The holiday season is rapidly approaching and for many families that means some form of travel as well. It is a very daunting thing to take on, especially when you have little humans to take along. For us, most travel is done by car, but I feel that my following tips can be applied to almost any kind of travel...
Tip #1: You LITERALLY cannot have enough snacks!
This is a big one. Before we go on a trip I pack every kind of snack we have --- and then double down on it. I have boxes of crackers, pretzels, cereal, fruit snacks, trail mix, squeeze pouches, pb&j, etc. Pack some little snack or sandwich bags so you can ration out the snacks. This also helps so that the snacks you pass out LOOK the same... You do not want to start a backseat riot over the color of snack cup they each get! I keep that snacks in a big, brown handled bag at my feet for easy access.
Tip #2 : Pack a small cooler
Snacks don't end with that paper bag.... no, no, no! Now you have this second option for COLD snacks. Cheese, yogurt, fruits and veggies (but nobody will eat the veggies) and the all important drinks. I usually have water, apple juice and ginger ale (for myself.) This is set right behind the center council in our van. Still in arms reach, but not taking up the last bit of space I need by my feet for, well, my actual feet.
Tip #3 : Gallon sized ziplock bags.
Do yourself and favor and just get a whole box for your car and slide them under the front passenger seat. You will want to have easy access to them. Why? Puke. That's right, puke. After Nathan threw up all over a practically brand new car seat 25 minutes from home on a ridiculously long trip back from Michigan, I really wished I had those bags. We had to throw away the carseat, it was that bad. When you are prepared with a bag you don't have to think, "Oh, sh** ! What do I have for him to throw up in?!" Nope... The second someone says they have a tummy ache you whip out one of those bags and you are ready for it. (I have even gotten him the bag while I was driving alone.) And the clean up is much, much, much easier.
Tip #4: Children's Dramamine
Unfortunately Nathan gets his car sickness from me. At the start of a long trip, we know now to just give him the meds. We also know that he can't handle playing any video game or read in the car(just like me) or it will make his very car sick. So far (and knock on a big flipping piece of wood) since we started the Dramamine on long trips he has not gotten sick. Luke is still to young to take it and doesn't seem to get car sick (again knock on that piece of wood!) *Of course you need to speak to your child's doctor and read the dosage very carefully.
Tip #5 : Toys, books
I keep a soft, medium sized toy bucket in the car (right behind the cooler) and fill it will all kinds of randoms books and toys which I keep in the car. I never know what is going to keep Luke happy on long trips so it has a little bit of everything. Baby toys, cars, little figures, bubble toy (you know the ones you tip like an hour glass?) and lots of books. I cannot even tell you how many we go through in a trip, because you think he will love something and then he instantly tosses it on the floor demanding something else. Yikes! The more variety the better.
Tip #5 : Movies and Shows
We are blessed to have a van with a DVD player. It has been a life saver for sure. Thankfully watching that screen doesn't make Nathan feel car sick. Variety is key here too. Nathan loves the movies and Luke prefers shows. We try to mix them up, but usually we have on whatever is not going to make Luke angry and when Luke is asleep Nathan gets to watch whatever he wants.
Tip #6 : Enlist their help
Nathan knows that a car trip is harder for Luke because he is little and can't understand it like he does, so Nathan is like our little helper. He picks up toys for Luke that he can reach and talks to him, points things out and tries to keep the peace.
Tip #7 : Window clings
This is seriously one of my favorite tips. Go on Amazon and get some cute window clings - you can change them seasonally if you want, haha, but I have had the same jungle ones on there for like 2 years. It is a fantastic distractions especially for babies and younger kids!
Tip #8 : Lower your expectations and add at least 2 hours to your total trip time.
I'm not kidding. Travel with kids takes a long time. It takes a lot of preparation (sometimes it feels like you have to pack your whole house) to travel with children and it also takes a lot of stops. Every time you stop it is a bare minimum 30 minutes by the time everyone has had a chance to use the bathroom and stretch their legs. I am a person that loves/needs to be on time. If we plan on leaving at 5am and we don't get out the door "on time" it stresses me the heck out. Jeremy has really helped me let go of that hard time table when it really does not matter.
Tip #9 : Reward while it is happening
A small sucker, a little thing of smarties (dumped in the plastic bags of course), stickers or a mess-free color wonder pad goes a long way! And I like to dole these out when I can tell the boys are ready to be done or are getting antsy. A positive reward - something that is new or special - helps to get them through the trip.
Tip #10 : If you can sync up nap time
If at all possible try and sync up nap times with drive times. When we go to Michigan we like to leave super early like 4:40 - 5 AM so that the kids might sleep a bit at the beginning and Luke will for sure take his nap during the drive. Leaving a little early also gives you time to play and relax when we get there, not just go right to bed. When the kids finally get out of the car they will be ready to play and get out some energy.
It is long and boring and hard for little kids to be in the car and traveling for that long, we have to do all we can to make it a positive, loving experience so that everyone can actually enjoy the destination once you arrive .