As a veteran road tripper with kids, Renee of Renee’s Kitchen is sharing her tips for a successful road trip right before many of you hit the road to visit family for the July 4th weekend. In my own experience as a mom of 5 kids, our most successful trips involved my planning ahead and making a list and checking it twice, along with organizing my car for any emergency.
Traveling with kids can be tricky, daunting and challenging. But it doesn’t need to be that way.
I have always traveled with my kids and I love it. I like exploring. I like seeing new things and meeting new people. Fortunately I’m a planner. Traveling with kids is easier with a plan. Let me reword that–Stress free traveling REQUIRES a plan.
The rules! We only eat at a break–I don’t allow random snacking in the car (or my house). We only drink water on the road.
Things we do eat on the road
- baby carrots
- sliced cucumbers
- sliced apples
- hot dog bun sandwiches (no crust!)
- cheese and crackers
- loaf of bread
- jar of peanut butter
- chocolate (for my husband)
- Healthy Kid Snack Recipes
As a general rule we don’t eat much processed foods. I have found that when we travel if I can keep everyone’s diet on the raw side and vegan–things go more smoothly. Once we get to our destination, the kids ,have a bigger “meal”. In my experience, when we stop for a big lunch, everyone just feels cranky with a big gut bomb of food.
Things that I don’t allow
- suckers (a personal pet peeve!)
- nothing small, nothing mushy, nothing sticky and nothing that can drip!
I also pack cloth napkins so we have less waste.
The last few years I’ve not taken a “new” trip. My husband only travels with us for 1, two-week trip and our pilgrimage home at Thanksgiving. All other travel is just me and 4 kids!
It’s not really that hard–remember I grew into the role, one kid at a time. These tips are what I have learned along the way.
- I plan my breaks very carefully. Along my travels I have kept a notebook of nicer places to stop. I know which Welcome Centers are great and which ones aren’t. I get completely grossed out by the “play lands” so I avoid them–and they are usually associated with fast food places which we chose not to eat fast food.
- We have a favorite Panera in Michigan–the last stop for a LONG time–it has a nice grassy area that the kids run around and shake out their willies.
- I also have different breaks for different reasons–a bathroom break, a gas break or a break for food. I wouldn’t do all of these on the same break, it would just be too long. I like to stop every 2 1/2 or 3 hours to get out and move around.
I like talking to my kids in the car. So I have a no electronic rule for most of the trip. When we travel for 7 hours–I’ll let them watch a movie or have their iPod. On most trips, we play the “I’m thinking of an animal.” or they read and just talk. It warms my heart to hear them talk to each other, ask questions, and show respect and love.
Planning for Disaster
I always travel with a bucket, towels, and a gallon jug of water. I can’t tell you how many times I have used this combination of tools! I’ll spare you the really disgusting details and just share the less traumatizing uses for a bucket, water and towels.
My daughter had a tooth come out and it was . . . a lot of blood. I was glad that I had clean water and towels so we could fix the problem right away vs. stopping and finding a place that had water!
My other daughter was car sick–which is always is so she has her own special bucket–with a lid! But the lid wasn’t on tight enough and those towels and water came in handy to clean the floor of the car!
Traffic Jam Pee break! Sometimes you just gotta go! And it always seems like as soon as a kid says “Mom, I need to pee!” We then find ourselves stuck in a traffic jam. The bucket with the lid comes in hand here too! (and now everyone makes sure the lid is secure.)
Traveling requires flexibility, planning, and a desire to create memories along the journey. When we let go of some of our expectations, amazing things can happen.
- Frugal Museum Memberships
- Earth Day: How to Pack a “Green” Lunch for a Day Trip
- Kid Travel Kits
- Organizing Your Car for Emergencies
- Grab and Go Picnics for the Car
- Healthy Kid Snack Recipes
Philadelphia Area Day Trips for Summertime
- Philadelphia-Area Day Trips for Families: Day One
- Philadelphia-Area Day Trips for Families: Day Two
- Philadelphia-Area Day Trips for Families: Day Three
- Philadelphia-Area Day Trips for Families: Day Four
- Philadelphia-Area Day Trips for Families: Day Five
- Philadelphia-Area Day Trips for Families: Day Six – New Jersey!
- Philadelphia Park System