Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Taking Road Trips with Little Kiddos




Well, it's that time of year again for summer road trips and family vacations. 

And with us moving to Oklahoma, I foresee many more of these car rides in the next few years. 

In fact, we already have two or three planned this summer with the first being in two weeks! 
So, I thought it fitting to share my experience on traveling with the littles and some tips that have helped make the trips easier. 


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Some big things you need when traveling with little ones are: 
several forms of entertainment, food, changes of scenery and comfort. 
With a little planning and prep, these things should help make your trip much smoother! 
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Entertainment can come in all different forms and will depend on your child's age and what they like to do. Mine range from 1 to 5 years old and have different likes and attention spans, so finding something that suites all of their needs can be a bit challenging. But here are some ideas and things that have worked in the past...


NO- MESS COLORING/DRAWING
(Basically anything that is washable or that they can use without constant supervision)

I found these at Hobby Lobby.
I love them because they double up as a craft to color & then a toy to play after.
The kiddos got these in their Easter baskets from grandma.
They are small and perfect for the car. You can color, draw & put stickers on the pages. It keeps them entertained for awhile. 
These are just dry-erase boards & washable dry-erase markers

Mini Magna Doodles. Who doesn't love using these?

OTHER FORMS OF FUN


Books, books and more books. My kiddos love to read. The key is
to pull out books that they haven't read in a long time. I keep a stash in a tub for road trips, doctor's visits, church, etc. 



                                  

My kids love getting pretty much anything they don't get on
a regular basis. So whether its sunglass or new cheap jewelry
from Hobby Lobby, they love it.

        
Oh the toys. Just like the books, we keep a handful of random toys
in a separate place to use for places other than at home. We will
probably keep these handy for having to go in the storm shelter 
this summer! Eek.



                            

                       Who knew it was so fun to weave pipe cleaners through colanders?!
                             I got these cute colanders in the dollar section at Target.
                               Perfect size for my littles. When they are done weaving,
                               they usually start to play their own games using
                             the colanders as hats and the pipe cleaners as 
                          anything they want them to be!

                             
                                These are pretty neat. I found them at Walmart. 
                              Each kit has a foldout scene & several pieces to put on it.
                                 For the younger ones, you will need some sort of tray
                               so they don't lose the pieces.



Once you have all the items you are going to use for the trip, it's time to prep. What I like to do is label big Ziploc baggies for the different children and legs of the trip. Once you've decided how many different legs/bags you'll have, it's time to fill.



(Doing this a few times before, I've found it best to switch up what type of activity/toy they'll have for every leg of the trip. For instance, if they'll have coloring stuff for the first leg, put toys and books in the bag for the second leg, and so on and so forth. And might I suggest that if you have some sort of crayon, marker or other writing utensil in a bag, don't put in an item such as a book that they can ruin with the color) 



Once all your bags are filled, put them in a bin or box in the back of your car with easy accessibility. 


To make it more fun, have a separate designated bag or basket for each kid that you will fill with the contents of the baggie every time you have a major stop. This also helps them keep all their stuff together while you're driving.





The kids will be so excited to see what they get next, that they'll forget they're having to be trapped in the car once again. 

(Don't forget to put the "old items" back in the baggies before you give them new stuff!!! And if you stop more than you anticipated and run out of bags, start again with bag #1)


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Snacks... Snacks... and more Snacks... My favorite part of road trips growing up was the "gas station food." I LOVED being able to go in and pick out a treat. Heck, as an adult that is STILL one of my favorite parts so why not let the little ones enjoy that same thing? You don't have to give them free reign and let them choose candy every time, but you can give them a couple options whenever you stop for gas to pick from... OR if you want to save the money, buy some new fun snacks beforehand that are easy to eat in the car. Either way, give them something to munch on after every time you have a major stop to help start the next leg of the trip on a good note :)


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Change up the scenery. Most parents traveling with kids want to get from point "A" to point "B" as fast as possible without stopping a million times. And believe it or not, that is possible with kiddos. Our last trip (that normally takes about 9 hours of driving), only took us a total of 10.5 hours with only 3 stops (which is AMAZING with four children). Make sure every time you have a major stop, you have all the kids try and go potty and/or change any diapers. This will not only give them time to stretch, but will hopefully eliminate having to stop again in 20 minutes for the ONE child who didn't go. After potty breaks, load up the car, pick a snack and fill the entertainment bag with new contents. We usually give our kids a good hour to explore with their new activities. (At this age, they tend to check out pretty early on). Once we feel that they are getting anxious, we put on a movie. We've found that between the variety of toys, munchies, napping and the movies, we can drive for about 3 hours without ever having to stop!

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Last but not least, comfort. You and I both know what a world of difference being comfortable in the car can make. And luckily, for most kids, all it takes is a soft blanket, pillow and/or stuffed animal. We've taken pillow pets and small blankets in the past, but I came across these gems (neck pillow with matching blanket) on sale at Target and thought they'd be a great investment with as much car time as we are going to have.


Something else that helps with the overall trip is having a tray for the kids to put their snacks and toys on. We had a couple small ones we purchased from Target years ago that attach to the car seat, but I actually found some bigger ones at Hobby Lobby which were, once again, on sale... :)




So there you have it! Those are most of the tricks I use to make the day-long car trips not so miserable for the kids and for us! I hope they help you too... !!!


HAPPY TRAVELS..