It took us 6 hours flat to get from our house to Albuquerque, New Mexico. We only stopped once, a quick bathroom break alongside the road. Everyone was happy the entire time. In fact, it was the easiest road trip we've ever taken.
Here are 4 things that kept us smiling on the way...
1. Drive at night. Friends have told us this "trick" before, but I've always been hesitant to try it. I wondered if my girls (ages 1 and 3) would actually fall asleep or if they would cry in the dark. Well, I'm happy to report that it worked like a charm. We left at 5:30 and arrived at our destination at 11:30pm. For the first few hours, the girls played. Then, they both eventually nodded off, without any whimpers or complaints. They slept. We drove and talked. It was a beautiful thing.
2. Bring food. We snacked on dried mangos, a fruit & nut mix, and peanut-butter pretzels. On the return trip, we had to stop for dinner and our options were severely limited (Subway, McDonalds, etc...yuck). Next time, we will pack a cooler with sandwiches, fresh fruit, and special treats. It will be healthier, more convenient, and way more delicious.
3. Make your own bathroom. We always keep our Boon Potty Bench in the trunk of our car. It's useful for errands around town, but it's even more handy for road trips. We can stop anywhere, anytime and have a sanitary bathroom spot for our 3-year-old. So much better than trying to locate a public bathroom and then holding your small child over the toilet in the icky stalls, while saying, "Don't touch ANYTHING!"
4. Be organized. More specifically, use packing cubes. They are BRILLIANT. If you like, you can even buy one color for every member of the family. After you are done packing them, place all of the cubes in your suitcase...and everything will be easy-to-find and in-order when you arrive. A sanity saver, for sure...and well worth the cost, in my humble opinion.
How often do you go on road trips? What tips would you add? What snacks/activities do you bring along with you?
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Love the tips! We went on a 2000 mile road trip of Europe this summer and it was amazing. If you only have one baby I would highly recommend keeping the back seat free of clutter so that one parent can sit back there entertaining the baby while the other does the driving. I had to brush up on a lot of nursery rhymes before the trip!
OMG... you are brilliant! I never thought about taking my Boon potty seat with me! With our truck, it's the perfect potty for Dave's baseball games! WOOT!!
I love your ideas!
I've never thought of a potty - good idea, although I guess since I have a boy that's why I've never thought about it - he easily goes anywhere =)
Headed for an unexpected road trip- just me & the girlies and will use those tips!
Traveling and eating healthy can be difficult! To make it fun, you could try looking for local blogs about healthy restaurants in the cities you will be passing through. Though, you are right...packing food is the best way to go!
I agree with your car trip tips - especially the driving at night and the snacks. Those two things really saved us when we drove to KC two weekends ago.
I always bring my own food or sometimes we stop at a grocery store en route. Fast food places rarely have anything I can actually eat - I read online once that I could order a burger at McDonald's if I asked them to hold the bun. Just the patty looked so pathetic and miniscule. I've never been to McDonald's since!
What a great post, Stephanie. That potty bench is such a great idea. I can't tell you how many potty stops I've made for the kids in my life, especially when they were potty training. My daugther used to want to try out every bathroom we passed...lol!
Hugs to you!
As a child, my family took several yearly 8+ hour car trips. Snacks were a huge must as well as drinks. My mother also kept small "buckets" usually empty butter tubs in her van. These "buckets" were used to corral small toys in our laps as well as easy and convenient upset tummy catchers. Wiggle breaks for our legs were combined with potty breaks every few hours and everyone had to "try" to use the bathroom because guaranteed the one that didn't need to go would about 30 minutes down the road. Wet wipes for cleaning messy hands and faces and a small pillow to cushion napping heads. As we got older, we always loved keeping track of the different state license plates we saw.
I'm another one with road trip anxiety. I need a potty for me!
Yes -- we always try to drive most of the trip at night. It is SO much easier.
Great tips! We had success last year leaving at night time, even though, like you, I worried that it wouldn't work out.
I also keep some crayons and paper in the car for long trips, but that's a pretty obvious tip. And baby wipes!
wow, thanks for sharing these tips!
Awesome suggestions. Now we just need somewhere to go! ;)
We recently learned about the driving at night tip! Works great!
Glad I'm not the only one who says "Don't touch anything!" at public bathrooms. I think I said it about 3 times on Saturday night when my 3 1/2 year old had to take a potty break while we were grocery shopping.
I love those night trips. My husband and I love road trips. We have a cooler with fresh snacks, fresh fruits, drinks and ice. My daughter is about 13months but we've had more than 15 travels in her lifetime of about 8+ hrs average, especially when I school 6hrs away and I have to drive back every weekend, sometimes, I just take her with me to school. She loves to sleep so, she is game all the time.
Im glad your girls had fun and slept halfway.
Love the driving at night tip!
We hardly ever take road trips, but you have seriously tempted me to try this out soon with the family.
The longest car trip we've done so far has been just over three hours, and my son was 13 months at that time. We planned to be on the road for nap time. I had a bag packed full of small toys and books (most of which I had packed away a month or so before our trip, so they were like new again when we were on the road). I made sure we had plenty of snacks & drinks -- not just for my son, but also for my husband & I.
We're planning the same trip again this summer, and my son will be 2 1/2 this year. I love the idea of packing a small potty chair in the car, and the one you linked to looks just about perfect! We'll attempt it again for nap time, but I'll be sure to have plenty of books/toys/snacks ready. I'll be making sure to refer back to this post again, because your tips and those shared by everyone commenting will hopefully help us have a relatively smooth trip!
We take a road trip about quarterly down to Oregon. Unfortunately if our son goes to sleep for the night in his car seat he will wake up about 11:30 completely inconsolable. For that reason we almost always try to stop and stay with friends halfway. (lucky we have them!) This has happened enough times that we don't think it's a fluke so driving during the day works better for us. But our little guy loves having mom and dad captive to talk to so he's usually completely fine to just be in his car seat for hours. :) We shall see how it goes with the new one!
Can I say road trips give me anxiety? They are hard for me!!
I always try to drive during sleep time also... usually naptime rather than at night, but same concept.
We bring lots of books and I try to stash some "forgotten toys" (the ones from the bottom of the toy bin, that have been forgotten about) in the passenger seat in case of a toy emergency.
My two have also gotten to the point where I can encourage them to play together - I'll ask my 3yo to play "peek-a-boo" with her younger bro, or to make faces at him, which can keep them happy and giggling for a long time!
When we travel (usually 7-8 hour trips) we try to go to bed early, then get up at 3am or so and leave by 3:30. That way we have some sleep in and the sun will be coming up soon to wake us up. We find that if we try to drive too late then we are too sleepy. We are not night owls like your family. Then, when we arrive at our destination we can visit with family right away instead of going straight to bed.
Question about the potty -- where do you use it? Sit it on the ground outside? Is this in the middle of nowhere? Or at a gas station? I am thinking about ordering one for my kiddos, but what to picture how I would use it first.
And we also have Boon Potty Bench. It is awesome - noone ever guessed that it is a potty. It has such a sleek design. And the compartments on the sides are great - girls love hiding their books there.
I love your idea of packing cubes, need to try it out!
I've taken a couple of long car trips with Levi in tow. I have to say it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. He was still nursing full time the first time, so we made A LOT of stops. The second time a ton of snacks were involved, but so were a ton of stops. He still wanted to nurse a lot and get out of the car and wander around. I say, give yourself plenty of extra time. Don't be in a hurry.
We, too, take looooooong car trips (CA to North Dakota) so there is serious military operation-style planning involved. For food, some of the healthiest/easiest travel foods for kids/adults that I've found are: Frozen pancakes (make extra next time you make them and bring them frozen the car- eat when they thaw) PB&J (bringing all the supplies for this is so easy) Healthy noodle cups from Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. Packs of single serve oatmeal (the low sugar/healthy variety at WF or TJ) you can go into a gas station and get a cup w/ hot water to pour over your oatmeal, grab a spoon and your meal is healthy, hot, ready and easy!
Good tip on starting your drive at night though - we may have to think about that for the next one!
Because our road trips are seldom less than 9+ hours, (sometimes up to 18+) we follow many of your tips, including the PB Pretzels, trail mix, and night travel, but have also included the DVD! On our 9+ hour trips, we watch two movies of about 1 1/2 hrs. a piece, so we aren't just staring at the screen the entire time. They do come in handy when counting the cacti, playing I Spy, talking about our dreams for the future (or even just the fun we'll have when we arrive), playing with the various travel toys reserved for ONLY traveling in an attempt to make the appeal last for a while (hand held Simon Says and the Hooked on Phonics Smart Sticks), or napping gets old!