I’ve posted this a few times in the past, and it always seems to be a popular post. If you are planning on traveling this Independence Day, I hope this is of help to you. If you have any additional tips to share, please add them to the comments section so that all might benefit.
The following tips are those which I’ve learned through travel with young children and tips that friends have shared with me.
Must haves for the trip
- Wet wipes!!! Lots of wet wipes!
- Garbage bags or plastic grocery store bags. These can be used for everything from soiled clothes to actual trash.
- Hand sanitizer—you never know when you’ll need it.
- Tissues or handkerchiefs
- Snacks for all travelers
- Small toys or handheld games to keep the children entertained. A few weeks before the trip take some of your child’s toys and put them in a closet. These toys will seem fresh and interesting when brought out mid-trip. A friend of mine likes to wrap small toys for her child to open at various intervals during travel.
- Extra clothes in the event of spills or potty accidents
- Emergency Car Kit—go to this site for details for what to include
Making travel a bit easier
- Plan travel around times where the children might be napping or down for the night.
- If leaving very early in the morning, dress children in comfortable day clothes that previous night. All you have to do is scoop them up and strap them in. When you make your first big stop, they can change clothes and freshen up if desired.
- Slip on shoes—easy on, easy off
- For toddler aged girls, dresses bunch and can become uncomfortable due to the straps of car seats. Choose comfortable pants instead.
- Dress kids in clothes that make easy access for bathroom breaks. Don’t risk them struggling with overall buckles when they really have to go to the potty.
- If you are potty training, bring a little potty with you. Store the potty in a garbage bag.
- Anticipate bathroom breaks. Stop every few hours to let kids stretch.
- Look ahead at your route to check for traffic problems or construction.
Travel Activities for children
- “I Spy”
- Travel Bingo—these games are sold at many travel centers and at Cracker Barrel stores
- The ABC game—either play with individuals or in a team. Look for words that begin with each letter of the alphabet. The first person to get to Z wins. Since the letter X is the hardest, we always played it where words that begin with “ex” were all right.
- The license plate game—the person who finds the most license plates from different states by the end of the trip wins
- Mad Libs and other activity books
- Coloring books and crayons
- Sticker books
- Magna Doodle
- Audio Books for the whole family—you can check these out of the library or can rent them at Cracker Barrel stores for a small fee.
- Music—bring a wide variety of music. If you have older children, they can bring their own headphones.
- DVDs—while I’m not completely bought on the idea of kids watching television in cars, I understand that these can be very helpful.
- Bring a map and ask kids to help you mark the route. This helps to distract away from the incessant, “Are we there yet?”
- Let kids bring a scrapbook. We traveled lots as children, and each night of the trip we would fill our scrapbooks with the various postcards and souvenirs from the day of travel.
- Let them use their own camera. There are cameras made for children of all ages now.
Handling Motion Sickness
- Bring Ginger drops or prepared ginger tea to sip on during the trip.
- Encourage kids to fall asleep or close their eyes if possible. Planning your trip around times they will be napping or asleep for the night can be helpful for a multitude of reasons.
- Try pressure point strips to see if that is helpful. These were always helpful for me, but others say that they do little to help.
- Make sure they are not reading during travel, as this makes the problem worse.
- Distract them and encourage them to look ahead on the road.
Healthy Travel Snacks
- Carrot sticks, cucumbers, and other vegetable slices
- Crackers—rice crackers make less of a mess than wheat crackers
- Choose sliced apples. Bananas, oranges, and berries make a mess.
- Sliced or cubed cheese
- Rolled lunchmeat
- Sandwiches—make them as easy to eat as possible. We wrap ours in waxed paper.
- Gum and mints can help with ear pain related to elevation changes.
- Bring out the new and different snacks to make things more interesting. My cousin packed some ready to eat edemame that made our trip back from Savannah a big hit.