A long car ride with young kids is not easy feat! With out two little ones, we have now done a few stints to Tahoe, a long haul to Palm Springs and recently, a jaunt to Yosemite in our Pacifica! Yes, I am a mini-van mom now - and I have no regrets. For all things 'successful road trip' - see our packing musts here!
Pack Cool Snacks & Drinks
Pack a cooler for snacks and drinks on-hand. I always put the cooler right behind the middle console so I can easily reach around and grab things and hand them off! For dry good and and other to-go items that don’t need to be as cool, I keep in another lunch box at my feet. My favorite products for packing food and drinks on the go can be found here.
Don't forget - have lots of extra water!
Check Your Electronics
If your children watch videos or listen to music, pre-download their hits on ipads, iphones, etc. before departing. We also pre-download Podcasts and Audiobooks before departing!
Losing service or running through your data is no fun. Ensure headphones, chargers and other electronic needs are close at hand for parents and kids who need them! We keep a phone charger plugged in and ready all the time.
Remember that Diaper Bags are Still Relevant
Just because you are packing a whole suitcase of clothing, extra diapers and toys doesn’t mean a diaper bag isn’t relevant. The last thing you want to do is pull out a suitcase on the side of the road for a diaper explosion, or have to rummage through the whole car to grab a change of clothing when there is a big milk spill in the backseat.
Make sure your regular diaper bag is handy for rest stops and restaurants as needed along the way.
Plan your Logistics
Winging it with kids is a lot harder than just winging it as adults – ah – remember those days?! So free…
Plan ahead for rest stops or fun places to stretch your legs along the way! Doing your research ahead of time helps a lot. Avoid bickering over where the next stop for food is or how to get to a playground that appeared to be off the highway but is actually like… 20-minutes out of the way.
Know where you are going, how to get there, and the options you have to get there! Plan ahead. Calculate for rush hour and meal times. For our first trips to Tahoe, I did a my research ahead of time and found our lunch break spot in advance. It was great because it was a safe outdoor mall with a large playground and a carousel - which totally helped in breaking up the drive!
Avoid extra stops by having spares – bottles, waters, sippy cups, toys, headphones, etc. Handing back an extra sippy, snack cup, or stuffed animal is much easier than stopping every 5 -minutes when someone drops something that needs picking up. Most of parenting while traveling is watching the road and handing things backwards...
Prepare for the Worst
If you don’t already have and need a car-sick kit in your vehicle, you are lucky! We travel with a set of medical latex gloves, trash bags, water wipes, paper towels and clean hand towel (i.e. to cover a car seat that gets….. errrr…. vomitty).
Prepare for someone to get car-sick, even if it has never happened! A spare change of clothing and First Aid Kit is also clutch in the car! An umbrella for good measure if you the weather is iffy!
Prepare Entertainment for All Ages
Podcasts, videos, audiobooks, games, toys, coloring, snacks — it’s all good on a road trip! Make sure to plan ahead for yourself and the little ones. Pre-load videos and audiobooks, charge up anything with a battery, check the headphones, and put together a bag or basket of good toys and games for the car! I love the magnetic drawing board for one!
Get gas ahead of time and pack when the kids are sleeping the night before/in the morning if possible. Ensure that getting on the road is as easy as possible by preparing in good measure. Your logistics will be completely squashed if you are an hour delayed and that means hitting rush hour or trying to coerce a hangery toddler into their carseat.