First and foremost: WE MADE IT! Yep. We all survived our 8+ hour drive to Virginia.
For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, my in-laws live outside of Washington, D.C. and we typically travel to visit once or twice a year, depending on our holiday travel schedule.
Last year we didn’t make the trip because Lily was born smack-dab in the middle of the year. So, it’s been a long time coming that we load-up our crew and make the drive out east.
Was I nervous? Anxious? Stressed? You bet. Was Ted? Nope. But instead of telling me I was crazy or saying, “you have nothing to worry about,” he calmly told me, “I know this is a lot. Thanks for doing all of this.”
OK. Let me preface and say that I did WARN HIM that he better not tell me that driving with three kids longer than 3+ hours isn’t a lot to handle.
I’m a plane traveler by heart, so hours in the car is a lot for me. But I’m learning [and so is he] when you marry someone, you both compromise on things other than religion, money, and family. You learn to work together on travel too!
Without being too wordy [we are on vacation and I’m trying to spend less time online], I thought I’d chime in for a few notes as to what has made taking a road trip with toddlers that much easier!
Wait for it… wait for it… HERE GOES NOTHING. Or everything. Depending on how you look at it.
Leave early. I know this tip isn’t for everyone. But we knew we had about 8-9 hours driving with 3 little ones, juggling 2 different nap times. So leaving at 4 am worked for us because:
a. I’m a morning person and could drive the first 3 hours and
b. I wanted the kids to sleep a few hours of the trip in addition to their naps around lunchtime.
This tip sort of backfired, because everyone was up for the first hour early morning. But the rest of the trip went so smoothly, with sleep + movie time + another nap for Ms. Lil.
Pack snacks, and a garbage bag. One thing I’ve learned about doing car travel is always having a large garbage bag on hand to throw napkins, empty pouches, wrappers, etc. into. Being the neat freak I am, it’s important I keep the car clean on our trip. And a big garbage bag helps with that!
Speaking of packing… have a separate bag for all. the. things.
That means a separate bag for electronics, toys, food, diapers, you name it. This helped me stay organized at rest stops when we had to change diapers or grab another snack-pack of Goldfish! Call me an over-packer [as evidenced by the full trunk of bags], but if you have the room in your car, van, or truck, I suggest you keep things organized this way!
Pack a lovey OR favorite blankie. This helped with the napping and keeping the kids calm or relaxed before naps! My kids are all obsessed with a certain stuffed animal [to each their own].
Thanks to Joey naming his, “sheepy,” we have 2 sheepy’s [one for Joey and Anthony] and Lily’s, “baby.” Joey’s stuffed animal is a sheep, Anthony’s is a kangaroo blankie, and Lily’s is a rabbit blankie. Are you as confused as I am? I hope so… Just look through these pictures and you’ll notice Anthony’s sheepy is always in his mouth!
Stay positive. I mentioned above I’m not the best car traveler. But with 3 small children and a comfy minivan, I know car travel is the way we are getting out and about these days.
Especially when it comes to road trips or extended travel. So I’m making sure the kids aren’t the only ones happy with the iPad and their favorite snacks. Mom has a few podcasts downloaded, some of her favorite bars and treats, and of course coffee.
I guess there’s not solid advice here. Or something that’s earth-shattering. Just remember the snacks. And the garbage bag. And I think you’ll have yourself a decent road trip with toddlers.
Stay tuned… I’ll be sharing a few more of our favorite highlights from our family trip to Virginia!