Tips and Tricks for Traveling with Children

Family Fun

Well. I did it. I drove 1300 miles in two days.

Which doesn’t seem like a big deal, until I tell you that I did it with a three-year-old, an eighteen-month-old and a nursing three-month-old… by myself! Yay for new experiences!

I decided a couple months back that I would gather up my crew and drive from Denver, CO to Traverse City, MI to spend a week visiting our friends. My husband would fly in for the weekend and drive back with the whole family. I thought, “Hey, it’s only 1300 miles and I only have to drive solo one way. I can do that! I love a good road trip!”

I declare myself certifiably insane, but this idea seemed doable, the best way to squeeze in a vacation of sorts and a fun challenge. And it was! Driving all those miles with three babies was fun and a wee bit crazy (which is generally how I live life anyway). But here’s the shocker…

I would do it again! Family travel is wild, y’all.

Some of my favorite memories growing up involve being in the car for hours on end during a day of travel. I want that for my kids.

Anyway, if you are thinking about traveling with babies this summer, do it! Get brave and make some memories. Good or bad, they won’t be forgotten. And you don’t even have to go to Disney World to delight kiddos! A midwest road trip if full of adventure. There is some planning involved, but if you start thinking and prepping yourself NOW, you could have an excellent (and exhausting) trip, too!

Here are some very practical tips and tricks for a family trip to remember…

  1. Expect a freak show. Anything less is a gift. Give yourself extra time because you’re gonna need it, mama! Young kids can be unpredictable and that keeps life exciting, am I right?!

  2. A snack box. Keep it on the front seat. Make sure it can hold all snack and drink items. Arms length bribery tools are a must. Fill it with new things they’ve never seen before. It will be endlessly fascinating. Even older children love a finely curated snack box.

  3. A good throwing arm. To throw said snacks. It’s a good thing we’re dealing with small spaces here.

  4. Trash bin. It’s literally the best thing. A tidy way to collect the production line diaper change remnants and it’s easier to dump at the rest stop.

  5. Porta. Potty. This may only work if you have a van, but it was handy for me because the idea of loading and unloading kids into the nasty bathroom was not happening. I put a diaper in the bottom to absorb and a drop of purification essential oil. I’m from Michigan…no shame. Oh, and don’t forget to have a change of clothes handy for each kiddo. You just never know!

  6. Movies. This is no time to fast from television. 24 hours in the car over two days…let’s be reasonable here. Borrow anything from anyone, but make this happen.

  7. Get a nice hotel room. Decide on a good place before you leave home. This is not the time to be frugal and find the cheapest place on kayak. You are going to be traveling alone with precious cargo, so splurge in a place that has a lot of people in a safe area. That one hotel in the middle of Nebraska near a truck stop for $45/night isn’t a good option.

  8. Never leave the littles unattended. Which gets tricky when you have to check in at the hotel, stop for gas, use the bathroom, etc etc. Get creative and find ways that work for you! For instance, when checking into the hotel I found a cart for all our overnight items at the lobby door. I loaded all my items and left it in the entry way, parked the car and put everyone in the stroller to check in. You can replace stuff. People? Not so much. There’s a good chance, the desk clerk or other employees will kindly help you in with your little kids and all of your stuff.

  9. Play music from your glory days. Let your kids get an idea of who you were before they came along. We had a lot of N’Sync, TLC, and 90’s one-hit-wonders going. It roused up memories for myself and the kids seeing me have fun made them feel happy. Don’t forget to turn it off when you miss the glory days too hard. 😉

  10. Make the car smell special. This one is fun, and can make a memory last a life time. Certain smells trigger memories that otherwise may have been forgotten! Since I am an oiler, I had lemon oil, lime oil, lavender oil going at all times. Just put some on a cotton ball and shoved it in the vent. I hope that every trip will be remembered when they take a whiff of those smells in the future. Make your car the ultimate comfort zone.

  11. Don’t bribe littles with future treats.You might think it sounds like a good idea, but hold up.  My kids range from 0-3 years old. They are small children. They live in the moment. If you tell them that you have chocolate milk for them at the rest stop ahead, all they hear is, “I can have chocolate milk right now!”. Save yourself a lot of drama. You’re welcome.

  12. Oh, and plastic bags. All sorts. You will need them to collect odds and ends and you won’t be sorry!

It feels good to be home, folks!

Where are you traveling to next? What fun things do you have planned with your family?

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I'm Leslie Burris

Wife, Mother, Educator, Dreamer, and Encourager who's 

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