While now is not really the time to take a recreational road trip with or without children, we can dream, plan, and scheme, right? If you will be traveling with children sometime in the future, today’s guest post from Cristin Howard of the Smart Parent Advice website will help you decide what items to pack to keep the little ones happy on the road. When the kids are happy, the parents are happy, and this blog post will help keep the entire family feeling good.
Planning a family road trip can be intimidating. As you prepare for your trip, your head will be swirling with packing suitcases and wondering how to keep your kids happy and comfortable for hours upon hours.
Let us help you get organized by assisting with your packing lists! Here are ten items to include in your arsenal to help make your road trip a pleasant experience for the whole family.
One of the most essential road trip items for our family are window shades. Nothing makes children more upset than having the sun shining directly into their faces. Putting a shade on their window helps to dim the harsh rays of the sun while still allowing the sunlight to brighten up the car.
Rest Stop Entertainment
Pack a drawstring bag with simple outdoor items, such as frisbees, bubbles, and a soccer ball. Any time you need to pull over to use the bathroom, encourage the kids to run around in the grass for ten minutes. This will allow them to use up some of their pent up energy.
The day before you leave on your trip, pre-portion the snacks you want your kids to eat during the ride. This will save you from having to dig around in bags and pour and potentially spill goldfish all over your van floor.
You can use plastic food storage containers for easily smashed snacks such as crackers or soft cookies. Plastic bags are a great choice for pretzels, veggies cut in thin strips, or their favorite dry cereal to munch on.
Make sure each child has a sippy cup within reach and that you encourage your child to drink regularly. You may be risking more bathroom breaks, but there is nothing worse than starting a family vacation with a constipated toddler. Staying hydrated will help their bodies to stay working efficiently despite the long hours of sitting.
I highly recommend having your child’s favorite stuffed animal and blanket handy so that when they start to whine and become uncomfortable, you can hand them their comfort items and offer to sing to them. Let them know that it’s okay to miss their beds and you’ll be there to keep them safe.
While your little one isn’t likely to know how to read much yet, books can still offer hours of entertainment while they’re sitting in a car seat. In a sturdy tote bag, pack picture books for your child to look through as well as activity books.
Some examples of activity books geared for young toddlers are: lift the flap books or any book with buttons to press (as long as they aren’t exceptionally loud for the driver). For kids preschool or kindergarten age, some great choices would be “spot the difference” or “look and find” books.
Having a large bag full of entertaining toys is a must when traveling with a crew of little ones. I have found great success with letting my young kids offer ideas of what to pack so they can start to gain excitement for their road trip activities!
Here are a few ideas of what to include in your travel toy bag: magna doodles, puzzles, reusable sticker books, magnetic playsets, interactive steering wheels, or a variety of their favorite cars and realistic plastic animals so they can engage their imaginations.
Gallon-Sized Zip-top Bags
You may be wondering why gallon-sized zip-top bags are a necessity on road trips. Many kids end up feeling car sick during their travels. When you suspect they are starting to feel unwell, assist them in holding an open zip-top bag and let them use it to throw up into. You can then toss the bag away at the next gas station.
If your vehicle has a built-in DVD player, you are set up for success. Kids love to watch their favorite shows, and it will make the time pass quickly for them.
If your car does not have a DVD player, you don’t need to worry. Grab some CDs full of well-known kids’ songs, and your family can sing your hearts out as the miles pass by.
Podcasts are another great option for your kids. Sesame Street, Paw Patrol, and Story Time are entertaining, age-appropriate podcasts for your kids to listen to.
Even though you will have bags full of car entertainment for the kids, it will make your life easier if each child also has their own toddler-sized backpack within reach.
In the front compartment have tissues and napkins so they can help clean up their messes as they snack in the car.
In the large back section, have them choose a favorite book, a special toy, and their most loved stuffed animal. Having these items close by will allow them to have some independence during the road trip.
Don’t Stress The Little Things
Your family has been looking forward to this well-needed vacation. Don’t let the stress of having children in the car keep you from enjoying the road trip. Keep them fed, entertained, and above all, love on them as best as you can in those cramped quarters.
Cristin Howard runs Smart Parent Advice, a site that provides parenting advice for moms and dads. Cristin writes about all of the different ups and downs of parenting, provides solutions to common challenges, and reviews products that parents need to purchase for babies and toddlers.