Tonight we leave for our big road trip and I am SO excited!!!! The first part of the trip is gonna be a bit of a haul, because we are driving straight through the night in order to make it to San Fran for the 4th. I think its something like 14 hours....yuck! The good part is that the girls will be asleep (fingers crossed) for most of it because it is at night. I remember having so much fun on our family road trips growing up (in the backseat all cozy with our blankets and pillows, totally unbuckled and sometimes upside down, and listening to our CD players while stuffing ourselves with all the candy we got at every gas station), so I am very excited that we get to continue the tradition with our little family. I hope the girls enjoy them as much as I did. I have had a lot of fun preparing for this trip and I wanted to give you a list of the "must-haves" for our trip, so that if you are ever in need of a good list for a road trip with kids, you will know where to find it.
My "must haves" list for traveling with toddlers/babies on a road trip:
1. Road Trip Organizer. Whether you make one like I did or buy one at the store, I think this is great because it can hold all of the snacks, toys, coloring books and activities you need. I will say that it is difficult for little ones (Princess is almost 3) to reach the things in it, but it is still nice to have all her things in one place and to have it within (my) reach. Plus it is a great space saver when you are packing the car full for big road trips.
2. Umbrella Stroller. We have a giant, expensive, wonderful Uppa Baby stroller that we adore, but the one thing about it is that it would take up too much room in our car for this trip. And unfortunately fancy strollers like that are very likely to get stolen. Cities like Portland and Los Angeles have seen a rise in stroller thefts recently. Yikes! Two cities we are going through! So (my mother supplied the idea for this. Thanks Mom!) I bought an extra (cheap. $16 for the Cosco brand at Target) umbrella stroller to take with us. I already had one, so now we will have one for each girl and the two umbrella strollers together will still take up way less room than the one Uppa Baby.
3. Porta-crib and extra blankets. We are staying with friends/family on many of our stops, but most of them won't have a crib/port-crib on hand for a little one. So the Peanut will definitely need that. Princess still sleeps in a crib at home, but she is borderline at the point where she may sleep in a cozy nest on the floor (or she may keep getting up, who knows). So I'm gonna try and just bring a few big blankets and see how she does sleeping on the floor.
4. Medium sized ice chest. We got ours for less than $20 at a sports store. You can have milk on hand for the baby's bottles, as well as sandwich makings and fresh fruit and veggies for snacking. You can pack all kinds of healthy foods and snacks this way and you won't as easily stop for fast food! And if you have food in the car, you really don't have to stop for anything. Except gas and bathroom breaks of course. The one thing to remember is that you will need to keep refreshing the ice, or you could always do re-usable ice packs too, but you will need a freezer where you are staying to re-freeze them.
5. Trash bags. Whenever I forget to bring a trash bag on road trips, I always get so mad at myself, because then I end up gathering all the garbage that is all over the car to throw away when we get to a gas station. Its so annoying. So if you remember, bring a couple old plastic grocery bags and put in the glove compartment so that you will always have a place to put garbage and then when you come to a stop you just have to throw the one bag away.
6. Paper Towels. You will use them. Trust me. And in the case of potty trainers, toilet paper and large ziplocks. You never know. You could be in the middle of nowhere when, "Momma, I need to go potty!" And for baby, Diapers, wipes and changing pad.
7. Re-usable water bottles and sippy cups. We always go through tons of water.
8. First aid kit: Band aids, neosporin, anti-bacterial wipes and hand sanitizer (the green kinds, please!), sunscreen, tylenol (for kids and you), bee sting salve/ bug bite lotion.
9. Documents. Don't forget license, registration and insurance.....just in case you get a little leadfooted.
10. Emergency things. AAA card, or whatever roadside assistance you have. Ours is just through our insurance. Spare tires, jacks, chains.
11. Maps, city guides, hotel reservations, restaurant info, notebook to keep all information in.
13. Books on CD. For you and the kids. For this trip we got the Lord of the Rings CDs, since (gasp!) neither my husband nor I have read them. Entertaining for the adults, but child friendly enough for the kids to listen to. For the girls we have Madeline, Frog and Toad (love) and I bought Wind in the Willows for them. Princess and Peanut both love animals and that story is so classic and cute. Theirs come with read along books which is fun. Some other options I found (on Amazon) were Chronicles of Narnia, any Mark Twain or Jane Austen, Sherlock Holmes, Les Miserable. Winnie the Pooh and the Secret Garden. I'm thinking these will be great tools to help pass the time when we are really truckin it.
14. Music: iPads, iPods, CDs, whatever.
15. Movies: If you are lucky enough to have a DVD player in your car, well I hate you.....portable DVD players with headphones for each kid, iPad with shows pre-downloaded (the last thing you want is to be waiting for a show to download with the kids screaming).
16. Books: for you and the kids. Magazines: for you.
17. Ideas for kid activities: Coloring books and crayons, Color Wonder markers and paper (they only show up on the special paper. I would just NOT bring regular markers if you don't want the inside of your car decorated), Magnadoodle, Etch-a-sketch (oh yeah), books, LeapPads or other gaming devices, small dolls and toys, magnet scenes, felt scenes, small quiet toys, puzzles, sewing cards, new toys (always a hit). For rest stops, we are bringing a ball, chalk and bubbles so that she can play around a little bit. And don't forget loveys, blankies, and any special stuffed animal friends.
18. Ideas for snacks to put in their Road Trip Organizers: Granola bars, goldfish or bunnies, pretzels, yogurt covered raisins, fruit snacks, fruit leather, cookies, crackers, squeezy packs, freeze dried fruit or veggies chips (if your kids are healthy). Anything you can think of. Pretty much anything goes for the snacks on road trips, because you know, no matter what you do the car WILL get trashed.
19. Camera and video camera.
20. And since we're going to be gone for 4th of July, I got Princess some glow in the dark necklaces and bracelets. She is too little, but Pop-Its and sparklers would be cool too for older kids. Don't forget the special 4th of July outfits too!
Then obviously we will pack clothes, bathing suits, pj's etc. But that's a whole other list, for another time. :)
There you go. It may not be the most complete of lists, but its a pretty good start anyway if you are planning on road-tripping with little ones. I'm not sure if you will be hearing from me or not while I'm gone.....I may just surprise you......But either way, I will am definitely going to do a travel journal while I'm gone, so I can fill you all in with day by day posts when I get back. If I'm not posting, have a great rest of your week and a wonderful 4th of July!!!