Now that we are almost settled in California I figure it’s as good a time as any to share my newly acquired wisdom on a long road trip with little ones!
Tip number 1: get a minivan.
Only joking, except that we absolutely love ours and it definitely makes road trip driving (and everyday) driving a little easier. The amount of floor space and storage space we had was impressive!
Taking a road trip is definitely easier than flying when babies are involved. But it’s not exactly a walk in the park either. Not having a limit on items and liquids makes life so much better, not to mention you don’t have to have a squirming baby on your lap giving you busted lips and black eyes.
Here’s a list of some of the items that made our 5-day drive go relatively smoothly:
Car Seat Toys
I put two car seat toys on rings for Treat to stare at and occasionally grab. The links
prevented him from accidentally throwing them out of his car seat. Mr. Turtle and Freckles are now well loved car companions. (Those names were given by me during an attempt to cheer him up.)
Firecracker had the classic Sophie the Giraffe teething toy so to prevent any confusion Treat gets a different version. (Granted, Sophie has been lost for almost a year now.)
Now here’s an item you probably didn’t expect to see on this list! Treat is the king of diaper blowouts and I wasn’t about to worry about needing to wash the car seat cover in the middle of nowhere. I simply folded up one of these (cutting one in half to fold would be even better!) under his bum for the trip. Really, I should maintain this practice until he starts solid foods…
Diapers and Wipes
I simply kept a jumbo diaper box and filled it with diapers for each the kids as well as a tub of wipes (with refills) on the floor in the backseat for easy access.
When gas stations and public rest area restrooms are the main stops it’s highly recommended to have an easy way to clean both adult hands and children hands.
If you don’t already use mirrors for the kiddos during day-to-day travel, you’ll definitely want them for a long road trip. It’s always good to know if they’re asleep and/or starting to stir when planning driving breaks.
Unless your vehicle is equipped with rear entertainment, you can easily create your own set up. We got a $5 universal tablet holder and hooked it up to the middle seat headrest. The holder is intended for the back of headrests but as my kids are still rear facing our method worked just fine! We downloaded a season of Wallykazam and turned it on in moments of great need. Surprisingly Firecracker didn’t acknowledge its addition to the backseat for a long time so we didn’t need to use it until halfway through our trip.
For the adults, books on CD to help with the 40-odd hours of driving. My choice: the whole Harry Potter series! We got through all of books 1 and 2 and more than half of book 3! I am now continuing listening to the series to make LA traffic much more bearable.
Box of Books and Toys
I knew we couldn’t let the movers pack up all of the toys so I kept a bin of the absolute favorites for Firecracker to grab and play with as desired. Of course all the trains made the cut as did Scout, phone, and laptop. I kept some books out for hotel nights, too, mostly those that are bedtime appropriate.
A small cooler of food was definitely a blessing on a long trip. I was able to keep cheese and fruit as well as ingredients for countless PB&Js. Snacks for the adults was also necessary for long stretches of driving. And water! Just don’t forget some silverware, baggies, and cups.
Cereal Storage Box
I can’t take credit for this one. I saw this tip on Pinterest many years ago and have kept a bin (and plastic shopping bags) in my car ever since as a vehicular garbage can. It’s great for tissues, food wrappers, and receipts. I suggest keeping soiled diapers in a deodorized bag though if you can’t toss them elsewhere right away. (Yes, we made a highly necessary diaper and outfit change in the middle of nowhere. Only once though!)
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