Jun 22, 2016
I'd like to think by now that Chris and I are somewhat well versed in the road trip arena. We have gone on our fair share of road trips in the six years we have added tiny beings to our travel adventures. From Arizona to Georgia, Georgia to Alaska, and back again. With many many vacations, via automobile in between. From infant to toddler. And let me tell you each and every one is a learning experience. This last one however was probably the most challenging because there were four kids, in one car, with limited space available for the Target dollar section. So we tried to make smart purchases as far as the essentials went. This post was probably the most requested while we were traveling, so hopefully it is somewhat helpful.
Here's the break down:
One: Travel Trays. We bought one of these for Ace when we moved to Alaska, and we knew we would be buying more. These work so well for so many things. Activities, eating, child containment, whatever! I love the little pockets so each kid can stash what he or she needs. Here is my only complaint which kind of turns into a non-complaint. They are not a hard tray, so the kids would get a little frustrated when they were building legos or something and they needed a hard surface. But, because they are foam, they are easy to fold up and store when not in use. So for me the pro outweighed the con...not sure if Ace and his leaning lego tower would agree. But I would recommend.
Two: iPad's or some other tablet. Now, I don't want to sit here and say that everyone needs to fork over the money for an iPad for each and everyone of their children. I mean, me and my siblings survived road trips without electronic devices for years. We fought a hell of a lot more than my kids did, some fights resulting in my two front teeth getting knocked out...remember that mom? Remember? Should have had an iPad right? Anyway, obviously the iPad's for each of my children were a life saver. They could each play whatever game, or watch a movie and time would just tick on. We made sure that when we were at the hotels to download different shows or movies so the kids had something new or different to look at. Also, this iPad case is the best! The kids can just carry them around, and they could stand them up as well.
Three: Headphones. The true secret weapon to any traveling event. Going along with all the iPad's in the car were the headphones. Or I for sure would have jumped into oncoming traffic if I had to listen to four different animated something or others. Other than the fact that the kids would then yell "MAAAAAMMM" so much louder with these things on, I was so happy we got them! And thank you to all my snapchat mamas who recommended this brand.
Four: Backpacks. Like I mentioned in this post, packing was quite the task. But if there is one thing I know about my children, it is that they are hoarders. So if you give them a backpack, they will give you the gift of self entertainment. Each of the older kids got a new "hiking" backpack, which was really just used for their uber special toys or books that they wanted to bring in the car. They each took great pride in packing them, and then carrying them every where. It was also a great way to keep the mess at bay. Stick it all in the backpack!
Five and Six: I could sing the praises of Melisa and Doug toys for years upon years. They are always my go-to company for all childhood entertainment. So I was so happy when I found these little travel activities. Ace loved the tape one, and it kept him occupied for so long! Pierce and Avalon had fun with the felt sticker ones. Mainly it kept them quiet because they had to work hard at getting those stickers off. And then I had to work hard at getting them off the windows. But whatever....that's the price you pay to stay sober right?
Seven: This latch board was for Odette. Honestly, I think the road trip was the worst for her because she was rear facing and kind of out of all the action. She would maybe watch a show for ten minutes, and then it was on to the next. This latch board was something that she really enjoyed and it kept her happy. Avalon also had fun with it when Odette would fall asleep. I have seen some tutorials for DIY latch boards, and Alex recently did one that I love! I went the lazy route and ordered it online, but I know you mamas are far more creative than I.
Eight: Neck Pillows. This is one of those learning experience things. After so many road trips we finally bought four of these. We had infant ones, but we are clearly not with it in the parenting department to put two and two together and just get four for our growing offspring's cranial support. I mean how many times have you been driving with your children and they fall asleep and you hit a bump or have to brake fast, their heads go rockin' and rollin' and BAM! No more siesta siesta. So these were lifesavers. I would jump in the back when they fell asleep, gracefully place their angel like heads into the neck stabilizer support system....and off to dreamland they went.
Nine: Water bottles. We have been using these water bottles since Ace could drink out of them. Each of the kids has one or two and we take them everywhere. They were essential for us. I feel like all my kids do is ask for food and more water. So keeping these full was my daily mission. They don't leak, and they fit in their car seat cup holders, so I mean, no brainer.
A few honorable mentions here.
-As we deemed it, a "treasure box". This is something we do for every long road trip. I grab an old box and hit up the dollar store or the Target dollar spot, and I fill that thing to max capacity! Everything from lollipops to slinky's to socks to books and crayons....whatever you can fit in there. Then when the kids are just at their breaking points but we have 73 more miles to go, you let them pick out a surprise. Or when you get to a rest stop and everyone stretches their legs and the kids go on strike to get back in the car.....treasure box! Let them pick something out once they are nice and strapped in, and you can buy yourself a few minutes. Trust me, it works.
-Also for Odette her options of activities were a little limited, such is life for a 14 month old. But while on a road trip, survival is the name of the game, so we went to extremes. So far as letting her completely empty a box of tissues, or a thing of wipes. You know what I am talking about. How many times have you left the room only to come back and 150 wipes are on the floor? Kids love it. So we let her do it. Sure it was an added chore to pick up, but nothing breaks my heart more than hearing her sit back there and cry. So eliminating that was my goal. Thank you Kleenex, I know you are better than that.
And I think that is it. Other than ample snacks and stops, these were the things that kept the crazy train on track.