I know many people would faint at the idea, but our family loves a good road trip. I grew up taking road trips. I’ve driven to Florida more times than I can count, we took several road trips out to Virginia during the years that my aunt and uncle lived there, and we even drove all the way out west to Wyoming and worked our way back when I was a teenager. I have flown places several times, but with the costs now days it’s just not practical when we can drive places for less. Honestly the last flight I took was in 2008. We simply drive everywhere, and while there was an adjustment to how we did things once Nick came along we still all look forward to our road trips.
Road trips can be a lot of fun, and sometimes they are a financially better choice than flying. For a successful road trip to happen you can’t just jump in the car and head out onto the road though. Especially when young kids are involved! With many road trips under my belt, and several with a child under 5, I have picked up a few tricks over the years.
5 Tips for Road Trips with Little Ones
1. Travel During Sleep Times – Depending on how far you’re driving road trips can feel really long even to adults. The more time your child spends asleep the less time you need to worry about entertaining them. Now the best time for sleeping will depend on your child.
We like to drive straight through from Michigan to Florida (we’re crazy, I know). The first time we attempted it with Nick we left after an early lunch with the plan to drive late into the night and to pull off at a rest stop at some point for a quick nap. We figured Nick would go down in the evening and we’d be set. Well, you know what they say about best laid plans. Nick went to sleep a little after ten as we had hoped, but within about an hour he was awake and he never did go back to sleep. He just sat there with this glazed look staring out the front window. We knew he wasn’t about to go back to sleep, so we were never able to pull of the road to take a rest. We got to Walt Disney World so early that the food court wasn’t even open for breakfast! Nick had a ton of energy and ran all around while we could have used some toothpicks to keep our eyelids open.
We never tried that again! Instead we switched things up and now leave at 3:00 a.m. which gets us to Walt Disney World around 9:00 p.m. Nick stays awake for a bit when we first leave (the excitement you know), but he usually falls asleep for a bit after breakfast and again in the afternoon. Although those naps are getting a lot shorter now that he’s getting older.
2. Bring Entertainment! – This is such an important part of making sure your road trips go smoothly. Electronics are a great way to keep kids entertained for a long amount of time. We often pack my tablet, my mom’s old iPad, and Nick’s VTech Inno Tab Max. There are other great things you can bring though. A magnetic book, or one of those coloring books with a magic ink marker (the white marker that makes the color show on the page when it’s used). When I was a kid my brother and I also had some Car Bingo Cards that we loved to play with. The sky is the limit as long as it can work in the car.
When I was a kid we’d get a new small toy every travel day of our trip. My mother would keep all of the toys in her bag that she had with her. Waiting for her to pull out our surprise for the day was always so exciting. The trick is to not give them the gift too early. Kids usually aren’t bored the moment you hit the road, so wait awhile before you bring out the reinforcements.
3. Bring Snacks – There is something about sitting in the car for long stretches of time that just makes you want to eat. I can’t explain it, but know that if you’re going to be driving all day that you’re going to want to snack. Plus life is much better when no one ends up with low blood sugar. We find it best to bring snacks that are easy to pack, easy to eat in the car, and that can be thrown away when you’re done. Grab bags of food always seem to work well. Be sure to avoid things that need to be kept cold or can make a mess such as chocolate that can melt in a warm car.
4. Be Prepared for Messes – Accidents happen. Whether it’s a spilled drink, sticky fingers, or a kid that has gotten sick you’re likely going to have some type of mess to clean up. If you go prepared though than a mess won’t ruin your road trip. I love to pack travel baby wipe packs to bring with us. I especially love to bring the Huggies Disney ones on our Disney trips! With their pop tops the travel wipes are so easy to use, and since the packaging takes the space of the wipes it becomes more compact as they’re used up. I’m all about having less stuff as I go on road trips. They’re also great to have for bathroom messes when you have young ones with you, for table wipe downs when you’re eating out, and for quick hand cleanings before getting out food.
5. Be Prepared for a Lack of Bathrooms – The lack of bathroom breaks on road trips can be rough for little ones. Even if your child is fully potty trained they might have the habit of letting you know that they need to go when it’s almost too late to find a place to stop. Plus, in some areas you can drive a long time before coming to a rest stop or even an exit that could give you a place to take them potty. The last thing you want to be trying to clean up on the road is a potty mess that’s soaking into the car seat! Pull-Ups are a great way to keep any potty accidents at bay. Knowing that you have that protection there will really keep you from worrying when you can’t find a bathroom. Pull-Ups were our saving grave for our trip to Walt Disney World back in April. I always make sure to keep some extra Pull-Ups in my travel purse as well as a pack of the travel wipes. It makes for an easy clean up if there are any accidents. You can just clean your child up, pull on a new Pull-Up and hit the road again!
Get All of Your Supplies for Your Road Trips at Your Walmart Neighborhood Market
Some times I’ll grab things for road trips (usually little toys) as I see them, but most things I don’t get until just before we go. Of course I’m always a crazy woman that last week before we go trying to get things done (why does it always work out that way?), so the last thing I want to be doing is running to several stores getting what I need. That’s why I love going to my Walmart Neighborhood Market. I can get everything that I need there and for great prices.
I was really excited that I was able to take advantage of some great coupon deals when I went to Walmart this time to buy our Huggies Wipes and Pull-Ups for our upcoming trip. Vacations can cost enough as it is, so it’s nice to be able to get the products I need at a great price. Plus we’ll never go through a box of 56 Pull-Ups on our vacation, so I’ll have a lot of extras to use for overnights later!
Be sure to check out all of the great coupon deals to save on your next trip to your Walmart Neighborhood Market! Don’t know where your closest Walmart Neighborhood Market is? Find it with the store locator!