S P R I N G B R E A K 2 0 1 9
This was our very first trip as a family of 5, instead of a family of 3. When our oldest was little, we took him literally all over the country. At 4 years old, he’s been to more states than some of his adult family members. From the Deep South to the west coast. In fact, we have celebrated his birthday in a different state every single year. Not many kids can say that.
So when the twins were born last August, we knew that 1. We’d already caught the travel bug, and we have no intentions of curing it. And 2. The realistic truth of living away from family is that if we want our kids to have a relationship with their cousins, we needed to make the effort to get them to see them.
It just so happened that in March 2019, our kids had two brand new cousins join the ranks. The problem was, one new baby cousin was in Indiana, one new baby cousin was in South Carolina, and we live in Oklahoma.
Did I mention we also have a dog? Yup, Marshall the WonderMutt!
So two adult, a 4 year old, two 7-month infants, a dog, and 3,000 miles. So many people would use this as an excuse to say “forget it!” But family is incredibly important to us. And let’s face it, I wanted to snuggle some brand new babies. Plus, there are several great grandparents, and a few aunts and uncles who also wanted to meet our “not-so-new” twins.
Call us crazy, but we loaded down Carie the Caravan, and set out on a 2 week journey. First up to Indiana, then down to South Caroline, before heading back home to Oklahoma.
If you’re about to head out on a similar adventure, or maybe just a simple family vacation, these are my tips for making the trip enjoyable for all parties involved!
Consider Traveling at Night
Y’all, I am NOT a night owl. I’d much rather be up at 5a and start the day rather than stay up until midnight. But when it comes to traveling with kids, if you are the type of person who hates to stop, consider night time traveling. The kids all sleep, and you can just book it straight through.
Of course, be smart about it. We had to stop 30 minutes out side of my in-laws home because my husband needed to walk around for a minute. Racing the clock is not as important as keeping your family safe.
Make Your Kids Comfortable
Listen, car seats stink. Other than being life-saving, vital parts of early childhood, they stink. Before this trip, our twins were right on the verge of outgrowing their infant car seats. They still fit, but they weren’t going to for much longer. Instead of forcing them to tough it out because “kids are resilient,” we went ahead and upgraded them to transitional car seats. Something that would be more comfortable for them for the trip.
I also invested in this neat seatbelt pillow for our 4 year old, since we would be traveling at night, I knew he wouldn’t sleep well, with his little head bobbing up and down, back and forth.
When your kids are comfortable, they are happier. When they are happier, you are happier.
Organize Your Car Before Ever Pulling Out of the Driveway
This is an important one, when traveling with kids. You need to know where the snacks, are just as much as you need to where the wipes are.
For this trip, I ordered an organizer from amazon that goes on the back of the seat, and stuffed it specifically for crying babies. We are talking, extra pacifiers, teething crackers, snack puffs, and little handheld toys.
It’s all things I can reach around, grab immediately, and hand to the crying baby.
It also contains, diapers, wipes, butt cream, and a change of clothes for each infant, so when we stop, I don’t have to worry about digging out a diaper bag, I can grab what I need from that organizer, and go.
If Day Traveling: Be Strategic About Stops, i.e. find a Chick-fil-A
Our family loves Chick-fil-A anyways, but especially when traveling. Mainly because they are pretty much the only restaurant left that still has a place for kids to go play.
When we stop, my four year old goes straight for the play area, my husband orders food while holding one twin, I change the other twin, then we switch babies. Husband eats his food, I eat my food (4 year old is STILL playing). We feed babies food. Husband uses the restroom, I nurse one baby. Husband gets 4 year old from play area to use the restroom. I nurse second baby. Husband take dog for a walk. I use the restroom. We go get gas. We get back on the road. 4 year old eats in the car.
Boom – an hour and a half later – Stop done.
Yes, it’s a lot.. but that kinda leads to tip number 3.
Do Not Try To Make “Good Time” When Traveling with Kids
Just throw it out the window. Because no matter how you spin it, kids will be kids. They get cranky, and hungry, and tired, and thirsty, all before you’ve been on the road one hour.
By trying to make good time when you have little kids will just wind everyone up, make everyone anxious, (including the dog!) and ultimately lead to crying children and annoyed parents.
You Do Not HAVE to resort to Excessive Screen Time
One thing I love about my four year old, is listening to his imagination in the back seat. Have things at the ready for them to entertain themselves. Some ideas include:
- Action figures/Dolls
- Coloring books
- Printable Travel Games (Thank you, Pinterest!)
Also consider games and activities to do together.
- Disney/Show Tunes playlists
- Licenses plate game
- “Would you Rather” questions
Screen Time is Not the End of The World
You’re allowed to put on a movie for your kids. Seriously. Sometimes, when you’ve been in the car already for 8 hours, you’ve gone through every “would you rather question,” you’ve done 12 madlibs, your kids have napped their little hearts out, you know Bridget’s rap from Trolls by heart (🙋🏼♀️), it’s okay to give your kids headphones and let them watch a movie so you can have 2 hours of peace. Your not a bad mom, and you won’t ruin your kids brain with one movie. Give yourself a break.
All-in-all, traveling with kids does take extra effort, but if you’re willing to put in that effort, you open up the world to your children, and, if you ask me, that is worth it!