By Rita Chavez
It’s midwinter break for many families around the country, and many of us are taking the opportunity to take mini-vacations during the long weekend or the whole week. Road trips with kids can seem daunting, but with a little preparation, these road trip essentials will help make that trip a breeze.
One thing we as parents want to be sure we have covered is entertainment for our kids. From coloring books to DVD players, there are so many vehicle-friendly options for entertainment that we can give our little ones! One of my personal favorites for the car is an LCD writing tablet. These tablets are reusable tablets that kids can draw or doodle on and can easily erase with the press of a button. Most LCD writing tablets have a stylus that can be attached to prevent losing it, but you can also use your fingernail to write on them as well. We also really like having dry erase books and dry erase markers. Kids can practice their letters or trace pictures, and can easily wipe them clean with a dry napkin. They also have the option of using different colored markers. Another entertainment items my kids really enjoy are reusable stickers and pads. There are many different themed reusable sticker books on the market, and if they decide to get creative and put them on the windows, they easily come off and can be placed back in the book!
Another important essential for keeping our kiddos happy on long road trips is snacks! Sometimes it may be difficult for your little ones to open snacks while on the road, so I would recommend pre-prepping snacks in easy-open containers. I really like using stackable snack containers that screw together and won’t get lost in the snack bag. These also easily fit into the cup holders in car seats. Our ultimate favorite road trip snack container is the bento box! It holds so many different options, so kids can have a variety to choose from, and easily sits open in your little one’s lap. Most toddlers are able to close it back up easily as well when they are done. Remember as well, try to avoid any circular shaped foods, such as grapes or M&Ms, as they can present a choking hazard. If you do decide to bring along grapes, cut them in half and pack them.
Road trips with kids can get pretty messy, so it’s always important to pack your sanitary essentials, should you find yourself in a sticky situation. I always keep an “oops” bag handy for my kids (to include my 8-year-old), in case they need to change their clothes at a stop. I keep an extra pair of undies, bottoms, socks, and a shirt in a double pouch wet bag in the back seat for easy access and carrying into a bathroom, and I can put soiled clothes back into the wet bag. I also keep sanitizing wipes (like Lysol wipes) and flushable toilet wipes for messier bathroom trips, or for wiping tables at restaurants. I also always have a roll of paper towel and toilet paper handy, you never know when you will need to clean up spills and the toilet paper can come in handy for bathrooms that are not well-stocked or for runny noses. If you have a little one who is potty training, travel potties come in so handy for bathroom stops if you are not close to a place with a bathroom. You can attach a plastic shopping bag to the bottom, let them potty, wipe them, tie it all in the bag, and toss in the trash or store till you get to the next place with a trash can! These travel potties also fold up and take up much less space in a trunk than a normal potty chair.
Last but not least, how will you store all these things? I keep a storage cube tote between my girls’ car seats with all of their entertainment needs. They can easily access these items, and can also share their things with each other. I also like to keep a stiff edged storage tote on the floor in front of their seats for the sanitary essentials (minus the potty that goes in the trunk), and an insulated lunchbox that can fit into that storage tote for snacks.
It is always good to be prepared for the unexpected on the road with little ones. We know as parents that we will be making more stops, which can sometimes make our trips longer than we intend. I hope my favorite essentials list will help make your next road trip with kids as easy as possible!
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