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Yikes! I can’t believe I haven’t posted my survival guide to traveling with kids yet. I seriously feel like I’ve been living in a fog since our trip. Going back to work after a week off is the worst! Also, my phone crashed the night we got back from our trip and I lost all of my photos except the few I had uploaded to Instagram and my personal Facebook page and the very few my husband took. I was heart broken. So apologies in advance for the photos and lack there of.
We made a trip up to northern Idaho during the week of July 4th which is about a 6.5 hour drive that actually took us about 8 hours each way. It was the twins’ first major road trip and I have to say, it went pretty well! I thought for sure we would be listening to screaming babies for at least a good portion of the drive, but they were actually fairly quiet overall. After a fairly successful trip, I thought I would share some of my tips to packing and traveling with kids, especially young kiddos. And I’ll also share some lessons I learned the hard way!
Movies and lots of them. Here’s the deal, I get that growing up in the dark ages, none of us had Kindles and iPads and DVD players in our cars, and we survived, but you know what? There is a reason they developed those beautiful pieces of technology, and this is it. Entertainment for kids and sanity for moms and dads. So call me crazy, but here is the run down of our set-up. Macie is forward facing, so she is able to watch the DVD system in the van (that’s right, I rock the mini-van). The twins on the other hand are rear facing, so they have a Kindle, EACH. Yep, they each have their own Kindle to watch.
But on that note, I’m going to take a moment to call out the people who design cars. Why aren’t there video players built into the car that will work for rear facing children??? In a world where kids are now supposed to stay rear facing until 2, 3, and even 4 years old, depending on who you ask, why are we still dealing with video screens that only face toward the back of the vehicle for forward facing kids? They should have a screen that flips around for rear facing babes, seriously guys, make it happen. OK, that rant is over.
So anyway, the twins each have a Kindle with various movies we’ve downloaded from Amazon. Currently, Lincoln is loving The Incredibles and Reagan has been obsessed with “Nana” also known as Moana for months; she never gets tired of it.
We always make sure to pack a small cooler for the car so we can have snacks and drinks on hand for both us and the kids. We keep the cooler right up front so the passenger can easily access it. This serves multiple purposes. We can keep the kids happy when they start to get antsy (though I don’t let the twins eat in the car at their age since I can’t see them and choking is my biggest fear!), make less pit stops for food, and save money overall by not having to buy snacks and drinks every time we do stop.
Leave early but don’t be in a hurry. Seriously. You might as well prepare yourself to make a lot of stops. We left super early in the morning in the hopes that the kids would be tired enough to fall back to sleep (though only one of them did) and we went into the trip knowing there was no way we would make it there in six hours. We knew we would have to stop often for bathroom breaks and honestly just to let the kids run around. We looked for areas with grass where we could just pull them out of the car and let them stretch, run and get some energy out.
In the end, yes, it added an extra two hours to our travel time, but we tried to look at it as an opportunity to explore along the way and just have some family time and make some memories. And when we couldn’t find a place where the kids could run free? That brings us to the next tip.
Leashes. I am fully in support of leashing my kids. OK, not a true leash, we have the cute little animal backpacks with “tails”. I know some of you are cringing and yelling at the screen, calling me a cruel mom, but I would so much rather my kids be safe and able to walk around than me having to carry them everywhere because that defeats the point or risk one of them getting away from me at the gas station or as we’re walking down the side walk. Sadly, again, I lost the cute photos I took of them walking in their backpacks. 🙁 I salvaged one photo from one place we stopped along the way, Baker City, Oregon. They had the most adorable shops and photo ops; though after getting up at 4:30am, none of my kids were feeling the cute photo op for mom.
When it comes to little ones, I say always over pack. You never know what they are going to get into, on them or let’s be real, what’s coming out of them. Thank goodness I over packed clothing and diapers because Lincoln decided since we were traveling, he was going to have “stomach issues” and about a million blow outs. Ugh, figures. I’m glad I wasn’t trying to do laundry or having to buy clothes and diapers to get through a few days. And here is where I would insert a picture of our overstuffed car but well, you know.
Going to someone’s house who doesn’t have kids? And everything is breakable and in reach? I am soooooo glad we brought our Summer Infant Pop N’ Play. It was a lifesaver. Seriously it’s the only way I retained a little of my sanity. We set it up every where we went so that when we needed a break from chasing them or telling them no every two seconds, we had a safe place to put them. Its awesome inside because its easy to set-up, compact, yet big enough for two but also great outside since it has a detachable shade cover. Another tip, when the twins were younger, we kept this set-up in our living room all the time. It was the only way we could go to the bathroom or do anything if we were alone with the kids, without fear of one of them disappearing or climbing on the tables, the couches, basically getting into everything. Come to think of it, we really should still be using it.
Now for the important things I forgot that would have made life so much easier.
Toys. Yep, we brought zero toys. We’re so used to going to my parent’s home or in-laws home where they have lots of toys for the kids that we didn’t even think about bringing them. We had to make a quick trip to Walmart so they could have some form of entertainment since we were at homes with no children and no toys. We bought some inexpensive dolls for Reagan (and Macie of course) and then a bucket of sand toys that we could just throw in the Pop N’ Play to entertain them.
High chairs. This might not be such a big deal if you only have one and can tag team, but with two kids under the age of two, feeding them was a huge challenge. I really wish we’d remembered the one travel high chair we have and we will now be investing in a second before we go anywhere again. Trying to get them to sit at a dining room table with nothing to buckle them in was not fun. And I’m pretty sure they barely ate because I swear it was like they could not focus on eating since they knew they had the ability to stand up in their chairs. We actually went out to breakfast three of the four days we were there just so we could put them in high chairs. LOL.
With the exception of a couple minor hitches (and lost photos 😩), we had an amazing time. From slip and slides to water balloon wars to fireworks to an evening at the theme park, this was a pretty awesome trip. In fact, it was really our first trip as a family of five and definitely one to remember.
But darn it, we were at Coeur d’Alene lake only a few days before Julianne Hough’s wedding. We just missed it!
Also, Silverwood Theme Park, was a blast and I highly recommend it! We spent most of our time in the water park side so not a lot of photos were taken anyway but here is one of Macie going on a little helicopter ride by herself.
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