Since my parents live over an hour from us and Jason’s parents are currently 4 plus hours away, we take a LOT of road trips with our kiddos. Weekend trips with little kids can be stressful, but I’ve leaned a few tips and tricks that help make it a little easier.
Weekend road trips are always so much fun, but exhausting at the same time. There is the packing, the driving to your destination (which can often be the most stressful part with babies who don’t like the car!) and the fact that everyone is out of their routine when away from home. When you get home, you have to unpack, do laundry and regroup for the upcoming week; it can be a LOT. Let’s be real too….most of the work falls on mom (I love my husband to death, but if I trusted him to pack the kiddos we’d be in trouble!) Here are a few of my tips to make traveling with babies a little less stressful.
Tip # 1- Have a Packing List
I keep a packing list in the back of my #erincondrenlifeplanner. I used to write out a new list every time we went somewhere, but that got to be repetitive, and I often left things off that I needed. Now I keep one list that I refer back to when we travel. I add to it when I realize there is something that could have been useful for a trip. The list is VERY detailed and includes sub sections for myself, my husband, each of our kids, our pets, and miscellaneous items we may need depending on the time of year, destination, etc. When it’s time to pack, I open up to that list to make sure I have everything I need. Even though the list is extremely detailed, I don’t have to pack everything on it; I can leave out things that aren’t needed for the specific trip we are taking, but I don’t have to stress that I am forgetting something that I may need.
Tip #2- Make a Checklist of Things to Do Before a Trip
Another list I keep in my planner (that thing is seriously my lifeline) is tasks to do before we leave for a trip. I don’t know about you, but I feel like every time we go somewhere the hour or two before we leave is SO hectic! Even though everything on this list is easy to do, I want to make sure I don’t forget something (no one wants a Home Alone moment when they arrive at their destination!) The list includes things like:
- clean out the fridge
- take out the trash
- leave a key for someone if they are coming to feed the pets
- turn off the lights
- clean the kitchen and run the dishwasher
- raise the thermostat.
I also try my very best to make sure the house is CLEAN before we go somewhere. There is nothing worse than coming home from a trip to a messy house.
Tip #3- Car Essentials
Keeping a toddler and a baby content while in the car can be a challenge. There are a few things I always make sure I have with us to make the drive a little less stressful.
- Food and Drinks- One thing that is sure to make Grayson happy is food (he clearly takes after his mama!), so I always make sure to have plenty of snacks and a full sip cup when we travel. Since Audrey is still drinking breast milk, I also keep a bottle of freshly pumped milk in case she gets hungry on the drive too.
- Toys and books- I keep a bag with some of Grayson’s favorite books and toys in the car. These are soft toys (like stuffed animals) that I know can’t hurt his baby sister if/when he decides to throw them. For Audrey, I hang little toys from her car seat to help stimulate her as much as possible.
- Entertainment- sometimes you have to pull out the big guns…that means technology. We have a DVD player in our Tahoe, so for long road trips we let Grayson watch movies in the car. I also make sure to have kid friendly music that he loves!
- Baby Shusher- if you’ve never heard of this product, look it up NOW! It is basically a portable sound machine that soothes your baby, and it is a life saver! When Audrey is fussy and I know she is tired, I turn it on and she usually goes right to sleep.
Tip #4- Keep your Normal Routines
This tip is probably the most difficult to one, but keeping kids’ routines the same while away from home help so much. That means trying to maintain the same nap and bedtime schedule, enforcing the rules, and keeping their routines as normal as possible (this usually is pretty difficult when you are visiting grandparents who want to spoil them rotten!)
Tip #5- Stay Organized
If you ask my family, I am HORRIBLE at this one, but keeping your things organized and in one place while at your destination is a smart idea. Doing so ensures you don’t lose anything or forget something when you head home. I like to try to bring a separate bag for dirty clothes. This way when I get home I know it goes directly to the laundry room, while everything else goes to our bedrooms to be put away (yes, I’m an over packer and don’t use or wear half the stuff I bring places…working on this).
Tip #6- Relax and Have Fun
At the end of the day, the most important things is to have fun with your family. Nothing ever goes perfectly when traveling, especially with young kids. You can either get upset and worked up about it, or you can learn to let it go and enjoy your trip! Take pictures, laugh and make lots of memories:)
Tip #7- Prep for your Return Home
When you get home from a trip there is usually so much to do, not to mention everyone is usually more tired than when they left. I try to do as much as I can before I get home if possible. This means washing a load of laundry if I can, planning out meals and a grocery list for the upcoming week, and ordering my groceries (we use Walmart pickup). I schedule the pickup for the afternoon/night we get home so I can start the week with a stocked pantry and fridge. When we are visiting family I always take advantage of the many leftovers they want to send home with us so I don’t have to cook and we don’t have to pick up food on the way home!
From prepping for a trip to returning home, trips are usually lots of work. Next time you take a road trip with little kids, try out some of these tip to see if it helps your trip go a little smoother.