these in the car for emergency messes. They are safe for the face and great when you need to refresh yourself in the car.
3.) Prepare for medical treatment: Pack emergency items into the glove box, such as napkins, tissue, and even barf bags. You just never know. I’ve also found that it’s a good idea to keep basic medicines in there, such as Dramamine, Ibuprofen, Pepto, and mints. Notice a pattern? No one wants a sour stomach on the road… it’s the worst. Kids already need to stop for the restroom more frequently than adults… adding a sour stomach to the mix or a bad headache is no good. We always keep extra bandaids, hand sanitizer, and eye drops as well. I use my empty Ipsy bags for little care packages to keep everything organized.