Road tripping with kids. Pretty much the definition of the word ADVENTURE. Planning for a big trip can be super stressful, so, to compile the top 5 tips to stay sane on the road with toddlers and tinies, we asked our friend Dani what really worked on her recent Maine road trip with her family.
1. Plan, but not too much. Let yourself be flexible, because everything may not go the way you envisioned it.
"Our trip was definitely relaxed! We aren’t the best planners and leave a lot of things to the last minute (yes, we are those people!). So, it was nice to go on vacation with friends who are better with planning. They had so many great things lined up, which we were mostly able to do. Favorite? Strawberry picking in Maine!"
2. Traveling with kids is exhausting. If your partner is with you, make sure you help each other get moments of rest.
"Since I’m a morning person, I snuck out a few times to be by myself. I sat by the beach and enjoyed the peace and quiet. And as for bedtimes and naps, we try and keep it as close to normal for the baby. Elliot and Asher get a bit more leeway, since they are older and deal with change better. We brought all of Gus’s normal bed time routine items: swaddle, sound machine, pacifier. We actually developed a new part of the routine on our trip, which is that I play with him for a good ten minutes before bed time. I make it very lively, so that when the swaddle goes on, he knows it’s time for sleep. It works very well for him."
3. Don’t do too much in one day. Space it out. Put aside a day to do nothing. Vacation can be restful, even with three kids, but we needed to know our kids’ limits as well as our own.
"As far as planning stops on the road, we use Gus’s feeding schedule as an indicator. It’s pretty much every three hours, unless he naps for a little longer. He isn’t a comfort nurser though, which helps. He doesn’t want to nurse unless he’s actually hungry (which I’m not used to! Asher was definitely a comfort nurser!). We find this works well. Our trip back to NJ from Maine was a whole 7.5 hours!"
4. Healthy snacks more frequently over huge meals. I’ve found that helped with kids. It’s much easier when you’re on the go and may not be able to stop for each meal.
"Our kids move a lot, even when they are strapped into a car seat (haha) so we make sure to pack snacks that are easily cleaned up if spilled. Nothing too sugary either because no one wants a jazzed up toddler on a six hour trip! The boys love apples or crackers in the car, but if they do get a treat we usually go for fruit snacks. They are pretty obsessed with those."
5. Make a packing list a few weeks before you leave. Keep adding to it up until you leave. It helps to give yourself time to remember everything you’ll need to bring and - let’s be honest - our brains need a little help remembering things after having kids!
"Here are my top items for a successful road trip:
New drawing pads with new colored pencils (crayons melt!).
I let the kids pick a toy to bring with them in the car. It helps that they picked it and hopefully that will keep it interesting for a while.
An iPad if you have one. Yes, I said it. But when all else fails, it’s very useful! It keeps us all sane.
For a baby, (if they are old enough) a hanging toy to distract any fussy moments. It’s a great distraction when you can’t stop the car right away if they are needing a break.
Great tunes! Sometimes you just need to get silly and sing your heart out and the kids will laugh at their parents’ “I’m losing it so I need to belt out a song and dance a little” craziness."
Thank you so much, Dani! xo