Some people may consider my willingness to drive long distances solo with my two girls, ages 4 and 11 months, “crazy” or even “risky.” Yes, it is not the first idea that comes to mind when I think of vacationing with my children. However, sometimes it is the only option for whatever the reason — financial, timing, distance, etc. So, I do it.
Since I’m no stranger to road trips with kiddos I figured I would help you out and provide some of my road warrior wisdom. These tips can be used for single-parent road trips or family road trips alike.
Extra Set of Clothes for Everyone: Like all adventures with children of any age, having a change of clothes is important. Not only do I recommend having a change of clothes, including underwear, socks and shoes for the kids, but you need one for yourself as well. I can’t tell you how many roadside emergencies that ended with me covered in something I did not want to be covered in. Having a backup for everyone will be a lifesaver.
A Roll of Paper Towels:I think this one is obvious but I will be the first to say there were several times I was caught without a roll of paper towels on a road trip and regretted it! These are helpful for the big and little spills and the dreaded car sick moments.
Magic Marker Coloring pads: I use these for travel on the road or in the air. They are mess free, small, and entertaining for your kids. Also, when your child has finished with them you can toss them and have one less thing to add to your travel clutter.
We also use these when flying see more tips for Flying with kids here:9 Things You Won’t Want to Forget When Flying with Preschoolers
Snack Packs: in a gallon zip lock bag make a snack pack with a variety of things to choose from. That way when your kid or kids are hungry they can choose their snack themselves. This will save you a stop and a headache of arguing that “this is all you have!” or “I don’t like goldfish.”
Car Seat Organizer: These go on the back of the seat in front of your kid’s and not only protect your car seat from little feet but hold all their stuff and keep it organized.
Wet wipes: Yes, most of us have these but if you are out of the diapering age make sure you grab some before you hit the road. They are multifaceted, hand cleaning, mess cleaning, and of course butt wiping.
Beach Towel: More clean up essentials. You just never know when your kid might need to strip down, and having a beach towel to wrap around them, clean up a huge mess, or use as a curtain roadside it is always best to be prepared and have one on hand. I would go as far to say have one for each child.
Puke Bags: I discovered these while running a Disney race and throwing up on the finish line! These are awesome! I keep one in my car at all times. We don’t always get to it in time but if you have a kid (or adult) who is not feeling well make them hold it nearby just in case they have to puke. The bags I use have a round plastic ring that you put over your mouth with a plastic bag attached. It is relatively mess free and fits right in your glove box!
iPad:If you don’t have in-car entertainment make sure to bring an iPad fully loaded with a few movies games and TV shows. This is only if you have a kid who does not get motion sickness! If your kid has a habit of getting sick in the car, I do not recommend giving them an iPad or letting them watch anything while moving.
Mace: This is more for when I am on the road without my husband, but I keep a small thing of mace with my keys when road tripping. You just never know what might happen so be alert, aware and prepared. When stopping make sure to pick well-lit and populated locations. There are serious risks out there on the road so not being oblivious to those risks will help keep you and your family safe throughout your journey.
I am sure there are more things from an entertainment stand point that you might want to consider bringing, but from a practicality stand point these are things you do not want to forget when planning a road trip with your kids.
More Family Travel Tips: 8 Must-Haves When Traveling with Babies, PDX – Airport Play Area, Flyebaby – Infant In Arms Inflight Help, Feeding Baby – On the Road, Do your family photos when you travel, Packing Cubes- The best invention for traveling with kids