Road trips sound amazing. Isn’t it the dream to hit the road with your friends or special person and just see it all? Well the reality isn’t always as glamorous as our minds make it. The truth of it is that the majority of road trips can be pretty boring. You’re stuck in a car for hours on end and if the outside scenery isn’t captivating then you’d better be prepared with something inside the car. That’s even without adding kids to the mix.
I’ll be honest, I was dreading last week’s road trip as much as I was excited for it. Our last road trip ended with an upset baby who would scream and cry every time I put her in her car seat for about two months after we got home. I really did not want a repeat of that. Thankfully this trip was a thousand times better and I have a few ideas on why.
#1 Comfortable Seating
So I was going to name this one ‘comfortable car seats’ but then I realized that this applies for everybody. This road trip, Isbe had a bigger car seat than last time and there’s more padding. Interestingly enough, Ade’s car seat is the one we bought just before going on our first road trip with him, big and comfortable, and he was almost an absolute angel on that trip despite being so young. So if you have kids that need to be in a car seat or booster, make sure it’s a comfortable one. Both the kids now have car seats that will grow with them, so they’re a bit roomier and cushiony. As for the hubby and I, we were stuck either driving or in the passenger seat. If that’s you, then make sure you give yourself enough room in the floorboard to stretch out a bit. It doesn’t bother me much to have bags and things in my floorboard if I’m sitting passenger since I’m so small, but those bags crowd him so it’s best just to clear the space. I know driving is more restrictive, but I have to be able to take my shoes off to stretch my feet. Otherwise I just can’t get comfortable.
#2 Ditch the Pack ‘n’ Play
You read that correctly. We’ve always used the pack ‘n’ play as a bed and the amount of sleep we got because of it was not much at all. Because pack ‘n’ plays are not really supposed to be used for that purpose, the pad it comes with is not very thick. You can buy a foldable mattress to go with it, but for the price of a good one it’s almost ridiculous. Instead we found a toddler size travel mattress and I don’t know why we didn’t buy one before. While researching, it looked like we would have to settle for an air mattress for Isbe but I wasn’t satisfied with that. I didn’t think she would sleep well with the grooves. I finally found a portable toddler travel mat. Not only was it soft and comfortable, the one we bought could be closed up and used as a suitcase. It cost about as much as one pack ‘n’ play mattress, but was more useable than one. It was easy to fold it out either between hotel beds or between my bed and the wall. The best part is that Isbe and I weren’t up multiple times a night every night. In fact, most of the time she either only woke up once or slept through the entire night. That is something that has never happened while away from home.
Snacks. Snacks. Snacks. I feel like this one is a given, but I’m gonna put it on here anyway. Make sure to stock up on your favorite snacks. The kids love gummies so I think we brought four boxes of them on the trip. By the time we were home again, we were down to four packets. The same was for chips and my two packs of sour gummy worms. Thankfully the kids love water so we would buy giant bottles for refills. Stocking up on snacks beforehand will save you time since you’re not stopping every time you run out.
When it comes to entertainment, the kids have their own bag and hubby and I have ours. When we fill the kids’ bag, we first put all the chosen toys on the bed and take a picture of them so we know which ones we’re taking. We do take the tablet, but that’s only for hotel rooms if needed (usually for Ade when he needs to be quiet while I put Isbe to sleep). We also have the DS for on the road, but that keeps either us or Ade occupied. My choice of entertainment is always reading, but the hubby prefers podcasts while driving. I like podcasts, but when I’m in the car my choice is always music so the fact that I actually listened to them was a surprise to me. When you’re on the road, don’t be afraid to try something new. Try reading a book (you’ll have plenty of time), listen to a podcast or even listen to an audio book, try new listening to new music. You never know what you’ll come away liking.
#5 Share Responsibilities
This goes beyond switching off drivers. Obviously when you have kids, whoever is in the passenger seat is going to be the primary caretaker. However, whenever we stopped and I got Isbe out to change her diaper, she screamed for Daddy. Not even joking. The first time this happened, everything was fine until I tried to put her on the changing table. She lost the plot. Nothing I could say or do would calm her down. I finally gave up and took her back to the car so he could change her diaper while I went to the bathroom. From then on out, she was changed in the car, whether I did it while waiting for the boys to get back or if hubby did it while I went in.
#6 Rest Between Hauls
We spent a total of four days on the road, two there and two back. Each day we would drive between 7 and 9 hours. We’ve figured out that anything beyond that just makes the kids completely bonkers. Once we reached the Disney Resort where we were staying, we used the car twice, maybe three times. All other traveling was done via bus. On our last road trip, we spent so much time in the car, even after we reached our destination, that I don’t blame Isbe for the freak out that she had afterwards. I didn’t want to be in the car after all that driving and I love driving. Every family has a sweet spot timeline for traveling. Find the one for yours and stick with it. It might make a trip longer, but it will definitely be worth it. If you’re one to plan your stops along the road, plan a short one at a rest stop. Get out, stretch your legs, go to the bathroom, and let the kids run around for a few minutes.
#7 Don’t Miss the Scenery
I hate to say it but there’s one route we’ve taken to Indiana that all there is to see is Hay and Corn. For hours. We try not to take that route anymore even if it’s the shortest. Last week we decided to take a smallish detour through New Orleans just because we wanted to see it. We also came upon a NASA station, a Military Memorial, and the views from the bridges were breathtaking as we drove over them. I’m a flyer, but we would’ve missed all these things had we flown. So while driving can be boring, it can be breathtaking and wonderful too. Don’t miss it by only focusing on your destination.
So there you go. That’s how we survived last week’s road trip. Yes we were ready to be home at the end of it and yes, my derriere hurt from all the sitting, but it was fun and I am willing to make the trip again. How about you? Have you gone on a road trip? How did you survive it? What was your favorite part? Is there a road trip in your future? I’d love to know your answers!