What A Long Strange Trip Its Been: My Top Five Tips For Road-tripping With Kids

I was always that Mom that HATED the idea of making the dreaded move into a Mini-van. I still don't necessarily love that we have one, but when it comes to convenience there really is nothing better- especially if you are a large family that likes to hit the road hard.

I love taking off for day trips with my kids! If it is a break from school or a nice weekend, you can bet you will find us out on the way to a fun destination. We enjoy trips into NYC and Brooklyn, we like exploring out on the eastern end of Long Island, and we even have started looking around in Upstate New York.

Most recently, we took off as a family on a whirlwind adventure bringing us to Washington DC, Hershey Park in Pennsylvania , and Mystic Connecticut. Since we go on so many day trips I had my car mostly ready, but being that we are in the midst of the Winter that will not leave I found myself getting a little flustered while packing. I have a few different methods for organizing my family and I am hoping they help you as well.

Here are my top five tips for getting your family road trip ready:

1. Car clean out:
No matter what car you drive, there really is nothing better than a spotless car ( At least if you are like me and have slightly OCD tendencies).  I love emptying my car and taking it in for a quick detailing before loading it up with everything for our trip. I find that doing this before your trip makes a huge difference, especially if you are about to practically live out of your car for the next few days.

2. Pack your basics:
I like keeping our car stocked most of the time with our basic stuff, but if we are about to go on a road trip I go back and make sure we have the following packed:

  • Children's Dramamine, Puke Bags, & Ponchos ( We have a car-sick prone kid- Children's Dramamine has helped, but its always a great idea to have puke bags handy. I have also learned that Plastic disposable Ponchos are just handy in a multitude of ways- namely in this case as a cheap and easy way to protect the car seats.)
  • Car toys & stuffed animals ( I have a backpack that is packed with coloring books, dry erase books/dry erase markers, cars, play dough, etc- it is packed and ready for the car or plane. We also can't go anywhere without my son's giant bear, Baby. I triple check before we leave to make sure he is with us, as I have witnessed the fall out- spoiler: it was not a fun situation.)
  • DVDs ( We usually do a Library run and pick up a few movies so we aren't stuck listening to the kids watching the same thing on repeat.)
  • Diaper Bag 
  • Cooler ( I usually stock us up with waters and juice boxes- but if you enjoy checking out local farm stands this is great too. We have been able to take home milk, cheese and even ice-cream just because I keep a cooler in our car.)
  • First Aid Kit

3. Snacks:
I feel like my children are just bottomless pits. I try to limit snacks in between meals , but somehow they still seem to exist on snacks. On road trips I don't mind so much though, mostly because the average children's menu consists of chicken strips, burgers, or Mac and cheese. I try and use snacks as my opportunity to sneak in fruits and veggies. Usually I will pack trail mix/ granola bars, squeezable apple sauce ( I try and get the ones that have other fruits and veggies blended in.), raisins, apples, clementine oranges, fruit leather, and organic cheddar crackers.

4. Bring fun:
My kids are finally at the age that they are getting a little more independent. My two big guys LOVE to cruise around on their scooters! I love packing them for them since they are easy to track down and carry or even toss onto my stroller. It is a great way to give them a break and get them to expend some extra energy with out having to hear " My legs hurt!" on repeat if we take a long walk. Don't forget to pack helmets!

5. Pack your bags smart:
I never imagined how much clothing can add up from three small humans, but boy does it ever! I feel like it can be especially challenging to pack your kids for a trip when the weather is all over the place.  One day it is warm, one day it is snowing- so what do you pack?! As a rule, I tend to dress my kids in layers- but the clothes add up quick- so when we travel my rule is to re-use and recycle ( You know- unless its covered in food or a bodily fluid.) I pack one sweatshirt per every two days of travel. As far as outfits, I like to bag them in gallon Ziploc bags. I pack each day of clothing so it is a simple grab and go process each morning. For PJ's I also go by the rule of two wears per set. I also always pack two extra days worth of outfits just in case. I tend to stay away from individual luggage after having a really rough cross-country plane ride, and we just do one large duffel or suitcase for the kids now.

I hope these tips help you on your way, Happy Travels!



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