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I have always loved to travel – whether it be on an airplane or in the car for a fun road trip, I’ve always thought of the journey as being just as fun as getting to the destination. From the time Ada was born, we always continued to travel with her. Naturally, the travel itch lived on after Grey was born too – we were lucky, the two of them loved the car. Westley, however, was a whole different story. He hated the car from the moment we left the hospital.
The end of summer came so quickly, as did our moving date. I knew it would be much easier to get the house packed without the kids being there. You know how it goes right? Clean up one thing while the kids take out another? We decided that while Jay tackled the move, I would take the kids to visit my Mom and sister in DC! It’s a 10 ½ hour drive and I was determined to make it work! Ten hours, solo with the three kids – 6, 3 and 1 years old. Guess what? We made it there and back. I had so many friends on social media telling me it was “so brave” and asking my secret, so I decided to share my tips with y’all!
Packing for the Drive
I always start each trip the same. The night before, we fill up the truck at the gas station of our local grocery store and pop in to stock up on snacks. I buy snacks that are higher in protein and low in sugar. Sugar can cause tummy aches. I also try to avoid dairy before a long drive because it’s proven to be an issue on the kids bellies- you live and you learn, right? I love snacks like pretzels, peanuts, grapes, bananas, and fresh popcorn. Then, I use a cooler bag and fill it with drinks and ice packs. I keep these things in the passenger seat beside me so I can easily grab them for myself and for the kids. I also keep things like wipes, diapers, change of clothes and hand sanitizer nearby.
Each kiddo has a bag that they get to keep near them for the ride. In the bags, I pack things like books, color wonder paper and markers, magnetic toys, window clings, and their favorite toys like cars for Grey and dolls for Ada. We have TV screens in our headrests, so I also pack movies for them, but I prefer to utilize the movies as a last resort. The wide variety of toys keeps them pretty busy for a good chunk of the drive and when they tire of one thing, they can move onto another.
Keep Stops Short
It’s so easy to be tempted to stop and get a really good stretch in, but long stops make me dread the rest of the drive, so we have it down to a 15-minute science (give or take a few minutes). We ONLY stop at truck stops. Well lit, busy, and super clean bathrooms. I also love that the last stalls have the baby seat in them so I can sit Wes down during our bathroom breaks. We all take our turns while the truck is being filled with gas, get buckled, grab something from a drive-through and are back onto the road. Occasionally, I’ll let the kids pick out one special snack at the truck stop if they’ve been extra great! Because we have this routine EVERY time we travel, the kids are used to it!
Comfort is Key
My number one most important tip is to make their comfort a priority. We bring a small pillow for the two bigger kids as well as a light blanket and we dress in our favorite activewear.
For Wes, it’s a little different, though. He has always hated the car, let alone a long drive. A great car seat is key for younger children. Our new favorite seat is the NEW Maxi-Cosi Magellan™ Max 5-in-1 Convertible Car Seat – it’s amazing!
This 5-in-1 convertible car seat can be used from birth to 10 years (5lbs- 120lbs)! Maxi-Cosi is the top selling baby car seat brand worldwide- we actually bought our first Maxi-Cosi car seat before our first road trip with Ada 5 years ago. We loved the comfort, style and the soft, premium, washable fabrics.
As someone who is budget crazy and loves to save, the Maxi-Cosi Magellan™ Max 5-in-1 Convertible Car Seat has me so excited. Gone are the days of having to buy multiple car seats for every stage of growth.
The Magellan™ Max can easily transition between FIVE modes- Baby rear-facing, toddler rear-facing, toddler forward-facing, child forward-facing as well as belt positioning booster. So along with it being what I see as the most comfortable option, it’s also the most practical option! The Magellan™ Max retails for $399.99 each and can be found at Albee Baby, Nordstrom, Buy Buy Baby and other specialty retailers. Wes loves it too. I was so relieved to make it the whole trip and not have any crying fits. Nothing makes a drive harder than hearing an uncomfortable baby crying!
One of the most important tips I can give you is this – YOU CAN DO THIS! Don’t let flying solo keep you from traveling with your kids! I really think it’s so important for kids to be well traveled, so hop in, buckle up, be safe and have fun!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.