Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Traveling with kids can be really intimidating, especially if you're going to be on the road for a long time.  Just a week ago, we drove almost 300 miles from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Chicago, Illinois.  This was our family's second time to Chicago, but our first time with 4 kids in the car.  I knew that I was up for a challenge! I learned a few tricks from our first car trip so I was much better prepared this time.  I'm going to share my top 10 tips for road trips with kids.

#1- Get Organized For Your Trip
A great way to keep everything your little one will need all in one place and easy for them to reach and use is the DMoose Car Seat Travel Tray. I was sent one of these in exchange for a review. This travel desk is a super handy tool, providing ample space for your little one to color, draw, play and eat!  It is sturdy, durable, wipeable- easy to clean, plus it comes in three fun colors!
There are multiple pockets and dividers to keep everything organized and easier for your child to all their activities.  It's simple to assemble- just put everything in and you're ready to go!  Below is a video I made of how I packed it up.
There is a long strap with a buckle that you can use to keep the tray more secure. You can choose to not clip this around your child- as I noticed it rests pretty well over my children's car seat or lap without this step. My oldest daughter loved being able to have her own car seat organizer because she loves writing and drawing. I will need to purchase a second, if not a third!
#2- Let Your Kids Pick Out NEW & Special Toys & Activities
To find inexpensive toys and activities, check the Dollar Tree! Dollar Tree is one of my favorite places to go to save money because everything's $1! I can get all 3 girls three toys and spend less than $10!  They have so many options and many educational materials- like coloring books and lesson books.  All of the girls chose unicorns and ponies, and the older two also got Flarp (a colorful putty in a canister that makes farting noises- how exciting, right?). My 8 year old got a basketball with a hoop and my 4 year old got a mermaid doll set.  My son got 3 packages of Pokemon cards. The baby got Peppa Pig Activity Kit with stickers too.  The kids really like getting prizes along the way during the trip. A few other fun ideas for prizes are sunglasses, bubbles or a special little box they can decorate with stickers to keep things in! EXTRA TIP: It's helpful to only give them one toy to play with at a time. You can even say after so-and-so miles they get the next one.  

#3- Keep Lots Of Healthy Snacks On Board
Making up PB&J sandwiches ahead of time is a fantastic way to save money!  Plus, it's easy to make sure what you're eating on the road is healthy for your family. My 4 year old has a gluten intolerance and we've been gluten-free for a year.  It's hard finding gluten-free options while on the road, so preparing ahead of time is perfect for us.  Here are some other great ideas for snacks: cut up some veggie sticks, clementine oranges, pretzels, graham crackers, organic fruit snacks and some dark chocolate (ok maybe that last one is just for mom). 

#4- Plan Where You'll Make Stops
Study the map on your route and figure out some stops to get out, walk around and stretch, use the restroom, nurse the baby, etc.  A gas station or rest stop may be adequate for a short 5 or 10 minute stop but I have found that burning off some steam on a playground or running into a supermarket with a concise task for your child (like locating the apples or granola) seems to work good.  Be sure to give them a prep-talk on expectations beforehand to help your road trip break run smoothly.  

#5- Bring Along The Favorites
This may be sort of obvious, many kids have a lovey and the whole world will end if they don't have it.  My youngest has her blankie and there's no way we'd make it without.  So make sure these are on top- even better yet, in kiddo's line of vision.  Do they have a favorite book, too?  Anything that's comforting to them, bring it along.  Their car seat is basically "home" so they need to feel like all their needs are met.


#6- Play All The Music
Sing along to your favorite songs! Create a custom playlist by Trying Amazon Music Unlimited Free Trial. There are tens of millions of songs to select from, it is ad-free and streams from anywhere (you can play on the Amazon App)!  It's really easy to use. What's on our playlist? Lots of Disney stuff like music from the soundtracks of Frozen, Trolls, Tangled, Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Mary Poppins and theme songs from my kid's favorite shows like Paw Patrol and Daniel Tiger.
If that sounds like too much work to put together, there are channels pre-programmed for all ages.  Check out the Kids & Family genre for something perfect for you!

#7-  Games To Pass The Time
A great way to answer, "Are we there yet?" is to say, "Not yet, so let's play a game!" My family made up a game where you have to find letters in alphabetical order on signs.  They can be on anything: license plates, road signs, side of a truck, billboards or store signs. The youngest always gets to go first & gets the letter A. There's just one rule- no sharing!  Each letter has to be on a different sign.
The Road Trip Bingo "In-The-Car Bingo" from education.com is a fun game for everyone that helps pass the time, too!  You can download it for FREE.
Also, a nice idea to spend the time bonding, rather than arguing is to do a 20 Questions game- have them identify 20 things about Sister, Brother, Mom, Dad, Grandma, or anyone!  Questions can be what is my favorite food, what is my favorite t-shirt, what do (did) I want to be when I grow up, where would I like to travel, what is my favorite memory of us, how do I show that I love you, etc.  You can go on Pinterest and search "conversation starters" for more ideas!

#8- Tell Them To Take A Picture
Give your kids a camera or your tablet or cell phone and tell them to take pictures!  They will enjoy having the job of being the photographer and it's always fun looking back at the photos to see things from their perspective.

#9- Cut The Clutter
Keep a basket in between their seats so they can put things away when they are done playing with them and can find them without hassle next time.  Upcycle an oatmeal container into a garbage bin and use double sided duct tape to secure it to one corner of the basket.  You can award points for tidiness that can be redeemed for quarters or other incentives.  EXTRA TIP: Get a Gopher for them to reach any toys that go beyond their reach while vehicle is moving and they are secured in their seat.

#10-  Make It A Great Time
You do want to arrange extra time to ensure you get where you need to be, but remember that your trip is an adventure for all of you!  It might be a bit crazy and loud, but it will be fun and exciting!  You are making special memories every moment.  Seeing the whole experience in a positive light makes it a great time!

What has helped you during long trips?  Do you have any other tips to add?
Do you remember trips you took as a child?  Leave a comment below!  

All opinions are my own, written by me. This post may contain affiliate links. This disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. If you have any questions or have a product you'd like for me to review, please email latchedonmom@gmail.com

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