If you follow my social media pages, it’s no surprise to you that we just got home from a wonderful 10-day vacation to St. Augustine, Florida. I had a post about one of the activities I put together for my girls to do in the car and had some questions which lead me to a whole post on traveling with the littles.
Our girls (5 and 3) are pretty good little travelers. We took our first Florida trip when Ella was about 15 months old and in a rear-facing car seat. Since then, we’ve made several 3.5 hour trips to my grandparents in Kentucky, 7 hour trips to Gatlinburg, TN, and several more than 12 hour trips to Gulf Shores, Destin, and St. Augustine. I took my travel ideas from several friends’ past experiences and Pinterest. Here is my compiled list of tried-and-true traveling with littles list.
1. GPS time vs REAL time: When someone asks me how long of a drive it is to our destination, I always give them the GPS time and then add about 2 hours (for our longer trips) for our REAL time. Starting the trip knowing that we aren’t going to beat the GPS time and that we will have to stop for food, potty breaks, and car seat stretches just sets the tone. If you are hoping to make record time on your 12 hour trip while traveling with little ones, you will probably be disappointed.
2. Kid-approved, car-approved snacks: I always have a snack bag packed and close to me. When the girls were rear-facing, I didn’t allow them to eat in their car seats since I couldn’t see them and was paranoid of them choking. Now that they are both forward-facing, it makes snacking while driving possible! I typically splurge on individual sized bagged items for road trips and I make sure I have an even number of each item so there is no fighting. Some of our go-to items: Goldfish, pretzels, applesauce pouches, and Chex Mix.
3. Driving through the night isn’t for everyone: Most people suggest that we drive through the night so the kids sleep most of the time. We tried this last October and it just wasn’t for us. I have a hard time sleeping when Chad is driving, even though he drives almost the whole way. He needed me to drive the last hour or so into St. Augustine in October and it was awful. I had been up for more than 24 hours and had my window down, my music cranked, and was shoving food in my mouth even though I wasn’t hungry just to stay awake. When we arrived, Chad was able to nap but the girls were wide awake and wanted me to entertain them. I started the vacation off extremely exhausted and never really recovered. Our normal comfort drive time is to leave about 3-4 AM and drive straight through. This normally gets us to our destination right about dinner time.
4. Age appropriate activities: One of my favorite parts of packing is packing fun activities for the girls. I usually make a trip to the Dollar Spot at Target because Target never fails me. On this trip, I got a set of Easter lacing cards, an Easter coloring book with stickers, two different felt activities, an Easter egg sticker decorating activity, a Minnie Mouse notepad with coloring activities and some twistable crayons. I also took a fine motor activity from my classroom. I had large laminated Emoji faces and colored clothes pins. They make “crazy hair” on the Emojis with the clothes pins. I also have each girl choose 4-5 books and 3 DVDs. I used their personalized cinch sacks from Thirty-One for their activities. Each girl has the exact same things and I don’t show them the new activities until we are on the trip. This keeps the excitement level high!
5. Potty breaks: I’m sure this is a no-brainer, but we try to never stop if one or both of them are asleep because they ALWAYS wake up as soon as we stop. We try to eat, gas up, and potty at each stop to eliminate reason to stop later. If your child is fairly new to potty-training, I would suggest putting a Pull-Up on them for the drive.
6. Have fun: I’m lucky to have a husband who just rolls with the punches and is super laid back. This makes for very different road trips than I remember growing up. The more relaxed you are, the more fun you’ll have, and the less stressed you’ll be at the start (or end) of your vacation!
Family vacations are super important to us. It gives us all a chance to escape the reality of working, schedules, chores, and just the daily grind. It gives us a chance to bond and enjoy new experiences as a family. The driving part is the not-so-fun part of vacationing, but once you are there, it’s totally worth it. I quickly forget how long and boring the drive was and get ready to start planning the next vacation almost immediately. Good luck!
Feel free to share your travel tips with us below!
Until next time….
“Fill your life with adventures, not things. Have stories to tell, not things to show.”