Sunday, November 29, 2015

Traveling With Kids

Every year for Thanksgiving, we load up the car and head to my sister's house in Virginia to spend time with my family.  Traveling with toddlers/preschoolers can be absolutely exhausting!  Redmond has always been a great traveler (well, except for the occasional car sickness....) - from the time he was 6 months until he was about 21 months, we lived part time in Maryland and part time in Michigan.  We traveled back and forth every 4-6 weeks, so he became accustomed to traveling via car very quickly.

Ashlyn, on the other hand, not so easy.  That girl hated the car from the get-go.  She would scream no matter how far we had to travel.  Even a five minute drive to my in-laws.

Thankfully, she is much easier now and can be - and keep herself - entertained.  I was well prepared for this road trip though.  And, I thought I'd share some of our must haves when traveling with our little ones.

Food.  Snacks.  Lots and lots of food and snacks. 
Lots of variety too.  I decided to do something different this trip.  Normally, I just pack a bag full of different snacks and whenever I hear "I'm hungrrrrryyyyy!" I list off everything that I have until they hear something they want.  This time I decided to give them each their own snack bag. 

Inside was a variety of snacks.  Most were special treats, but I threw a few staples (Clif Bars and fruit) in there as well.
And, I always pack two water bottles per child.  I learned the hard way that if you only have one...and they drop it...and you can't reach doesn't end well.  So, I always have two ready to go!
This can be anything.  Well, anything that can be done in a moving vehicle while strapped into a car seat.  This time I packed a bag full of all kinds of different things for the kids.  I found a lot of stuff at the Dollar Tree.
For Redmond I picked up a couple of workbooks to practice writing his letters and numbers, a dry erase board, new (washable!) crayons, pad of plain white paper, TMNT stickers, Melissa and Doug color pad, new sunglasses and a couple small toys.
Ashlyn also got a dry erase board, an M&D book, crayons and a pad of paper.  She got Frozen stickers, a new coloring book, new baby bottles for her baby doll and a little Olaf figurine.
I packed them each a bag and kept it up front with me.  They had no idea that I even had these bags of goodies - I'll call it my secret arsenal. 
When they started getting restless or bored, I would pull something out of my secret stash to make them happy and keep them busy.  Even if it was only for 5 minutes ;)
Thankfully, I didn't have to use too many items from my stash.  Stocking stuffers!!!
(P.S. The built-in cup holders in their car seats were perfect crayon holders!)
Have them pack their own bag of travel goodies.
I had both Redmond and Ashlyn pack a backpack with activities/toys for the car.  They didn't pack much - a couple small toys, a couple books and they each took two stuffed animals.  I would have encouraged more (like coloring books and crayons), but I knew that I had my secret arsenal stashed up front with me, so I didn't.
  Because we travel at least once per year (but usually more), we have purchased a portable DVD player for both kids.  I know a lot of cars come with entertainment packages, but we prefer them to each have their own.  That way they can watch whatever their little heart desires.  These can usually buy us at least 30 minutes of quiet.  Usually.  The kids also have been given little tablets (R has a VTech and A has a LeapPad) for gifts in the past few years.  These are great for the car too.

Hotels with a pool.
If you need to break up your trip by staying overnight in a hotel, get one with a pool!  The kids will have lots of bottled up energy from traveling in the car - a pool is a great place to get all that energy out.  If a pool isn't available, try to find a local park. 

Traveling can be so stressful.  Amiright!?  It's stressful to the little people too.  And, just remember that if you're in the car long enough, they're bound to fall asleep at some point, right?
And, if you're really lucky, they'll nap at the same time.
So, there you go - these are our must-haves when traveling with our kids.  Anything I missed? 
Happy Travels!
~Sara :)

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