Last January, our family of four embarked on a road trip to sunny Florida. My best friend of literally 30 years was living there. She and her family were moving to Japan (with her Navy husband) and we wanted to visit them before they took their voyage to the other side of the world. I knew this was something I wanted to do, but it seemed impossible to take such an impromptu, yet budget-friendly trip. We found that the best option for us would be to take a road trip!
To say we were nervous to take a road trip with twin 2.5 year olds is an understatement. Not to mention, we live in Michigan and were facing a 16 hour trip. Nonetheless, I really wanted to see my bestie before her three year relocation.
We figured out how we would approach this voyage by using the Road Trip Travel Planner (which you can sign up to receive below, for free), saw that it could definitely work (at least on paper) and we went for it!
I found the following list items very helpful in keeping us sane and it kept the twins comfortable and entertained.
Here is the list of 10 must haves to get your toddler(s) through a long road trip:
1. Snacks – Fruit (bananas, frozen grapes, sliced strawberries), fruit snacks, veggie sticks (celery and carrots), peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cookies, pretzels and water.
2. Comfortable clothing – Dressing your toddler in comfortable clothing for any trip lasting longer than 4 hours is ideal. During our 16 hour road trip, we outfitted the twins in jogging suits with tee shirts underneath them. This allowed them to be comfortable and to add or remove layers as the temperature changed as we traveled through 7 states.
3. Blankets and pillows – The twins napped off and on throughout our trip. It was very helpful to have their special blankets and travel pillows. The u-shaped travel pillows were very helpful in preventing a stiff neck in their car seats.
4. TV with their favorite movies/tv shows – This would have been first on the list, but I understand not everyone will has this luxury. However, if at all possible, get one! It really was a lifesaver. My husband and I listened to the movie Frozen, no less than 10 times on the trip there and back, but it really was worth it. They were very entertained and complained very little (and our daughter is very skilled in talking (and complaining ?)). I do believe this was our key to success in this trip. In the future, I would mix in more educational shows and movies, but this is definitely a must for us.
5. Small notebook and crayons – We did take frequent breaks from the tv (although they didn’t really like it). Some of the things we did were practice writing their names and drawing pictures. This only kept them entertained for short bursts of time, but it was still worth the break from hearing “Let it Go!”.
6. Pull-ups if your child isn’t potty trained/still learning or a potty chair for emergencies (i.e., no clean restrooms in a 50 mile radius) if they are potty trained.
7. Baby wipes – The snacks listed first on this list can get messy, not to mention those times when we didn’t quite make it to the toilet. These were a must have for many reasons. The wipes were also useful towards the end of the trip when we were getting tired. A quick swipe across the forehead was surprisingly very refreshing.
8. Paper towel – Again, with toddlers, you never know what you’ll get into, in terms of mess. These also came in handy when stopping for a restroom break and the restroom was under supplied. The wet baby wipes coupled with the dry paper towel was a winning team for keeping things clean.
9. Sunglasses – My son hates when the sun gets in his eyes. He squeals like no other. The sunglasses came in handy for those moments of the day when the sun was directly in his eyes while he was trying to watch Frozen. They were also uber cute for road trip pics.
10. Sing a long cds – I think the twins did more singing on this trip than they have in all of their lives. When we weren’t watching Frozen, I could keep them entertained with this children’s music
It went a lot smoother than we ever expected. We got to see the bestie and her fun boys before their big move. Since we had such a good road that time, we repeated the trip to Florida last summer for a birthday treat for the twins and me to Disney World. I’ll write about that trip one day.
If this inspired you to embark on your own adventure with your toddler(s) and you’d like even more helpful information like, packing lists, ways to fit in naps and more, let me know in the comments.