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Challenge: Traveling with Kids

10 Things Every New Parent Needs for Road Trips.

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Do you find yourself needing to visit family or college friends for a day trip? Us, too. We live about 3.5 hours from our family and usually make day trips for birthday parties and other events. 3.5 hours each way, in one day?!

At first we were always asked "Why wouldn’t you spend the night?!" For us it makes sense. And here is why:

You are going to need to drive 7 hours regardless of the time frame.

To avoid feeling like the trip is overpowering our entire weekend, we make a decision to let it impact a single day. Same driving, less time “on the road.”

Is it exhausting to drive so far with young infants and toddlers? Absolutely. But, it is so worth it in terms of preparation and weekend productivity. After all, our list of things to do isn’t going to be accomplished by leaving someone’s house at 10 am the next morning.

Life is always better at Grandma & Grandpa's!

Life is always better at Grandma & Grandpa's!

Since we started these day long road trips, we've learned a few tips to pass along to other new parents. Here are my favorites---

10 Things Every New Parent Needs for Road Trips:

A Fully Stocked Diaper Bag: If you don’t have little ones, I envy you and your ability to leave the house sans diaper bag. but until we get there, we have a fully stocked diaper bag. The night or two prior to our trip, my husband likes to unpack the diaper bag, make sure the correct size of diapers/clothing/undies are packed. This is our cycle of organizing… wait until we need it! Next we stock up with the diaper bag essentials, making sure thee right combination of snacks are included. Now we have a diaper bag that someone has taken a look at and feel comfortable with being stocked.

An Extra Tote Bag: This bag is one of those reusable totes that people carry their groceries in at the supermarket. It's great because if one of your kids has an accident, you won’t mind throwing a dirty plastic bag in it!

What is in the reusable tote bag?

Additional Food: This is for the actual day of the trip.Load up with lunch and dinner foods for the baby. Include extra or more substantial snacks for your toddler.

Your goal isn’t to rely on the diaper bag unless you are physically out at a restaurant or somewhere where you’d use the diaper bag anyways.

Bottles: There are at least a 3 bottles prefilled with water. Could you wash the ones you use throughout the day? Absolutely. Is it always convenient? Not entirely depending on the day’s activities.

Formula: See above note on bottles. I recommend taking a small container of formula with you. It doesn’t matter if it’s partly opened, but you want to make sure you have enough on-hand to fill the bottles AND extra to cover if you unexpectedly decide to spend the night. (Midwestern weather can throw a wrench in the best laid plans)

The best kind of car rides!The best kind of car rides!

Spare set of clothes: Sometimes you want the kids to wear cuter than your everyday play clothes to parties. Pack them in the tote bag and you can find them quickly when you arrive and the kids don’t look like they just spent 3 hours snacking.

Pajamas: You might look silly loading our kids up in their PJs at 6pm, but if they are sleeping when you arrive home, you will love the ability to move them from the car to their beds. Sure, they stir, but they aren’t jostled awake and need convincing to go back to sleep.

Extra Wipes: These are easily disposable and can be used to clean little faces to blowouts. I feel confident that we will have wipes within an arm’s reach until the kids are 12 years old.

Along with the tote bag, we always have these on hand...

Entertainment: Stick with 'oldies but goodies' that you know your kids will enjoy. Occasionally add a new DVD to mix.

This Mama loves magazines, our toddler occasionally finds a TV show interesting, and our little guy doesn’t know that he can be entertained by electronics, yet. Our little girl has a portable DVD player installed on the headrest in front of her. Does she watch it? Not always, but it’s there in case she suddenly becomes interested. She hasn’t learned to ask for movies, most TV shows, or the iPad yet. So we can’t use these yet!

Mamas & Papas Seat : This seat is perfect to substitute as a high chair for baby during meal times and booster seat for any self supporting infant and toddler. Most places you visit won’t have an extra high chair or TWO sitting around. You'll like the portability and convenience that the Sung seat affords you.

and lastly.....

Snacks for Mom & Dad: Don’t forget about yourself. You don’t want a handful of your kid’s goldfish. Trust me.

Day trips to see Grandma & Grandpa are important-- but you don't need to lose your sanity. With a little planning, you can be confident that you have everything you & baby need and enjoy the ride back home a little more.

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