I have spent many hours traveling on the road as a kid myself, an adult, and as a mother from newborn up to my oldest now being 13! In middle school, we lived about 3 hours from my dad which meant every other weekend was spent going back and forth. All that distance is how I got all my driving permit hours, back and forth in my dad’s stick shift truck. And did I mention before I was a pack rat??? This of course started back as a teen going to my dad’s so far away and wanting to have as much of my stuff as possible.
At 21, I moved to North Carolina and that’s where my oldest daughter was born. After she was born, I drove 7 hours with a 6 day old. That was a challenge! Through the years, I have always lived a long drive away from someone I love to spend time with. I’ve also moved across states 5 times (North Carolina, Ohio, Maryland, Ohio, Michigan)! I now live in Michigan and both sets of my parents are in Ohio again along with my siblings, their families and my friends. Now I travel to Ohio about every 1-2 months sometimes more. Over the next 2 ½ months, I’ll be there every other week, usually just the girls and I go due to my husband’s work schedule.
Last weekend we celebrated my nephews high school graduation in Ohio so there I was on the road again! Of course, every trip to Ohio also means business since Krista lives near family too. It also means my trips to Ohio are very busy trying to see everyone I can. I spend a lot of my Ohio trips in the car going from place to place visiting. So, my organizations trips carry me through the whole trip.
I always try to pack snacks and drinks. These trips get pretty expensive especially as often as I go so, I try not to spend a lot in snacks or drinks along the way. I like to pack a small basket that can stay in the truck and is easy to get to. I packed snacks for the trip there and back. I also fill our water bottles so we don’t have to get drinks. Sometimes I splurge on coffee or I have a gift card to use (thanks to Fetch, seriously if you don’t have it get it! More at the end of the blog…)
My daughter is mostly potty trained but the best thing for me car rides more than 30 min long is taking a potty seat! It also is great when we are at outdoor sports games because you never know the potty situation. So I pack this travel potty, potty seat bags (these are great for lining the seat for easy clean up), water proof pads to lay underneath the potty seat just in case, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, trash can, and cleaning wipes. Most of these fit in the door for me and I always keep it there. I also love these toilet covers for going into public bathrooms, so they stay in our vehicles too.
Having all this allows me to just pull over in a safe spot and let her go without being in a dirty bathroom, it also take a lot less time.
Electronics and activities
My goal when driving a long way is to go when I know my youngest will sleep most of the way that way she isn’t bored and is rested when we get there to play. My favorite is very early morning or just after lunch but, it doesn’t always work this way. So I make sure to pack her fire tablet with games and movies downloaded that she can watch without wifi. I always make sure this is fully charged before we leave. I also make sure to have car chargers for it as well as our phones.
Something easy for her to play with as well, this is tricky because she always drops stuff and gets upset. She usually chooses a baby doll or stuffed animal and always has her play phone to pretend call her grandpas.
My oldest usually has her phone to keep her occupied but she sleeps a lot in the car or brings her coloring stuff. She loves to have a blanket and small pillow in the car too…and sweatshirt, she is always in a hoodie even outside in 90 degrees! Drives me crazy.
One major thing that is so helpful is a phone mount so I can see my directions and easily charge my phone. I prefer to have one mounted on the vent close to the steering wheel. I have had the ones that suction to the window and they always fall down.
I usually pack pretty heavy for these trips even just for weekends. I want my girls and I to have what we need to be comfortable and not impose too much on our host. The most important is to have things on hand that you need right away. Especially if you are getting in late and need a change of clothes and toiletries right away. I just pack according to my plans and often have different bags for different places.
Keep it relaxed
I have always felt a need to rush with everything, road trips are one area that I have made a big change to be more relaxed and go with the flow. Multiple stops are going to happen, its hard for me when I know we have a lot going on when we get to our destination but, I try to give myself plenty of time to account for extra stops. Rushing with kids always leads to stressful trips and everyone being on edge. So relax and try to be more go with the flow!
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