Posts Tagged ‘road trip’

Cross-Country Holiday Trip Survival Kit

Friday, November 11th, 2016

holiday road trip survival kitWhether it was in a moment of insanity or bravery, you decided that visiting family this holiday season sounded like a good idea. And after looking at your budget or logistics, you came to the conclusion that driving there would be your best option. “Who wants the hassle of kids in an airport?” you tell yourself. “This way, we can fit all the gifts in the back of the car,” you reason.

Whatever you said to convince yourself this was a good idea, write those things down, and chant them under your breath repeatedly throughout the travelling process, because chances are good your sweet children may cause you to question your life choices at some point during the journey.

Here are some cheap ways to keep their spirits jolly and whole, which is proven to reduce the risk of threats to turn this car around right now, I mean it, as well as outbursts of Santa is watching, goddammit! Keep everyone off the naughty list by incorporating a few of these tricks:

  • Stick to what you know. Now is not the time to try something new. While you may have dreamed of having your children being fully entertained by an audiobook, now is not the time to go rogue. If your kids enjoy a steady repetition of Wreck-it Ralph, rot their brains away. And if/when your parents start to tell you about how “When you were kids, we didn’t have DVD players,” politely affirm their perfect parenting choices while you swallow another Xanax.
  • Raid the dollar store. Fill a gallon sized Ziploc bag for each child full of random trinkets from the dollar store, and hand them something random each hour of the trip. Don’t limit yourself to the standard toy selection: My kids went nuts when I handed them giant calculators. Avoid toys with a lot of pieces, as they will definitely fall down the cracks of the seats immediately, and your child will scream for 37 miles about it. Also avoid objects that could double as swords.
  • Bring snacks for bribing. For every hour they go without fighting, they get a lollipop. While the kids may have a strict no-sweets policy at home, car trips are an appropriate time to deviate from the diet plan. Chocolate protein bars make good bribes as well, and have the bonus of decreasing the opportunities for low-blood-sugar-murderous-rampage.
  • Plan pit stops ahead of time. It’s worth stopping for lunch a little earlier when you see the restaurant with the play-place built in. Anticipate getting to your destination a little later to make time for getting the wiggles out. Exercise your kids ahead of time so you don’t have to exorcise your kids later.
  • If it is about an eight-hour drive, consider taking it at night. Never drive fatigued, but if you can work it out, take advantage of visiting family by driving while the kids sleep, and then getting your sleep in while doting relatives entertain the babes.
  • Take a stretch riding with the kids. If there’s a spare seat in the back, sit with the kiddos. Talk to them about their toys, what they’re excited about with seeing family, and tell them stories about holidays you had when you were young.

Regardless of your strategy, make sure that everyone’s safety comes first, and everyone’s sanity is a close second. Taking the extra care beforehand to increase the potential for comfort and happiness is worth it. Happy travels!

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway. 

Keeping Toddlers Happy in the Car

Monday, April 4th, 2016

Keeping toddlers happy in the carDistracted driving is everywhere. You see people texting, eating, putting on makeup, and doing other crazy things while operating cars. But what about distracted driving with kids? That’s my life. My kids can be demanding while riding in the car, especially for long periods of time. I know it’s hard sitting still when you’re a little one, and I know it can get boring riding in a car. Here are some great ways to keep toddlers happy in the car.


My kids love looking at books! I try to change out which books are in the car periodically. If you have a library card, utilize the books there and get some new titles they aren’t used to seeing. Lift-the-flap books or touch-and-feel books are perfect for my little Levi who is 1. Johanna prefers the books that play sound or have princesses in them.


I shudder at this, because I am a neat freak. However, when you have a cranky child in your car, sometimes it’s okay to get crumbs everywhere. I tend to put snacks in baggies and let my kids choose their snack. I use sippy cups that won’t spill with only water for drinks. These RePlay cups are great for traveling! If you have older kids, try the individual cereal boxes, granola bars, cheese, fruit, or whatever snack you can think of. Try to not give your little ones too much sugar so you can keep your sanity.

Music and Movies

It’s hard to find music everyone agrees upon, but my kids love Mickey Mouse cds. Find something that you can stand that will also help your kids be cheerful. Pick-up some cds at your local library or borrow a cd from a friend. Pick a movie or two if you get desperate. I try to pick movies that don’t get too loud or have some kind of educational spin. The worst thing is a rowdy toddler waking up a sleeping baby on a road trip with their singing to a movie. Try to avoid that.

Coloring and Creativity

If you have older toddlers, try putting coloring pages on a clipboard with stickers, crayons, (try colored pencils if you live where crayons will melt easily in the car) and other supplies. This will keep them busy while keeping their creative juices flowing. Stick to items from the Dollar Tree so you don’t break the bank.

Rewards and Visual Ideas

I love the idea of having some kind of a reward for the trip. For us, our trips home are 6 hours. Try wrapping a couple dollar surprises for your kids. Let them open them up when you make a stop. That way they have something to look forward to and you have a treat for them. Make a little car like this one to show your progress on your trip. How cute is that!

So there are ways to keep toddlers happy in the car. I think we as moms just have to get creative and take the time to invest in our sanity.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of two in Northeast Indiana where she lives, writes, and goes on many, many car rides with toddlers.

Keeping A Toddler Happy In The Car

Friday, March 18th, 2016
Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 12.15.55 PMI have two toddlers.  Just when I think my kids are content with car rides, one decides to arch their back and scream when I gently place the first car seat strap over their arm.  Or better yet, my oldest who likes to “do it all by myself” proceeds to climb into every other spot in the car except for into his car seat.  It can be a real circus when they both are putting up a fight before an excursion that we are usually already getting a late start for.
When things get chaotic in my car, I remind myself that sometimes they are happy in the car and sometimes we get from point A to point B without a struggle.  I force myself to remember the tactics that work and put them back into action.
Get them excited about the trip before even getting ready to get near the car.  Tell them where they are going and why they are going there.  Act really excited yourself about your trip while you talk about it.  I catch myself sounding really fake when I talk up what fun we will have at the grocery store to my 15 month old.  She doesn’t always buy it, but when I tell her we are going to (eventually after running a few errands) pick up her brother from preschool, she is all in.
Dress them in comfortable clothing.  This is a bigger deal than I thought it was.  Ever since my older toddler started telling me what he needs and wants all the time, he started expressing his discomfort in his car seat. I learned that sometimes his pants were too tight, or his shirt was stuck somewhere on his arms where he didn’t want it.  I try to keep this in mind when dressing both my toddlers now.  Comfort in the car comes before that adorable jean overall dress that fits my daughter awkwardly in her car seat.
Have distractions ready.  I’m talking about toys that the little ones either haven’t seen or played with in months or objects that they have never had the privilege of holding before.  Of course they should be safe.  Trust me, I’ve given some items in my garage a desperate double take, but used my better judgment.  If I don’t have decent distraction items, the shoes and socks come off within minutes of pulling out of my driveway and get thrown all around.  It is obvious how many errands I ran in a week with my kids, by looking at the floor of my backseat.
Play Kid Music.  It can definitely be annoying to have to listen to kid songs in the car, but the results can be worth getting those silly songs stuck in your head randomly throughout the day.
Sarah Cole is a stay at home mom to two busy toddlers and finds that sometimes it can be easier to just stay home.

Spring Break: Kids’ Edition

Friday, March 11th, 2016

I remember my younger spring break days…road trips, margaritas, suntans and days spent at the beaches. Spring Break as a parent usually includes a few kids in tow, a whole lot of luggage, and even more planning. Spring Break with kids is different; but it can be just as great! Here are some key tips for traveling with wee ones this Spring Break.

If you are going to the beach…spring break

Choose a destination that is NOT synonymous with Spring Break. Plan ahead and research the beach areas that are known for loud and rowdy college students and AVOID them. Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, South Padre Island, and Miami Beach are all well-known college spring break locales. Not only are they typically much more expensive during peak seasons, they are also more packed and rowdy.

If you are going to the amusement parks…

Plan ahead and check out exclusive park tips prior to your stay. If you are going to Disney, and are great resources for park coupons, current happenings, and local attractions that are going on around the park. If you are eligible for a military discount, you can look up Military discounts listed by park.

If you want to stay close to the park but not at the actual resort, Airbnb can offer homes and apartments that are usually a walkable distance to the entrance. Vacation rentals can be cheaper than resorts and have full kitchen accommodations so you don’t waste money buying expensive meals at the park.

If you are nursing or have a child in diapers, Disney and Lego amusement parks offer pretty incredible nursing and childcare rooms. Some of the accommodations include rocking chairs, privacy curtains, private changing areas, high chairs, microwaves, refrigerators, bottle warmers and emergency diapers and wipes. I have used both the LegoLand and the Disneyland nursing rooms and I cannot say enough great things about them! It really made it feasible for our whole family to go to the parks when we had a young one in tow.

If you are visiting family or friends without baby or toddler items…

If you’ll be staying with people that aren’t equipped for small children, there are many different companies that rent kid supplies. A few years ago we stayed with a family friend in Malibu when my youngest was 8 months. We rented a high chair, crib, crib sheets, and even toys for an entire week, all for a very reasonable rate. If you don’t have to check extra bags when flying, renting can actually save you money. We used Baby’s Away and the delivery and set up was included in the fee! After a long flight, it is a real stress reliever to have everything all prepared at your destination.

No matter where you are traveling, if you’re doing so with kids, always have a plan for separation

Every family should have a predetermined meeting place to go if you get separated, like the ticket window or park information booth. Make sure to talk about your strategy with your child so they know the plan. Some families even use hospital ID bracelets on children to write pertinent information, such as your phone number, in case a child is lost. If you are staying at a hotel, you can also tuck a hotel business card inside your child’s pocket so they know where they are staying. No one wants to think about getting separated from their loved ones, but it is always best to be over prepared.

Tessa Wesnitzer is a health and wellness coach who lives in a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah. She loves her husband, two boys, green tea, long runs, and snowy winters.

Traveling with a Mobile Baby

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

traveling with mobile babyYou’ve seen Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, right? The goofy Thanksgiving road trip movie with John Candy and Steve Martin? If you haven’t seen it, there’s this scene where the car is careening wrong way on the freeway head-on with semi trucks, and both men are screaming, and Steve Martin looks over to John Candy (who is driving) and imagines him as the devil, laughing maniacally. I feel like Steve Martin almost every time I travel with a mobile toddler.

I’m not a super germaphobe, but once kids start to crawl or walk, they don’t stop. Like ever. Traveling often requires your kid to be stationary for long periods of time, and also involves lots of people and germs and grime. This is a nearly impossible juggling act, one that travelers without kids have no clue about. I’ve picked up a couple things though between being in the trenches myself and learning from friends.

Whether you’re traveling by plane, train, or automobile, I like to have two essential items on hot standby, which are usually the first things I see when I open my bag: baby wipes and bribes. Baby wipes for obvious reasons; your kids will be touching everything and trying to eat everything, and they will get dirty. It’s inevitable. They will spill or wipe things on you. You might even get lucky and get peed or puked on.

The second item, bribes, are, in my opinion, equally as important. I like Dum-dums because they’re small and not especially messy, but you can choose your own adventure here. The first time I brought bribes for my kid, I purchased dried fruit and patted myself on the back for making such a terrific and healthful choice. It wasn’t; my kid’s GI tract revolted. Anyway, the bribes can be used to help with altitude/pressure changes on an airplane for kids not using a pacifier or nursing/drinking from a bottle, and they can be used as a reward for good behavior.

To help your kids deal with being temporarily immobilized, you can try different activities that work fine motor skills, keeping them moving just enough. Depending on your mess comfort level, a box of kleenex or a pad of post it notes to tear apart can be a really fun diversion for a toddler. Mini magna-doodle toys are mess free and often pretty fun (and the pen is attached, so your kid can’t toss it into the cracks of the seat and then die of grief after). My kids like the pocket sized Tegu magnetic blocks sets as well. Fun snacks are also an activity that can keep kids busy for a bit, especially if it’s something considered an occasional treat at home. One time recently, the airline we flew on gave each kid an animal-themed origami pack, which ended up being entertaining for all of us. Each kid has a different energy level and different interests, so try and find some combos you think your child will enjoy.

Meaghan Howard is a temporary expat and stay at home mom. She, her husband and two rambunctious boys live in Japan.