That being said, we've learned a lot along the way so here is my list of top travel tips when you are accompanied by the little ones.
1. Pack what you can the night before. Even if we can't load it into the car the night before, I like to have everything that we can piled up by the door to the garage before the morning. There's nothing worse than trying to get last minute stuff together AND hauling things to the door AND dealing with kids under your feet who are anxious to leave. We try to do all of the packing and piling the night before our trips, after the kids go to bed.
2. Allow plenty of time to load up the car....as in, much more time than you would think you would need. This was our first year taking the Swagger Wagon to the beach (aka-the minivan...don't be jealous) and we thought it would be a breeze to pack it up for the beach. I mean, the last time we went, we crammed in everything for 4 people into a teeny Nissan Sentra. The van should be easy, right?? Don't get me wrong, we had more than enough room...but trying to figure out the best way to stack everything without it tipping over or shifting during travel was a challenge. Something that we thought would take about 30 minutes to do took over an hour. Here is a selfie of everyone once we were finally in the car....with our looks of awe that we had so much more room to work with this year!
3. SNACKS. Snacks, snacks, and more snacks. I know other moms have rules about no food or drink in the car, but I'd rather vacuum up some crumbs and wipe up a spill than lose my mind on a car trip. I try to pack things that are not too crumby/messy/sticky (baggies of animal crackers, squeezy applesauce, squeezy yogurts, string cheese, fruit, etc) We have a compact soft sided cooler that I toss everything into; they each get their spill-proof thermos cup (you can see Jake's in the pic above) in their cupholder and then we're set.
4. Car entertainment. I am not opposed to taking a "whatever means necessary" approach to keeping my sanity during car trips. If that means that each kid watches a movie then plays with their Leap Pads for a solid hour, so be it. Those two items are definitely the biggest sanity savers to me....they each have their own DVD player and own Leap Pad (and head phones to go with them so that the rest of us don't have to enjoy "The Lego Movie" for the 12th time) If you do want to take along some non-electronic entertainment, my kids love those little play packs you can pick up at the dollar store or dollar bins in Target...they have a small coloring book, a few crayons, and sheets of stickers. But my advice here is to just go with it...put aside any usual rules you have about how many electronics your kids can use and just keep handing them entertainment. And snacks to go along with the movie, obviously. Because they will demand that as well. It's like I'm living in "if you give a mouse a cookie" sometimes.
5. Hope that they sleep. There is nothing that brings me more joy when I'm stuck in the car than looking back and seeing the two little travelers in the back, peacefully snoozing away like little angels. The car ride goes by faster for everyone AND they are well-rested and in better moods when we arrive to our destination after a little nap. And a bonus feature to the kids naps: it gives Brian and I a chance to talk in peace and quiet and enjoy some time together away from the daily grind....even if we are stuck in a car :)
|Feeling like a winner that I looked back to see this!!|
|...and then again on the way home from the beach!|
There you have it my friends, the few ways that I try to keep my sanity in tact while traveling. What are your favorite tips and tricks to travel?