*All opinions are 100% my own. Food Basics provided me with payment for this review. This post also includes affiliate links.
The Ontario grocery store Food Basics has challenged me to share what I would do with the money I would save if I won their Free Groceries For a Year giveaway. This got my thinking about all of the fun we have had as a family and what is still left on our bucket list. If they had asked me two years ago, when we still lived in California, I would have probably said, “go to Europe or Hawaii,” or something extravagant like that. Now that we are isolated from our family more than we have ever been, my answer has defiantly changed. If we won free groceries for a year, I would love to take my family on an epic road trip across the US to spend time with family, visit friends, and explore everything the United States has to offer.
When we moved from San Diego to Toronto, we spent 2 weeks driving across the country. It was such an amazing trip that honestly went by too fast. We didn’t get to make every stop we would have liked to make and we did very little site seeing so that we could maximize time spent with family, so to do it again and have more time and money (Like 10,000 dollars thanks to Food Basics!) to budget, would be a dream.
So lets get down to the reason you are here, you want my tips for road tripping with kids. I can honestly tell you, we had very little complaining from our (at the time) 1 year old and 2.5 year old throughout our 14 day drive, which makes me want to do it all again even more. Here is what I did to make sure the road trip went smooth.
Road Tripping With Children
Drive at night – This is my biggest and most important tip! Not only was this good for our cross country road trip, but this works for me every time I drive to and from Chicago and Toronto to visit my parents. We usually eat dinner around 6:00, we can get loaded in the car by 7, right away, I put a movie on for them and then by the time the movie is over, the kids are asleep. That means a peaceful drive for me at least until sun rise, hallelujah.
Movies – If you ask me, and if you are reading this then you are hehe, movies are the way to go. There are a lot of different electronics to use in the car that will entertain kids for a long period of time, but I prefer to use movies and here is why I prefer them. Tablets can cause a lot of “mom, I need help,” if you kids aren’t very proficient in using them. I have also found it hard to explain to them that we don’t have a wireless connection in the car so some of what they normally do on the tablet, isn’t available and that can cause frustration. Frustration must be avoided at all costs. I also don’t let the kids watch shorter DVDs like TV shows and such, because then I find myself constantly juggling driving and changing the disks in the player and we all know that isn’t very safe. So, movies are the way to go, because of their length and their ability to keep kids engaged for a long amount of time. If you don’t have a DVD player in your car, you can find great portable DVD players online or at Best Buy.
Headphones – A pair of kids headphones are a must! Trust me, you do not want to listen to Elsa sing “Let It Go” 200 times during a week long road trip. Get the kids some headphones and no matter what they are doing, a tablet or a movie, you can listen to whatever you want without disrupting each other.
Avoid bring activities that might need help – This is especially important if you are traveling as a solo adult or if you are going to want to sleep while your partner drives. Crayons will roll, toys will fall, and with young kids, books need to be read by someone who can read and all of this means you will hear, “MOM I NEED HELP!” I suggest leaving these types of activities at home or pulling them out when you have reached your destination.
Pack light – Everyone in the car will feel more comfortable if you have room to breath. You might think, since you aren’t paying airport baggage fees you can bring everything under the sun, but that really isn’t ideal. You don’t want to block windows with suitcases, or jam stuff between the seats, it will just cause more chaos then you want on a road trip.
Keep car organized – Packing light leads into this tip. If you pack light, then you can keep your car organized and it will be easier to reach DVDs, blankets, favorite stuffed friends, water bottles and snacks as you need them. Also, when you make stops, you can easily grab what you need for just that stop without unloading your entire vehicle to find the pair of flip flops you want.
Snacks – Snacks are key, anytime the kids get fussy I’m all, “LOOK WHAT I GOT!” Because I try to keep my kids on a healthy food track, but they also need to be car trip friendly (blueberries are not going to cut it in the car), my go to snacks are granola bars, trail mix, apple sauce squeeze packets, and apples. Nothing too sticky or messy, nothing that needs to be kept cold in a cooler, all are easy to hand out while driving.
Dress comfy – It is so important for the kids to be comfortable, because like I said before, you want to avoid frustration and kids that are uncomfortable are frustrated. I always put my kids in their favorite pair of jammies and shoes that are very easy to slip on and off (usually flip flops), so that they are totally comfortable in their car seats. The shoes are key so that when I grab them out of the car for pee stops, I don’t have to spend 10 minutes putting their shoes back on. Also, because my kids are still very young, I put them in pull ups just incase I can’t find a bathroom fast enough for them. I would hate for them to have an accident that is partially my fault and then have to sit in a wet car seat for the rest of the trip.
Have a plan – If your trip is 4 hours or 4 days, you still need a plan. When I drive to Chicago from Toronto, I know that we won’t be making bathroom stops or food stops. We will drive to the last exit before we cross the bordered and then we will fill up our gas. It’s the only stop we have to make. Its a fast trip and I don’t like to prolong it with frequent stops. When we drove across the country, we knew how far we would drive before we stopped for food, we planned our visits along the way and how long we would stay, we also always had a plan for the time we would get back on the road. A plan is key to avoid turing an 8 hour road trip into a 12 hour road trip.
I hope these tips have inspired you to load up your car and explore the world around you!
Would you like to win Free Groceries For a Year ? After June 5th, visit a Food Basics in Ontario for a special pin code needed to enter. Want to win 1000 dollars in free groceries? All you have to do is make a short video explaining what having it all means to you and upload it to their website FoodBasics.ca. Visit their website for more details on the prize and how you can win!
Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.