We’ve been back from our trip for a little while, but we’re still getting back in the swing of Indiana-life (humidity, bugs, friends!, green growing things, HUMIDITY). As of our Utah trip, we have been on three long road trips in the past five months, so while still not real experts, we know more than we did before. Here are some things we’ve learned about how to road trip with two toddlers.
Bring healthy snacks. At first, I thought road trips were for awesome (read: sugary/junk food-y) treats, right? But 3-5 meals over two days of awesome treats isn’t so awesome. So, instead of sugary snacks, we pack lots of carrots, apples, grapes, cheese, yogurt squeezes (for the kids) and nuts to get us through the day–with the occasional mento or fruit snack thrown in ;) .
Let them run. We plan in one “run-around” break at lunchtime. We stop for 30 minutes to an hour somewhere that at least has some grass and at most has a playground for the kids to get wiggles out before nap time. we pack sandwiches for lunch so we don’t spend our valuable time ordering food.
The fewer toys the better. When I was planning our first road-trip, almost every blog I read or person I talked to said to bring as many toys/new toys as possible. We didn’t have the budget for new toys and we didn’t have much space (in our old car) either. But I’ve realized that my kids spend most of their time in the car looking out the window or chatting with us or sleeping. On our way back from New York, Arthur didn’t want anything to do with any of his toys and he spend the whole time looking out the window. That said, books are always worth it. Whether the kids look at them by themselves, or we read to them, books were great. Also, my general theory on road trips is that part of the experience is looking at the scenery–that goes for kids and adults.
Along those lines, talk to each other. What other time are you stuck together with your favorite people in such a small space? Embrace the car confinement and chat with your kids. This probably sounds like a silly tip, but it was a lesson I had to learn. The car ride isn’t just transportation to be endured, it is an experience; and, it can be a fun one too!
If kids are sleeping, don’t stop. Our most valuable drive time is when kids are sleeping and when the car stops, kids wake up (often). Gas up during potty breaks so that when kids are sleeping you can keep on cruising.
Don’t bug your kids. Don’t assume that they need to be entertained. Toys (and food) are emergency distraction devices, don’t use them unless you have to. Start the trip with no toys and no food and see how long you can go without taking things out. This sets a pattern for your kids that you are not going to spend every minute of the next 12 hours entertaining them.
And another tip that I didn’t think of doing myself until we were almost home: pack a hotel bag. Each time we stopped at a hotel, we hauled up 4 bags or so. Next time I will pack an overnight bag so that when we roll into a hotel late at night we can grab our stuff quickly and go inside.
In the past few months, I’ve learned that I love road trips! Even with two little ones, road-tripping can be super fun and doable. It just takes a little creativity, a lot of positivity, and some gas in the tank. Happy road-tripping!