Our family likes to take trips, and many of them are short and sweet day trips, some involve flights, and some of them are road trips.  The Big One first took his first 12-hour road trip when he was 8 weeks old, and the Little Monkey took his first 12-hour trip when he was about 13 weeks old.  There are two main challenges for traveling with little ones– 1) Managing the actual road trip, and 2) Being prepared when you arrive at your destination.  I wanted to share a few hints and tips that I have learned over my travels that might be helpful to other mothers out there that will make your family #freetobe adventurous!

My Mom Made That: Car Traveling with Little Ones, Hints and Tips

Tips for the Road Trip:

#1 Technology is Your Friend:  Granted, I don’t want to encourage you to put your Little Ones in front of the television, but on a long road trip, you don’t have a lot of options.  Particularly for a younger child.  Between video services, iPods, iPads and portable DVD players, I have been able to entertain bored toddlers and preschoolers with a variety of educational and age-appropriate Apps, television shows and videos.

#2 Leave Early or Late: I learned this from a friend who told me that her parents always made her family leave for vacations at 4am.  Before I had children, I couldn’t imagine why anyone would choose to do that– sleep was far too important. Now that I have three kiddos, I’d rather lose a few hours of sleep, and get a couple of hours of driving under my belt before the children wake up.   If it’s a long drive, we will often leave at dusk with the kiddos in pajamas, drive for several hours, and then get up early the next morning and keep on driving.

#3 Take Wiggle Breaks:  When I travel with just the Mellow Man, or by myself, my goal is to reach my destination as quickly as possible.  I get gas, run in to the bathroom, and hit the drive through to grab a quick bite to eat.  Initially this was my plan with my kiddos, but I’ve learned that longer breaks make for happier littles.  We sit down to eat, take our time, and have a little outdoor play before climbing back in the car.

My Mom Made That: Car Traveling with Little Ones, Hints and Tips

Tips for Arrival:

 #1 Comfort Items are Key:  Whatever items will encourage successful sleep for your little ones are the most important items to pack.  If you can replicate that home sleep environment, you are more likely to have a successful trip.  In my house, if our kids are tired, we all suffer.  I allot a fair amount of our limited cargo space for items that will help our kids sleep.  Their pillows, blankets, soft toys and sound machine go a long way to insuring a good nights’ sleep.

#2 Look for a Room with a Kitchenette:  Or at least, a microwave and mini-fridge.  These two items are a must for our traveling family.  Luckily most hotels have them, just check when you make your reservation.  This means that we have cold drinks, a place to store heat up leftovers (we seem to have a lot from the Monkey), and a wide variety of kid-approved snacks.  This is a good cost-saving measure when you are planning your outings.

#3 Pack Light and Do Laundry:  I have boys, 3 of them now, and I do A LOT of laundry when we are at home.  Personally, I don’t want to have to pack 2-3 outfits for the boys each day.  That would mean that our car would be full of clothes.  Instead, I plan ahead to do laundry while we are on the road.  Many times we rent a condo or suite that has a washer and dryer in it.  Other times, we drop clothing off at the laundromat.  By doing this, my boys are #freetobe as adventurous and rowdy as they want because I know that we won’t be running out of clean clothes.  All Free Clear detergent is a great choice for travel because it’s gentle for the Little Peanut, and is a tough cleaner for my stinky tween!  For travel this means that I can toss the little boys clothes in with the grown up clothes– there is no need to use special baby detergent!  This is a huge time saver, and all of the clothes come out smelling fresh and clean, without any unnecessary perfumes.  (All Free Clear is the #1 recommended detergent brand by Dermatologists, Allergists, and Pediatricians for sensitive skin, so it’s a great choice for everyone in your family.)

Car Traveling Kids 1

What works well for your family when you hit the road for a summer adventure?