Road trips with kids can be challenging, to say the least. But road trips with kids alone, as in no other adult to help you manage the tiny demanding humans in the back seat, can be quite the undertaking. With a husband who works a full-time day job, on top of running a farming operation, I find myself packing up the kids for a day or weekend away by myself quite often. And I’ve learned a couple of things….or six.
Start with a list.
I always write a list in advance of what to bring, and, depending on the type of trip, I either pack in the days before or grab stuff the morning of. But either way, I’d be lost without my list.
Always, always, pack a small cooler for the car.
I do a lot of hour-plus trips with my kids, and the last thing I need to be without is snacks and water for everyone (and coffee for me, please). Plus extra – for the ride home, to replace something that inevitably gets dropped or spilled, or for the also inevitable refusal of an item.
Place everything you might need within arm’s reach.
Pretty much the last thing I need to be doing is fishing through a bag to look for something while I’m driving. I put my drink in the cupholder, my phone and chapstick in the center console, and the cooler bag in the passenger seat right next to my wallet.
Have a travel potty in your car.
Even though we’re past the potty training stage for my oldest, my beloved blue potty continues to live in the car. For MANY reasons. First, if a kid has to go, sometimes they have to go NOW. Second, the last thing I want to do is take my kids into a public restroom if I don’t have to. Third, when both kids are asleep and Mom has to go…it’s travel potty for the win. It has saved me more than once, and I’m not ashamed to say it.
A lot of our trips consist of overnight stays so I’ve really upped my game in the packing department. Each kid, and myself, gets their own bag of clothes. Anything sleep-related goes into one bag – white noise machine, monitor, blankets, pillows, pajamas, etc. This system works really well for when I stay at my parents’ house and one bag can be carried upstairs to where we are sleeping. And it’s great for when someone else steps in to help because they know where to find everything. For summer trips I pack a swim bag with everything we need for sun and water fun, and in the winter I pack a bag with hats, gloves, coats, etc.
Try to stop in heavy-populated and well-lit areas.
This one has been challenging at times for me because the route to my parents doesn’t offer a lot of these options. Plus you never know when a baby will be screaming and need to nurse. But safety trumps all, and your best bet is finding a place with a bunch of people around and a lighted parking lot. If that’s not possible, I don’t get out of the car. It’s funny the things you learn to do without giving it a second thought – now I can add crawling through my vehicle as one of those things.
Of course, I still do a lot of these things when my husband is along for the trip. But I am definitely more relaxed about some of them when I know I’ve got someone else to help me. When I’m on my own, though, I want to be prepared for anything!
Do you do any of these things? Or would you add anything to this list? Let us know!