this past year my 2 kids (my son just turned 6 and my daughter is almost 4) & i have traveled. a lot. up & down the coast. to beaches. to the desert. to the mountains. on adventures of many kinds. traveling thousands of miles by car… and enjoying about 95% of our time together! not bad, right?!
i drive a small 4-door sedan. i purchased my car, Lily, several months before my oldest was born and i love that she still fits our needs! we don’t have a lot of space to store our travel gear so all of the items on my list are well thought out and truly intentional! trust me!
here is my list of 10 must have’s before traveling by car with young kids…
- bathing suits & towels for all. you never know when you will choose a hotel with a pool or find a nice beach on your way to the final destination. being prepared to swim means worn out kids & long naps in the car.
- crayon rolls, pads of paper & color books.
- cooler/freezer packs. i love grabbing a package of pepperoni, grapes, cheese, crackers & carrots for our first meal in the car. having a cooler & freezable packs makes traveling less expensive by shopping for good versus restaurant-eating at every meal.
- handvac. i’m a huge fan of the Sharp HandVac… especially in the car for spills, dumps & more. while traveling it’s nearly impossible to not let you kids eat in the car… so, i come prepared for everything with a HandVac that can be charged quickly and used for hours!
- flashlights. these are useful & fun. i find them useful when we’re all staying in a single hotel room and i’m awake far beyond the children… of course, looking for something or trying to walk around the room without nailing my shins on a piece of furniture. it’s also just plain fun to draw the blinds and turn off the lights & have a light show with the kids!
- sense of humor. don’t leave home without it. without humor… a lot of humor… it’s easy to take a simple trip and turn it upside down. laugh often. tell knock-knock jokes and be ready to chuckle at the silly stage your kids will likely enter while traveling!
- buckets. grab a few empty buckets for collecting special finds. you can scavenger the beach, a hiking trail, gardens of flowers! 🙂 yes, we do this! the buckets are a great way to also show the children what we can be taken and what needs to be left. if it doesn’t fit, it stays behind!
- pre-packaged juice pouches, snack packs & fruit. i know this seems obvious… but having plenty of these in stock ensures quick bathroom breaks and snacks/drinks awaiting once you return to the car. plus, my children don’t get these things often — so, it truly is a special treat!
- kindles/iPads/DVD player. ah yes. aren’t these little gems lovely? it’s easy to take advantage of them since they offer a quiet ride for awhile… BUT, your kids will likely go nuts if you let them go too long. i use these as a part of a play/eat/sleep rotation in the car. i have built in 20 minutes of screen time, 40 minutes of playing or drawing, a small snack every 2 hours and plenty of rest as needed.
- bags of fun & extra bags. each trip is fun to prep for. i give each kid a few small ziploc bags and they get to fill each one with special toys. my son loves filling his with small dinosaurs, cars & legos while my daughter fills hers with fairies, dress up jewelry and princesses. the bags are placed inside their book bags and kept under their feet. it gives them quick access to their favorite things and when done, they place them back in the bags.
what don’t you leave home without?
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