So far this summer we’ve spent about 60 hours in the car as a family, getting to our vacations. :) It’s not been near as bad as I anticipated, and we’ve learned a few trips along the way- so I’m here to share!
Our best road-trip travel hacks:
Slip on shoes for kids. Keep in one place when inside the car so you don’t have to search for them every time you need to get out. We especially love Natives so this is usually what they are wearing.
We are big fans of leaving early in the morning so that we can take a pit stop at lunch. So, we get up early. To help the kids sleep, and because I just love it, I keep my car diffuser on all the time- usually with a relaxing scent like lavender. I will throw some peppermint oil in there if I’m driving and feeling sleepy and it perks me up right away. This is the one I have, and it works well, though I wish I would have tried this one since it doesn’t take up a cupholder.
Unlimited screen time & cell phone hotspot or downloaded movies. That’s right- we give our kids unlimited screen time and turn on one of our cell phone hotspots while driving. We came really close to using up all of our data this month, but didn’t and it was worth it for the peace and quiet! Also, we say “unlimited” screen time, but in reality they fall asleep watching or their devices die. If you don’t want to turn on your hotspot, you can download selected movies from Netflix for free. They expire in a week so be sure to do it just before your trip. A couple of must-haves for this are some good headphones (we have had plenty break, these are the best), durable iPad cases. We keep a designated backpack to hold all 3 tablets, headphones, and chargers so that they are easily found when not in use.
Stay hydrated- We also always bring an insulated mug for both Shawn and I and a water bottle for each kid. The kids know they are in charge of their own cup, so it gives them a little responsibility- though we are still picking them up a lot! Did you know you get a .10 discount if you bring your own mug to Starbucks?! Also, on this note- you’ll want to check out the travel potty that we love because it definitely came in handy!
I bought several snacks in bulk at Sam’s before the trip and they really came in handy and kept us from buying junk at the convenience store. (However, my love for chewy Sweet Tarts did overpower me once!) For these trips I bought fruit snacks, Goldfish, Pop Chips, zBars, turkey pepperoni, bottled water, powdered flavorings for water, Babybel cheese, and apples. We kept them all in my favorite travel cooler bag with these flexible ice packs and the cold items stayed nice and cool!
Get a good gas station routine. To cut down on time and confusion at pit stops (and there are many when you have 3 littles), we stick to this plan every time- Shawn gets gas and takes Knox to bathroom, I clean out trash and take girls. Seems small, but saves us a lot of stress.
I always bring a small dish brush (this one fits in my toiletry bag) and a travel sized container of dish soap. I’ve used it for so many things- namely cleaning our water bottles, but they have come in handy with shoes, stains, and lots of other things!
I love to pack with compression bags. I have found I can fit so much more in and keep it all organized with them.
When there’s room, I bring a foldable laundry hamper that I set up in the room where we are staying. Makes doing laundry after we get home a breeze and keeps the room clean.
I love a good list- so here are some things that makes life easier for us when traveling!
IN THE CAR
• Band-Aids (these are for practical purposes but also entertain when you’re in a pinch! Warning- they make lots of trash)
• The Best Portable Potty Seat + Liners (we LOVE this foldable potty seat and the throw away liners. It comes with a bag to store everything in and fits under a seat!)
FOR THE KIDS
• Boogie Wipes (we love the grape ones)
• Kid’s Melatonin (We first used these to help with jet lag while in China, and they work so well for our kids that we now take them with us whenever we travel.)
• Kickee Pants Blankets So soft and lightweight, fold up to a small size
• Our Favorite Activity Books
FOR THE BABIES
• Airlight Carrier - we used this when the Tula was too hot. The airlight is mesh and breathable, perfect for a newborn to about 6 months. It packs small and is also great for water/splash pad/pool situations because it dries quickly. Of course, I wouldn’t swim in it- but it was nice to have when I was supervising one child while wearing another.
Oils that I typically carry are
Thieves - germ blaster
R.C. - excellent for congestion
Lavender - sooooo many uses but great for allergies, bug bites, promoting sleep
Peppermint - Shawn swears by this for headache relief, great for tummy aches and cooling in the heat
DiGize - for all those tummy troubles after adventurous eating
Geranium - this is a MUST HAVE for us because Liv gets nosebleeds and this oil stops them quickly
Oregano - ear infections, other infections)
LUGGAGE + GEAR
• Hardside Rolling Suitcases - These are great because they are expandable and hold a lot.
• CamelBak - I bought one of these years ago and now Shawn mostly carries it. It’s been great for family camp and other days when we’ve been outside a lot.
• Double Inline Stroller - This one folds down relatively small and we have loved it!
• Extra Gallon Ziploc Bags/a few empty plastic grocery sacks- these are great for alllllll sorts of things. Use them as a dry bag or to cover super dirty shoes. They don’t take up much room and I love having them because I always find a use for them.
• Foldable Cart (Beach) - Thankfully, the condo we rented had one of these, but we found out quickly that the wheel size matters! This cart is pricier but worth it when you’re dragging your stuff across the sandy beach.
• Pop-up Beach Tent - a MUST HAVE with an infant!