Over the past 16 trips, we've figured out a groove for long trips. Here are a couple tips to help you get organized and survive your next road trip!
I love using the reusable shopping bags from the grocery store to keep us organized in the car. I usually fill one with toys and movies, one with snacks, and have even used them for cosmetics in the past. I like that they have a flat, wide bottom so you can put things in them neatly without it getting all jumbled the second you pick it up. I recently picked up a two pack of bags from BJ's and they are awesome! They are larger and sturdier than the typical reusable grocery store bag!
When taking long road trips, I'm sure you'll be packing your favorite snacks for the road. We used to just throw the entire bag or box of snacks into a tote bag. It took up a bunch of space and was hard to get to specific things without digging through the entire contents of the tote bag.
Now when we travel, I make each of us several snack sized bags filled with individual portions of our favorite snacks. Then, I throw each person's snacks into a large ziplock bag and write their name on it. It's so much easier to find what I'm looking for and pass out snacks on the go this way!
Stack Outfits in Order
For years, I packed our suitcase by stacking like clothing items together. As the trip went on, though, the suitcase would become a mess from us digging through it to find clothes to assemble outfits.
Now, I plan out what we are going to wear each day and assemble each outfit, including accessories, and stack them together. Then, I stack each person's outfits in the order we will use them, including pajamas. It's so much easier to just pull an outfit out from the top and the suitcase stays neat! I put any extra clothes in the mesh zippered compartment of the suitcase for easy access.
This is probably a given, but pack lots of hand wipes and Clorox wipes. I like to pick up a couple travel sized containers to throw in my purse. They always come in handy, especially when you are making 297,109 potty trips. Ya never know when the only bathroom around is a nasty pants gas station which will, of course, have no soap. Trust me, pack wipes. ;)
Have Small, Potty Trained Kids Wear Pants
Ok, so since I just talked about bathrooms, I guess I'll just go ahead and give you TMI. ;) Have your small, potty trained kids wear pants on the road, not shorts. Shorts tend to fall down/off and drag the bathroom ground during potty trips which has put us in some super gross situations. I'll spare you the details, but it has led to emergency clothing changes. Pants collect nicely around the shoes instead of dragging the ground, thus sparing your child's clothes from whatever nasty "liquids" are on the ground around the toilet. TMI over. Hope you weren't eating. ;)
If Your Kids Sleep in the Car, Travel Overnight
When Little Man was a baby/toddler, he slept like a champ in the car, even around town. We took advantage of that and traveled overnight for a couple years. We would feed him his last bottle, then hit the road right at his bedtime. He would wake up when we stopped for gas, but he would go back to sleep pretty easily once we were back on the road because it was dark outside and during his normal sleep hours.
Little Girlie, on the other hand, does not sleep in the car. This last time we traveled to Florida, she only slept for 1 1/2 hours out of the 12 hours we were in the car! Because we know she's not a car sleeper, we don't travel overnight anymore. Why lose a night of sleep just to listen to a screaming baby who is up past their bedtime? Which leads me to my next tip...
Bring a DVD Player & New Movie
I'm sure the entire world has this one figured out already, but if not, bring a DVD player. It is SO worth the money! We didn't get one until Little Man was maybe 2 or 3 and it has made such a difference! We only use the DVD player on road trips, so the kids think it's the coolest treat ever to get to watch TV in the car. It really breaks up the drive nicely. We usually try to pick up a new movie before road trips to give them something fresh to watch. Target has a great selection of $5 kids movies!
Pack Fresh, Car Friendly Toys
We try to pack toys that are easy to play with in the car...read, toys that don't have tons of pieces. We take note of which toys the kids play with that keep their attention the longest, then pack them a couple days in advance. Because the toys have been packed and haven't been played with in a little while, they are fresh and keep their attention the longest. Some of our favorite car toys are the Leap Frog laptop, Take-N-Play Thomas train sets, coloring books, and road trip Bingo games. If you are bringing coloring materials, pack a clipboard for your child to color on. Here's a couple road trip Bingo boards I've saved to bring along on trips!
I found this Cars themed Bingo board on a forum and thought it was fun!
Road Sign Bingo
Backseat Bingo via Kiwi Crate
Hope these tips help you out on your next trip! What are some of your traveling tips? I'd love to hear them and learn from you all!