We've traveled quite a bit this summer and it looks like we'll be traveling plenty this fall and winter with the holidays! It seems there's always another road trip to look forward to with our children and we've found a few things that have worked amazingly well to keep everyone happy when we go. Pinterest is an amazing resource for fun travel ideas with kids and certainly helped me add to this list. Here are 12 tips for traveling with kids, in no particular order:
1. Cover Your Seats
Find an old sheet and cover your seats! It saves them in the long run AND in the short run. It is so much easier to pick up a sheet, shake it off and move on after a spill than it is to fully vacuum your seats. Sheets can keep sweaty legs from sticking to leather, goldfish from diving all the way into the cushions and other more unpleasant spills contained. Just be sure to cut our holes for seatbelts! Seat covers like these are amazing too at helping protect your seats from those long car rides.
2. Buy Headphones
For everyone. You will thank me. Instead of listening to Moana for the millionth time (without even getting to watch it!) get your kids headphones. It means you can talk privately for hours or listen to your own music and audiobooks in the car! Since our car doesn't have it's own entertainment system we actually have our children watch movies on the tablet and use a splitter for the headphones, meaning we can talk uninterrupted. It's the best. And be sure to get them over the ear headphones-earbuds tend to be less user friendly and more dangerous for little ears. Try these for something fun and effective.
3. Netflix offers downloads now!
Going along with using tablets, Netflix has begun offering downloadable content for those long drives to people who's car's do not have their own wifi. This also means using less or no data while you drive-a huge perk! You can find more information at netflix.com.
I love audiobooks. I never thought I would but now that I have an entire library on my phone I just love being able to plug in anywhere and enjoy a book! Since our children have their own entertainment and headphones to go along with it, my husband and I listen to audiobooks when we drive to fill the lulls in conversation (we've been married 12 years, we literally know everything about each other at this point and can catch up in 2 hours leaving endless hours of driving to fill). If you need a book suggestion, check out Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan. You'll thank me.
5. XM Radio
I had no idea what I was missing out on by not taking advantage of XM radio. If you know you'll be travelling in the car quite a bit this summer, XM radio is definitely something to consider. In all of our adventures all over these united states we never once lost service and it is so nice to always have music available. We often find ourselves picking a genre for every city we're in and loving listening to old music from high school! There's even stations with stand-up comedy and sports if you're sick of music.
6. Emesis Bags
I stashed these in my dashboard during my pregnancy and now I'm so grateful to have a few extra still in there! Emesis bags are made to efficiently contain vomit and are great insurance for long trips and possible car-sickness. In a flash you can grab one and hand it to a car-sick kid and after twist it up (containing all contents and smells) and throw it away at your next stop. Life saver.
One of my biggest pet peeves about traveling is never having enough water. I feel like we're constantly buying water bottles from convenience stores that cost way too much, or taking up half of our trunk with a cooler full of water bottles and still burning through them leaving my car full of empty water bottles. Buying everyone their own re-usable tumbler has been the solution! You can fill them to the top with ice and water at most gas stations for free and if your water gets warm or you run out, just stop and fill it up again! This has saved us so much money and the planet too.
Or washable dry erase markers. If you're looking for something outside of electronics, drawing on the windows is a great way to pass the time. You can outline your surroundings or keep track of games!
9. Print a few Road Trip Games
I don't like having a lot of clutter in the car, but these two games are perfect and could be laminated and played over and over again as you travel!
Here you can find this adorable: RoadTrip Scavenger Hunt Printable.
10. Eat at Chick'Fil'A
Or other places with a playplace! A few of the gas stations on this side of the country have started installing playgrounds and it is the best! Getting our kids out to play for a minute is always a good idea, and even if it adds an hour to our trip I never regret stopping for a minute to stretch our legs.
11. Consider your Accommodations
Find hotels with breakfast, pools, and shuttles to where you're going. We recently went to Lake Las Vegas with our children and I was delighted at how family friendly it was! I had been looking at the usual places we stay there and realized just how much they don't love children at casinos. When we go to Disneyland I'm always so grateful for a shuttle to the park instead of worrying about/paying for parking. And be sure to see if you can stay at a hotel slightly outside of town to avoid traffic and parking fees!
12. Bring Wipes
My last and final and probably most important tip is to bring wipes. We've saved ourselves so much heartache by always packing wipes when we travel. Even when it's just adults or kids out of diapers they never fail to come in handy. Always carry a pack of wipes.
What are your Travel Essentials with Kids??
See more at TodaysMama.com!