Before our last road trip, I jotted down a list of road trip tips in my handy-dandy travel notebook. The tips were essentials for making everyone in our family happy on the road. As anyone with kids knows, your “baby” is constantly changing, and what worked for him or her 2 months ago may not work in the present moment or vice-versa. That being said, it’s always been important for us to reflect and plan before every trip depending on the chosen mode of transportation. We even analyze the situation before we go on a walk (ergo? bjorn? stroller?) so you can imagine what goes into a 300 mile drive or a flight across the country.
Today you’ll find the general trip tip (something essential to all of our sanity), and how it worked on our road trip from Seattle to Hayden Lake.
1. Time your departure. It’s not always possible, sometimes you don’t have a choice, but if you are able to, think about the time that would be best for your kids to travel. On the way to Hayden Lake, and on way back home, we hit the road right before Bergen’s first nap. We took advantage of those 2+ hours of quiet time (break time for mom and dad).
2. Make a plan/research where to stop for food. It’s not at all fun when you are hungry with no idea where to go. You end up frustrated, and stuck with something mediocre at best. It’s a good idea to know of a few possibilities along your route. I knew that Ellensburg, WA would be a good pit stop on our journey so I did a little research, and found a highly recommended and rated Taco Truck: Tacos Chalitos. We didn’t end up stopping in Ellensburg on the way to Hayden Lake (see #10), but we did stop on the way home to Seattle, and boy were we glad we did! $7.50 = 2 plates of 3 delicious pork tacos.
3. Research small “attractions”along your route that your kids will like and/or enjoy. These attractions (landmarks, interesting small town claim to fames, famous buildings, etc.) will depend on the age of your children, of course. At this point, Bergen’s favorite attraction is any playground with a swing. He loved the one we found in Moses Lake, WA:
4. Pack “easy-to-eat” food. In between the amazing food stops you plan, you and your kids are bound to need something to snack on. Choose foods that aren’t too messy or complicated to eat. In our “snack-pack” we had swedish fish, red vines, crackers, and raisins. We made the mistake of bringing sunflower seeds! Those didn’t get touched as both Slaed and I looked at the bag, and realized sunflower seeds were way too much trouble to eat on the road! For Bergen (11 months) we packed “puffs” and “pouches“, and little pieces of bread and cheese.
5. Make thoughtful TOY choices. With the age of your child in mind, think about what will keep them occupied in the a car with limited space. For Bergen, I packed a few old stand-by’s that he really likes including a special jingle bell rattle, his 4th of July light-up stick, and his favorite wooden teether keys. I searched around his room, and found some new toys that we hadn’t brought out yet, and those turned out to be a real hit, partly because of the novelty. One of the toys was a little fabric house that carries 4 pets (a dog, cat, bird & bunny) that all make sounds when you squeeze them.
6. Bring along some rockin’ tunes. Whether it’s in your ipod, phone, CD’s, or even cassette tapes (yes, I have a cassette player in my car!) don’t forget the music, and make sure it’s music that your kids like! Even if you are not a huge fan of their music choices, you’ll become a fan once you see what a great time they are having listening and singing along. For our trip to Hayden Lake, Casper Babypants had us dancing in our seats.
7. Take advantage of “rest stops”. You know..those convenient ones right off the side of the highway? Those are great for in & out quick stops, but they also have grassy areas for kids to crawl & run around, picnic tables, and vending machines. You could even make a deal with your kids, and (gasp!) allow them to pick something out as a reward for good behavior! Bergen was quite restless on the way home to Seattle so we took full advantage of the rest stops along I-90. It gave him a chance to stretch his legs, get a diaper change, have a snack, etc. We saw many families doing just the same.
8. Sit in the back seat. This depends on the space you have available of course, but if there is room, get back there, and play, talk, read, sing, and feed! I certainly didn’t do this the whole time we were road tripping, but for various stretches of time, I sat next to Bergen, and entertained him. I now have The Very Hungry Caterpillar board book memorized (he loves to turn each page as they grow in size).
9. Organize bags so supplies are easy to reach. We packed a food bag, diaper bag (of course), and toy bag. Each were placed strategically in the back seat so we could grab what we needed with out any injuries or swerving. Bags or supplies that we knew we didn’t need were packed in the trunk. That way, we weren’t confused with a sea of luggage.
10. Be flexible! As you know, with kids in tow, things will not always go as planned. Expect that, anticipate it, and roll with it. Case in point: I spent lots of time researching where we would stop in Ellensburg, and found the perfect taco truck for us, and park for Bergen . In my mind we would take our tacos to the park, sit down at a lovely picnic table, and enjoy. I was so excited! Well, guess who was still sleeping as we were approaching Ellensburg? Do you think we were going to wake him up? Absolutely not. Instead we were able to continue on to Moses Lake where grabbed Subway, and found a school with a playground via Slaed’s phone. It all worked out as you read in #2 because I got to have my taco stop on the way home!
Info to Know:
- Tacos Chalito Truck: 209 South Main Street (Ellensburg, WA) 509-962-5643
- West Ellensburg Park: 900 West 3rd Avenue (Ellensburg, WA)
What are your road trip tips in action? Share your tip and/or story by leaving a comment!
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