Baby Travel Systems:
Hi again friend! I hope that your summer is going well and that you’re creating lots of great memories with your kids. We just returned from a week in my sleepy hometown in western Nebraska and had a blast! We decided on a road trip to see the sights but getting there meant we had to travel 17 hours each way in a car with our 4 year olds! My husband and I are planners so we came up with some useful ideas to help make our journey a successful and fun adventure. We wanted to share in hopes of helping to make your road trip a positive experience.
Some people might think traveling that far with kids is crazy but we have flown with our kids in the past and swore never to do that again unless absolutely necessary… at least until they are older. Choosing the road gives us the opportunity to be in control of our travel schedule and to load up on the toys and extra items we might need during our stay… without having to pay excess baggage fees!
Because my husband and I like to plan, we always pack a day early just to make sure we didn’t forget something. My husband likes to make a packing list while I just keep track of everything in my head and do a mental checklist. Either method has worked for us so far. It’s just personal preference here. The main idea is just to start a day or more early which will help to alleviate unneeded stress over running out of time to pack and the worry you face over missing items you’ll later need.
Before we leave for a road trip, I really like to make sure the house is clean, especially the bedding. Coming home to a clean house after a long trip seems to lower the stress level a ton. Ever feel like you’re dreading going home because of all the stuff that you’ll need to do once you get there? Well, this will help in that department. It’s just one less thing to have to worry about! For our home, I typically clean the day before we go (after the packing is done). Cleaning after the packing is a great way of double checking to make sure I packed everything. I’m way more likely to spot an item that I might have forgotten about.
Eating on the road is also something very important to consider while prepping for a trip. Fast food is a great choice obviously (quick and easy and back on the road), but it’s not always the answer. Ever feel drained and sleepy after your favorite greasy fast food? It’s not exactly the best feeling when you need to pound out those miles. So, prior to leaving, we make sure to fix some chicken wraps (insert favorite sandwich or easily transported food here) and put them in zip lock bags for easy access on the road. Michael and I also fix baggies filled with various snacks, chips, fruits, and nuts. Snacking helps keep us alert and avoids the weighted down feeling of a big meal (snooze time). While we definitely grab a few chips and not- so- healthy stuff to snack on, we also don’t want pour on the empty calories. Most road trips, you’ll find us stocking up on things like meal replacement bars, baked potato chips, peanuts, cheese sticks or fresh fruit that isn’t messy to eat, like grapes. Another useful tip… we load all of our food in a cooler and that cooler takes a prime seat up front. This makes it much easier to access while on the road. Just a thought here, try to limit the amount of water and other fluids your children consume while on the road… avoids having to stop for the bathroom every few miles and speeds up the trip.
The first day of our 17 hour trip we traveled 15 hours! Just an idea here, but we did that because we really wanted to get to the hotel, shower and get rested, but only have 2 hours the next day. This way, we weren’t exhausted, trying to greet family, and getting acclimated all at the same time. During our road trip, we decided that four hours traveling without a break was about our max (before the twins went native on us that is). Planning where to stop along the way for breaks was easy- we just mapped out four hour distances, looked for towns nearby that we would come to after that time, and looked for specific locations in the town where we could stretch our legs and let the kids play off some energy. We also tried to find towns that had a park if the weather was nice or a play area at a fast food place. Letting our twins burn off excess energy after being cooped up in a car for four hours was pretty crucial to mommy and daddy’s sanity! Like I mentioned earlier, my husband and I are planners. That being said, we also built in some ability to be flexible and stop earlier if needed. If we stopped for a while longer than planned because the kids loved a particular park or playground, that was OK. This is just another reason why we like to drive versus flying with kids, flexibility is a must!
Another useful thought here- potty breaks. Potty breaks are pretty much essential and non-negotiable with kids. If your kids are anything like ours then it seems like they have to go all the time. We take ours to the bathroom every time we stop… even if they say they didn’t have to go, we still took them. I can remember that the one time we didn’t pull them out of the car to use the potty. Sure enough, one twin had to go before we got two miles! This is an especially important thought if they are newly potty trained because all parents want to avoid the dreaded regression that can happen with inconsistency. There were times along our trip that we would go for an hour without seeing a gas station, let alone a town. Because of this we put the girls in pull-ups as a back up just in case they couldn’t hold it until our next stop. There were times that I wished I had a pull-up on!!! Lol JK. Luckily, we only had one instance when one of the twins couldn’t hold it in time.
Another thing we had to think about was cell phone service. Our phone plan allows us to use our cell phones as a hotspot for wifi for a small additional charge. Of course that only works if the area has cell service to begin with. But it’s a pretty handy tool to have, and since most major interstates have cell coverage, you’ll be able to stream all those favorite shows your twins can’t live without. One side note here, our carrier allowed us to add the hotspot feature for the trip, then we were able to get rid of it after the trip was over.
Prior to leaving on our trip, my husband and I also downloaded movies and cartoons on the girls iPads (again, insert your favorite device here) to help keep them occupied on those long stretches. A nice added feature to their iPads are the Bluetooth headphones we talked about in an earlier post. Headphones for them equaled peace and quiet for mommy and daddy!! It also means that what ever one is watching, it doesn’t interfere with the other’s show. Bonus here… no fighting over what to watch. Another side note, we brought extra portable stick chargers in case an iPad or headphone started to get low on batteries. After staying overnight at a hotel on the way back, we woke up realizing their devices (and our phones) hadn’t gone on the charger. This wasn’t a problem with the stick chargers we brought.
And there you have it! Before we knew it, 15 hours traveled and we got to rest up at the hotel! The two hour drive the next day was a cake walk! And more importantly, when excited family members greeted us, we had plenty of energy to be excited with them!
On our return trip home we did nine hours the first day and eight hours the second day… more balanced as it didn’t make a difference this time. And when we returned home, the house was CLEAN! All we had to do was the trip’s laundry.
Feel free to share your travel tips either by a comment below or pm me 😉
Until next time! XO ~Charity
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