Every summer, our family vacations at our lake house in Northern Michigan. It’s our little slice of heaven. The problem? It’s sort of hard to get to. Flights are expensive, and we somehow miss our connection all. the. time. So this year, we drove! My husband was at Lollapalooza, so I was in the car by myself one day, then my parents drove my oldest the second day. It went really smoothly, so I wanted to share… any mamas out there getting ready to hit the road with littles?
1. ORGANIZE. Organize the crap out of your car.
*Structured tote bags (so they don’t flip flop all over the place) of toys for each kiddo in reach of their car seats- more on this later…
*Blankets for nap time
*Hats and sunglasses (and lather your kids with sunscreen before you start- learn from my mistakes)
*These window shades- they just adhere to the window! No sticky residue, no suction cups. Love.
*Cooler and snack bag
*Large box of baby wipes
*Diapers and changing pad
*used plastic bags to be used as trash bags or wet/dirty clothes
*CD’s (Harry Potter audio books obvs)
*Secret grownup snacks
If you’re spending the night half way like we did, pack the stuff you’ll need at the hotel last for easy access. I packed each of our jammies, toiletries, and clothes for the next day all in one bag, so I wouldn’t have to search through each suitcase in the hotel.
2. KEEP ‘EM BUSY
First thing to note… I don’t have a DVD player in my car. Soooooo if you do, you’re probably all set. But if you don’t, read on. In each kid’s tote bags, I brought age appropriate toys for each. Max is 9 months, so he gets bored easily with toys. I just packed a ton of little things I could hand him as he tossed them out of his seat when he was done. Ha! Ari is 3 1/2 and is able to really concentrate for a while. I had him go through all of his activities before playing with the iPad.
We also played a lot of games like I spy, car bingo, cloud shape-spotting, etc.
Here are Ari’s picks for iPad apps. I’d love to know yours!
Comment below if I’m missing some of your favs.
Nighty Night! / My Vehicle Universe / Wild Kratts World Adventure / Sago Mini Sound Box / Sago Mini Forest Flyer
3. SNACKS. So many snacks.
I’d love to say I packed little ziplocks of fresh fruit and veggies for my kids… but at least I thought about it! Since Max is still too little for most snacks, I love to give him Mum-Mums– I can just hand him one from the front seat, and he can eat it all by himself. Ari is a snack monster and very food motivated, so I have healthy snacks but also “special treats” for milestones in the trip. In the front seat were secret grownup snacks as MY special treats. Anything crunchy and constant is a good way to keep busy (and stay awake). Oh and caffeine. Duh.
4. SCHEDULE + PIT STOPS
If you’re able to, schedule your drive around your kids’ nap times. Start an hour or two before nap time so the nap essentially breaks up the trip. I love to drive in the evening, so we can get some driving done when the kids are sleeping.
Think about when your kids eat meals. Eating in the car takes up a good chunk of time for activities on the drive. Stopping to grab food for the car is a great time for potty breaks! Ugh. My first road trip with a non-diapered kid! We practiced a couple weeks before “holding it in” and it went pretty smoothly. I planned on stopping every few hours to pee, stretch, etc.
On that note… when you stop, make sure to get your kids’ wiggles out! I make up a game with Ari which essentially has him running sprints and doing jumping jacks! I’m that mom in the back of Burger King. You gotta do what you gotta do.
Since we were driving in Northern Michigan, we were lucky enough to stop in some cute little towns on the bay. The perfect time to Yelp some restuarants. Found this little gem in South Haven. You know I loooove donuts! Excellent coffee at Julia’s too.
I hope your trip goes smoothly- as smoothly as it can be of course.
And the most important things to take away from this are:
1. wear stretchy pants
2. cut yourself and your kids some slack
3. try to make it fun!
What are your tricks of the trade for travel?