Vacation season is upon us, which is sending moms everywhere to hide in corners as anxiety creeps in at the thought of traveling with little ones. Oh, is that just me? I LOVE vacation but the thought of getting there is panic inducing!
What if the kids scream the whole way? What if we forget something important? What if they don’t sleep when we get there?
The struggle is real, folks.
Since adding our second son to the mix, we have made a handful of trips to destinations further away than the local grocery store (which is sometimes a hassle to get to in and of itself.) We’ve learned a few tips and tricks along the way that I want to pass on to you, fellow fearful traveling momma.
Tips For Traveling With Your Kids
1. The only plan you should have is having no plan: This is the most important tip of all. You will just be disappointed when things don’t happen the way you imagined. So go into your travels with an idea of how you would like things to go but nothing set in stone. With kids, there is no such thing as set in stone!
2. Throw the rules out the window (but not literally…it’s like a $500 littering fine): Let loose! Have fun! Those should be the only rules of vacation, am I right? I mean, when I go on vacation my one rule is that I eat dessert with every dinner. It’s one week out of the year when you can go crazy (and by crazy I mean staying up til 10 watching a Real Housewives marathon because the condo you are staying in has this luxury called cable.) So relax. Have ice cream for dinner, let the kids stay up past bedtime…just enjoy yourself and make memories. You can return to your role as Super Mom when you return home.
3. Find stops on your route: We traveled to Atlanta when my boys were 3 and 8 months and I knew it was not going to be fun. To try and take some terribleness out of the drive, I Googled parks along our route. Like every 30 min on our route I had directions to a park. I figured I probably did all that work for nothing (see tip number 1) but we did actually end up using this list and it was so beneficial. Having an exit strategy that didn’t involve a sketchy gas station is one of the wisest things I did on that trip.
4. Use your boobs: Some women use their boobs to get out of traffic tickets…and some use them to quiet a screaming baby in the car. If you are breastfeeding, these can be a life saver when on the road (given that you aren’t the one driving.) I spent many minutes bent over my son feeding him so that he would calm down. Did people drive by wondering why I was doing what looked like handstands in the back of the van half naked? Sure. But my baby wasn’t screaming, so, winning.
5. Pack snacks,lots of them: Food is probably the most important aspect of a successful road trip for our family. As long as my boys have food in their hands and mouths, they are somewhat content. I just keep a steady stream of it coming. My role in the passenger seat is to dole out snacks to grabby little hands. I pack a wide variety and usually treats they aren’t allowed to have at home so that it seems extra special when they get to eat them. And moms, don’t forget to pack snacks for yourself…you deserve a treat too!
6. Put together a bag of activities: My boys get a lot of gifts throughout the year, so when they get something that would be good for the car, I take it and hide it until we have a road trip. They never know and it becomes this special toy they get to play with only in the car. I also stock up on little things from the Dollar Tree that will entertain them for at least a good 5 minutes (setting realistic goals here.)
There may be lots of tears on the trip (from you and the kids) but when you get to your destination, it will all be worth it. Don’t let the fear of traveling with toddlers who hate being confined to their car seats keep you from creating some wonderful memories with your family! As a new mom, I was guilty of this a lot. Now I realize that it will all be alright…and even it if is a terrible experience, it will make a great blog post and that pretty much makes it worth it, right?!
I would love to hear any additional tips for our next trip and to share with additional readers. Comment below!