I have done the same 1700 mile trip every single year of my entire life. From Minnesota to Idaho.
Back in the 90’s my mom would ratchet strap one of those TV’s with a built in VHS player in it and we would watch movie in our mini van while my mom drove the entire trip. She traveled with 4 kids, by herself all 1700 miles. Does she sound crazy?! (haha)
But now here I am, as a mom, doing the same trip with 2 kids, and husband. The last three years I’ve learned some tricks of my own. This week we plan on doing the trip again, with our one year old and 3 year old so let’s dive in to some tips.
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I know this might sound silly for organization on a road trip means everything to Jeremy and I. You’re already packed into such a tiny space so when there is garbage or other things scattered everywhere it causes a bit of an over stimulations for both of us. So we have learned the last few trips with kids, to bring two storage bins with lids, they are about 8×14.5 and they easily stow away under the seats.
One bin generally has an abundance of snacks that we pull out during snack time. The other bin has toys, sometimes its a new hand held toy (one that doesnt take much room) that is still in the package that they can be excited for, or sometimes mom is sneaky, and hides a favorite toy for a while before the trip so when they see it again it captures their interest for a while.
On road trips, we try to keep movies for after lunch time. The drive is so long for us that we want to make sure the screen actually keeps their attention. So movie time is anytime after lunch. If this was a shorter drive we would try to do at least 2-3 hours right away where there is no screens. This is just how we have done things, Harlen thinks watching a movie in the car is so special so he really looks forward to those move times. I down load straight from amazon on to my kindle and have bought a strap the kindle attaches to the back of a head rest on. You can check that out here! He hasn’t been shown games on the kindle, we really don’t do a lot of hand held screens with him. You can check out the screen holder here.
As I said earlier, toys are usually in a bin but there are at least 3 toys I always involve in a car ride. The first one is a busy pillow, this toy keeps him entertained for a bit as it has buckles, zippers, strings, buttons, all fine motor skilled play. He loves this pillow and it keeps him entertained for a bit.
Harlen is 3 years old so now he’s loving search and find books. So I found one with a eraser washable marker that he can circle when he finds it. We bring quit a few books that we just stuff into the pockets of the seats in front of him.
And of course, hot wheels or little hand held toys. He has a favorite skid loader that we generally bring with as well. As long as they fit into the bins I’m a happy camper.
Some toy ideas here:
search and find
Listen, if there is one thing that is a necessity its snacks. This trip will be squeezable apple sauce, granola bars and fruit snacks.
We also will be bringing a bento box that I generally fill up the night before. With cheese, crackers, and meat, and fruit. Its a great little entertainment box and he gets to decide when he wants his bento box for the ride.
Mom and dad have our own cooler full of snacks and goodies that we tuck behind the seat so that the passenger can reach it. This helps cut down on gas station spending.
When it comes to meals we use to do fast food, but this time, we plan on bringing stuff for sandwiches. We find a park to eat at when we travel with kids so they can get out and run whether that be at a rest stop or an actual play ground.
Clean Car, Happy Mom & Dad
This may not be everyones situation but as I said earlier clean cars on road trips make me much more calm. So we took to buying a small handheld vacuum that fits under the seat and is rechargeable. Kids are messy and its so nice to vacuum those crumbs up quickly while filling gas or before getting back in from lunch. This has been a MASSIVE must for us the last few trips, we keep it in our car all the time and use it often!
When it comes to hotel stops the last thing we ever want to do is reorganize the car the next day. So we pack one hotel bag that has everyones stuff in it so we don’t have to take out 4 bags. This works so well and limits the excess things we need to bring in. The bag includes, all the jammies, toiletries, swim suits, and clothes for the next day. It works so well for us.
Pray before you leave for safety, we never leave town before praying. Its protected us from a lot.
If you’re a passenger and need to rest I recommend loop ear plugs they work like a charm and really are much more comfortable than foam earplugs.
Creating a slight car schedule isn’t a bad idea especially if you’re routine driven at home. We have standard snack times and movie times at home and will changing the schedule slightly on the road but still will implement a loose schedule.
Drive when the kids are sleeping. I know this sucks, but we leave as early as possible (I’m talking 3:00 am) so we can get at least 5 hours of drive time where the kids are sleeping.
Know you’ll get there when you get there. Don’t rush and be safe!