Annalyn is on spring break this week, so yesterday we took a little road trip. Good friends of ours live three hours away, so we met halfway between our houses for lunch and a couple hours in the park. Driving the three-hour round trip (and managing the acrobatics required to hold a not-quite-walking-yet toddler while using the restroom. In a regular sized stall.) reminded me of the first few road trips we took with Annalyn.

It took me a while to figure out how to do road tripping with kids. And not that any trip was ever perfect. For the record, I’ve seen this in my rear view mirror many, many times:

Annalyn is a seasoned road trip vet these days, but Adrienne is still learning. She loves riding in the car, but she hates (H-A-T-E-S) sitting in the car when it’s not moving. Stop signs. Stop lights. Parking lots before I can get out and liberate her from that torture device I call a car seat. So, you know, we’re a work in progress.

We’ve figured a few things out…but [like every other part of parenting] I needed a refresher. So I looked back at the road trip tips I shared several years ago, and it turns out, they still make sense. In case you have a road trip {with kids} coming up, here’s what has worked for me!

  1. Put toddlers in Pull-Ups. (Acknowledge that this will set you back a few weeks in the whole potty training ordeal, but recognize that accidents and extra laundry beat pee on a car seat any day.)
  2. Pack a sippy cup and at least two bottles of water. (You might think she can handle a little jug of milk from McDonald’s, but you will be wrong. And she will be wet. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.)
  3. Keep a basket full of rarely seen toys on hand. We have a set of toys that we keep in the car, and with the exception of a few tantrum avoidance incidences, that’s the only place Annalyn can play with them.
  4. Make sure you have a box of Kleenex and a glove box full of napkins. And don’t forget the wipes. I’m just saying. Messes happen, and usually when a rest stop is just a memory but your destination is still a good hour away.
  5. Music is your friend. And obnoxious children’s music is, unfortunately, your best friend. About a month ago, Annalyn requested “Bob music,” so we’ve been jamming to Veggie Tales for a few weeks. I swear, Junior is tone deaf, but it sure beats listening to Rubber Ducky – again.
  6. Snacks make the road trip! Our snacks of choice (look away, all my healthy friends) are fruit snacks, Cheerios, Goldfish and yogurt-covered raisins. I prefer the fruit because they don’t create crumbs. But any snack that involves small pieces will probably work.
  7. If your child is attached to a pair of sunglasses (or headband or necklace or jacket or purse – or all of the above), don’t forget them. But don’t hand them over all at once, either. Dole them out throughout the trip, so he always has something new to whine about fawn over.
  8. Always take an extra outfit. For both of you. Trust me on this one.
  9. If you have room in the trunk, pack the stroller, the pack and play, or whatever equipment is appropriate for your child’s age.
  10. Blankets can serve a host of purposes. Keeping your kiddo warm, giving her something to hold onto as she (fingers crossed!) naps, and in extreme cases, keeping your seat belt strap from digging into your shoulder if you happen to wear a shirt with a wide neckline.

I’m not going to lie. I could hashtag each one of these tips with #askmehowiknow. But don’t. Don’t ask me how I know. Just assume that I learned the hard way – so you don’t have to. (I know. I’m a giver.)

Have you taken any road trips lately? Do you have any tips for traveling with children?

 

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