Happy HUMMMMP DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!
(Now fake like I am right next to you and I sang it to you like an opera singer...fun, right?)
I hope your week is going fantastically and your Friday comes quickly. We're so effing busy with work and with life right now that my days are all flying by. I actually wouldn't mind if they slowed down a little bit - I only have a little over 5 weeks left here and I'd like to savor them (and as many poke bowls as possible).
And just in case you're worried, because I'm SURE you are...I've already found several poke restaurants in Rhode Island and Massachusetts that are totally in driving distance from where we'll be living. Me being the crazy person I am, I have no issues driving 3 hours for a day trip somewhere...it's just the way I was raised! More on that in a minute, but first...
Also, Jules is back to her usual shenanigans...
She is walking/running pretty well now. She still has a bit of a limp and walks kind of wobbly and her balance is way off - the doctor says it will take some time for her to get full mobility back into her joint - but as most toddlers do, she has adapted and is up and running. Literally.
And walking the dog as much as she can. You can tell by the look in Jax's face how much he loves it when Jules walks him. But like I said before, ever since figuring out Jules will feed him anything she's eating he's become much more tolerant of her.
As mentioned above, I will drive 3 hours for a day trip...one way. That's 6 total hours in one day. But if it's for something super fun and worth it, like a trip to the beach or an awesome amusement park, why wouldn't I?
I'm pretty sure this sense of adventure and doing stuff is something that runs in our genes or something. My entire family, mother's side and father's side, are a bunch of traveling/adventuring fools. My Gran moved to the U.S. after a childhood in Nazi-occupied Norway and my dad's mom moved to Boston with her husband where she didn't know anyone and my other grandma has traveled literally all over the world. As I was growing up, we would go on trips everywhere, usually by driving. My Gran and Granther drove my brother and I from Illinois to California to see family twice in my childhood - once when I was 8 and another time when I was 12. That's a long-ass drive to take with 2 kids! And we'd regularly drive from Illinois to Florida with my mom and step-dad, grandparents, and my siblings. It's just what we do!
Needless to say, after having Justin I wasn't about to stop traveling and road tripping everywhere - it's the absolute best way to see the country and it's fun!
(please ignore the straps on Justin's carseat - I obviously didn't know 12 years ago how to strap him in properly...pretty sure no one knew that 12 years ago).
Having children makes the whole thing a bit more complicated, however don't fret - it's totally doable! Justin was a champ at the whole road trip thing practically from birth and Jules...well Jules was a bit more difficult since she hated her carseat and would scream whenever she was in it, however we still managed to drive up to Virginia and back for a spring break vacation last year when she was 8 weeks old and that's a 12 hour drive!
Without further ado, here are my top tips to successfully road trip with kids:
This post will include some affiliate links - these are things that I have personally bought and found really useful in regards to this topic. Should you choose to buy an item based on my recommendation, I will get a very small commission from Amazon as a thank you. See my full disclosure here.
Bring stuff for them to do.
This may seem obvious, but don't expect your kids to just sit in the back quietly without anything to do. For an older kid like Justin, it's easy enough to bring his phone and a charger, headphones, and a book or two. That's all he needs. However when Justin was younger, we always brought crayons and drawing paper, some Legos in a small tin, mad libs (LOVE mad libs), and the iPad/computer so he could watch a movie or two.
It's a bit more difficult to keep a toddler entertained, however it's doable! First and foremost, I highly recommend getting them something new to play with. We bought this for Jules a couple of months ago and she loves it, and I'm planning on getting this for her for our huge impending road trip/vacation/relocation up North. It's a good idea to give them something new (or something they haven't seen for awhile) for the trip so they are really interested and play with it for awhile.
I also have absolutely zero issues with screen time for a road trip (or really anytime...pick your battles, people). So we always bring an iPad so Jules can watch movies/tv shows. We have Netflix, so we're able to download movies on our iPad - her favorite right now is Secret Life of Pets and she still loves Moana. While I hope to one day have one of those fancy schmancy cars with the built-in entertainment system, right now we don't have that. So how does my toddler watch movies without throwing/breaking/killing my iPad (or phone when the movies didn't download on the iPad and we have to leave right now...aka the last time we went to the beach)? I got this on Amazon a few months ago and we've used it several times. It is extremely easy to set-up and you can put pretty much anything in it. We bought it primarily for the iPad but we've used our phones as well and it keeps them in place well enough AND Jules can't reach whatever we've put in there to mess with it. I wish I had a picture of it in my car, but I suck. Sorry.
Bring plenty of snacks/drinks
We always bring fun snacks/drinks for everyone whenever we drive anywhere over an hour. I know some people are anti-eating-in-the-car, but it's insane to expect your toddler not to have a snack when you're driving anywhere long-distance. Same for drinks. Plus, how fair would it be for me to be eating cheddar cracker Combos (my road trip snack) and not let the kids eat? Bring a sippy cup and plenty of bottled water for everyone (we don't drink soda) and make sure someone is sitting in the back with your toddler while they're eating to ensure they don't choke - and don't give them anything super crunchy or hard so you eliminate most of the choking hazard. Jules only eats soft foods like cereal bars or bananas in the car to eliminate the choking risk. Yes, I do usually end up with my car being covered in food, but I honestly don't care if it helps to ensure a happy road trip. It also leads to more bathroom breaks, but that leads me to my next point which is...
Take plenty of breaks
I know this may seem insane to some of you and my husband is still getting used to it, but when I drive long-distance I never go for longer than 2.5 hours without stopping. Part of this has to do with me being terrified of getting a blood clot and you should be too, especially if you're on birth control. But it's also just a good thing to get up and walk around for a few minutes, especially when driving with kids. We love a rest area when it's daytime and if there are a lot of other people there. When I drive long-distance without my husband and without any other adults, I only stop at rest areas under those conditions for safety reasons. So if it's dark or the rest area is mostly deserted, we'll wait and stop at a big gas station or a McDonalds or even a playground if I can find one. Get out of the car, change diapers, everyone goes to the bathroom even if they say they don't need to, we usually get another snack, walk around and shake our limbs, get some fresh air, and then jump back in for another few hours before doing it again.
I also do lots of research every time I drive/do anything and try to find things we can do along our route that can give us a break from the monotony of the drive. And if you're really lucky, Niagara Falls will be pretty close to where you're driving and you can pull off and see it. It ended up adding about 2 hours to our drive, but it was totally worth it.
Don't try to do it in one shot and be flexible
If you have a 12-16 hour drive planned (or more) and you're doing it with kids, don't try to do it all at once. That's insane. If they're older kids it's more doable, but when you have kids under 5 you're just asking for a hell of a drive. When we start our relocation/vacation road trip in July, I'll be driving the first half of the trip by myself, with Justin and Jules and our two cats. We'll be stopping at my dad's house which is north of Tennessee for a couple of days before heading up to my mom's house and that's a 12 hour drive. I'm not going to do it in one day - I probably could, but it would be awful for everyone involved. Instead, I'm going to leave Friday afternoon and drive as far as possible before stopping for the night around 9. Then we'll only have a 6-8 hour drive left the next day.
Additionally, be flexible. When we drove back from Virginia when Jules was only 2 months old, we originally planned on driving straight through. Then Jules completely lost her shit in Georgia and we decided to stop for the night in Savannah instead of trying to push it through, because that would have been miserable for everyone.
Helpful hint for you: 90% of the time when we stop on a road trip we have some sort of pet with us, so we always stay at Red Roof Inn. They allow pets and don't charge any type of pet fee, and a lot of their motels have been completely remodeled with wood floors so they're a lot nicer than I think they used to be. I try to do some research prior to leaving and find hotels along our route with good ratings that we can stay at should we need to stop and have never had to stay in a total crap hotel.
Sit in the back
This obviously won't work if you're driving by yourself with one kid, but if you have another child or adult with you, have them sit in the back to help with your baby/toddler. I'll probably get crucified for saying this, but there have been times when we've been driving somewhere and Justin started in the front seat and jumped in the back at a stop light because Jules was losing her shit. Now we usually just plan to have him sit in the back if we're driving anywhere remotely long distance so he can keep her happy/fed/watered if she needs it. Or to nap in solidarity with her...
Make sure the temperature is comfortable
This is especially relevant when you live somewhere with hot temperatures or in the summer and have a baby/toddler. When you have a child in a rear-facing carseat, the recommendation now is to keep them rear-facing until they're 2 and even longer if possible (35-40 pounds, which for our little peanut will be until she's like 5). It's a lot safer for them and protects them better in the event you're involved in a car accident. With that said, when they're facing backwards they're not getting the benefit of the air conditioning like everyone else in the back who's facing forward. I'm pretty sure a lot of the reason Jules constantly lost her shit in the car seat was because she was hot. So now I always make sure two of the vents in my car are angled to hit the backseat and let them run a lot cooler than I personally need so she can stay comfortable. And if you have a car with a/c vents in the backseat, I'm jealous of you and you thought this out way better than I did :-)
I hope you've been able to find something helpful out of these tips on how to have a successful road trip with kids, but my #1 piece of advice is just do it. I've seen a lot of comments/posts here and there about people who are too scared to travel with their kids and in my opinion, you're doing yourself and your kids a disservice by not getting out there! The country/world is so big and the more we see, the more we can appreciate it! I know it sucks when you have to stay in a hotel/motel/tent and their sleep/nap/meal schedule gets thrown off, but I promise it's worth it! I mean, I have been dragging Justin all over this great country of ours (and he's been to Europe several times to see his dad) and he is such an independent and laid-back kid who has been a total joy to raise and I promise you we never had any type of nap/sleep/meal schedule. So don't let your fear of the trip stop you - just do it!
Have any of you reading done any crazy road trips with your family? Either when you were a kid or with your kids now? I actually hate flying (control issues) and would drive everywhere if I could! I'm lucky my husband loves me because he's the total opposite, but he goes along for the ride...literally. HA, PUNNY!!
And I almost forgot...I have another Le Tote coupon and this is a really good one! I am still 100% subscribing and absolutely loved the box I got last week so I still highly recommend, especially if you're between sizes! Click below and make sure you use the coupon code FIRST50 and you'll get 50% off your first month!