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I remember when road trips were so fun. When my husband and I were newly married we loved nothing more than to go for a drive, exploring new places together. We could pack up and at a moments notice with just a bag of clothes and a few snacks.
Then came the kids. I still want to like road trips, I really do, but man can they be stressful! “I need a snack!”, “Are we there yet?”, “The sun is in my eyes!”, “It’s too cold!”, “It’s too hot!”, “I’m hungry!”, “He’s touching me!”, “Are we there yet?”
As a mom there is a lot more planning that goes into road trips now. I’ve traveled a lot with babies and toddler and I want to share some tips that can help you survive and even enjoy your family road trip! Seriously, there are still are fun parts in-between the fussy parts.
1. Be choosy about your use of technology. I know that watching The Wiggles on repeat may keep your two year old happy, but will it drive you and your husband insane? We are really picky about the music and screen time we allow in the car. Road trips can be a great chance to look out the window, see new places, and make memories as a family. You miss a lot of that if you spend the entire trip on a Daniel Tiger marathon. So keep some music or movies on hand for when you really need them, but try not use them as the default. And pick things that the whole family can enjoy. You’d be surprised how much your kids can enjoy your favorite music with you, they really don’t need that kids music station.
2. Make a car trash can. It’s amazing how much trash can pile up when you are on a road trip. Trash everywhere= stressed mom. So make yourself a little trash can. I love this idea of using a plastic cereal canister as your car trash can from Better Homes and Gardens.
3. Go ahead and buy those window shade things! My kids hate when the sun glares in their eyes! You would think it was a laser beam rather than sunshine the way they wine about it. Do yourself a favor and just cover their windows. You can order Car Window Shades on Amazon.
4. Pack snacks! Lots and lots of snacks. I’m serious, if you think you have enough snacks, double that, and you might have enough. You’d be amazed how much your kids can eat in the car. I love the idea of using a tackle box, craft box, or bento box to separate snacks.
As much as I love this snack tray idea, I have to admit my littlest would just dump it out and it would be a mess. If your kids are still really little go with a snack cup like the Munchkin Snack Catcher (it’s not perfectly spill proof, but it does prevent the entire thing from getting dumped out at once). Just refill it with different snacks throughout the trip. And be sure to bring several sippy cups. We love fruit pouches, granola bars, and goldfish on long trips.5. Sing together! Be silly and fun with your kids, this is where the memories are made!
6. Play a road trip game like 20 questions, or I spy.
7. Pack a mini coloring kit. Corey shared these cute coloring kits she made on her blog, Family Fresh Meals. They are made with post it notes and mini first aid kits from the dollar section, so smart!
8. Make a magnetic game to bring. The thing that drives me crazy about kids in the car is how often they drop things! I’d bring them all sorts of toys but they would drop them! Enter magnetic games. Problem solved. Everything sticks together. You can use a tiny Altoids case or a good sized cookie sheet or metal lunch box. Pick an age appropriate game, littles might like letter matching and word building, while older kids would enjoy tic tac toe or tan-grams.
9. Another great activity to bring that stays together well is a felt book. You can make your own or buy one. Sticker books are also great for littles. Older kids would enjoy crosswords, MadLibs, and Sudoku.
10. Finally pack some little gifts to surprise your kids with throughout the trip. You can use these as an incentive for good behavior during a certain leg of the trip or just as a special surprise. Go to the dollar store and pick out several little gifts for each kid and wrap them up. They will be delighted to get presents throughout the trip and it will give them something new to play with.
I hope that gives you some inspiration for your summer road trip! And while we are talking about trips, where are you going this summer? Do you have any other favorite road trip tips to share with other moms? We’d love to hear them in the comments!