My Must Haves for Traveling With Kids
Before I had my first child, I drove a 1989 BMW 325is. If you don’t know, this is a very small two door car. I loved this car; it got great gas mileage, hugged the road, and fit in every parking spot. Then my son was born. No car seat would fit in that tiny car. No stroller would fit in the trunk. I traded that car in for a larger car, and this was the first change that I made in my life to travel with kids. Even so, with just one child, I could get by with a midsize car and a few items in my bag. Then I became pregnant again, and to my and my husband’s great surprise, it was twins. It is almost impossible to fit three car seats across the back seat of any car. It was mini-van time! Going from one to three kids in the blink of an eye rapidly taught me a thing or two about traveling with kids. You can’t fake it with three children; you have to be prepared! I quickly let go of my abrasion to driving my “oversized” van and started packing it with items that made my life a little easier. Here are my must haves for traveling with kids in the car:
1. Entertainment: It seems like the moment I buckle my kids into the car seat they all start whining for something to do. I always try to have a few entertainment items ready to combat the complaints.
- Clipboards with paper and pencils or crayons: The clipboard is really the best thing that I have found for coloring, drawing, and writing in the car. I have tried other items, but the clipboards I purchased at the dollar store are hands down the best and the easiest to store.
- Books: I tuck a few favorite reads next to each car seat in a bind.
- Small toy: The car toys keep getting out of hand in my car, so I now limit the kids to one toy choice per ride, unless we are going on a really long trip.
- Game board: My eight year old loves his Melissa and Doug license plate game. He watches out the window all the time for new states to add to his board and shares it with friends who may be riding along. He often asks me to make a loop around the parking lot so he can check all of the license plates.
- Videos: Yes, I confess that I went for the van with the entertainment system in it. I try not to use the movie system all the time, but there are moments when we are traveling that I think it might be the best purchase I have ever made.
2. Food: Since having my twins, Costco is my new favorite store. I buy snacks in bulk and keep them in my van’s storage area. This often saves me from a desperate fast food run. Here are a few snacks that I pack in my car:
- Peanut butter crackers: My kids love these and they are filling, too.
- Juice boxes and water bottles: Beverages with lids or that are self contained are a must when we go anywhere.
- Squeeze applesauce: Another great find for the car is the squeeze container applesauce. They come in a little pouch with a lid so no spoon is required.
- Clementines: I don’t store these in the car for obvious reasons, but I often take them with us in a zip lock baggy. The clementine is great because it is small and easy to peel. I just throw the peel back in the plastic bag when we are done and it contains the mess.
3. Reserve supplies: I wish I could say that my need for extra clothes went away with the diaper bag but it didn’t. My twins are potty training and we always need extras, although even my older son has needed emergency clothes on occasion. You never know what could happen on an outing. So, I try to keep an extra pair of pants, underwear, socks, and shirts for all my kiddos.
4. Cleaning supplies: Messes happen all the time. I have learned this lesson the hard way far too many times. I now try to keep a small collection of cleaning tools in my car for the inevitable.
- Paper towel: What can’t paper towel clean up? I really don’t know. I do keep a rag in my car because I want to be green, but sometimes there are messes that can’t be handled with anything less than a roll of paper towels.
- Baby wipes: These are great for cleaning up small car messes and dirty children. What’s not to love?
- Plastic shopping bags: There are so many uses for a basic plastic shopping bag. I have tons. We use them for all sorts of tasks like cleaning out trash from the car, carrying loose items, and storing soiled clothing.
From my life – Erin Welker