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Monday, April 12, 2010

Surviving (& Enjoying) a 14 hour car ride with the kids!

We just got back from a trip to Arizona! It is so nice to be within driving distance . . . yes 14 hours is do-able & actually enjoyable for us! We've done the trip a couple of times & I've learned a few things on organizing the car ride that might be helpful for someone else, so I thought I'd share:

  • I use several re-usable shopping bags to organize things that we need to have available during the car ride.
  • Pack spare clothes (for everyone, adults included!) that are easy to access -- one set of clothes for adults, several for each kid!
  • Pack a bag of cleaning supplies: kitchen washcloth & towel, paper towels, baby wipes, plastic trash bags, and cleaner for the upholstery & stain remover (I bring an all-purpose cleaner that can be used for both clothing stains & upholstery)
  • Pack a diaper changing bag - several (more than you think you'll need) diapers, wipes, changing pad
  • Pack a snack bag -- this is not the time for me to think about nutrition, instead I think about what will keep the kids happy & what will make it fun for them. I like to use the snack cups with the lids that the kids can put their hands right through to avoid big spills. Some of our favorite snacks are fruit snacks & mini marshmallows.
  • A bag of new (cheap) books & toys or pull out some small toys that you've put away. The key here is to have it be novel items that they don't play with every day.
  • Jeff used a diaper box, sealed up and then cut about an 8inchx8inch hole in the top corner to use for trash. He put it between the 2 front seats for easy access. Ours also is the "stand" for our dvd player since we don't have a built-in one.
  • What did they do before DVD's? We get a few favorite cartoons to play for the kids as we drive. If you don't have a built-in dvd player, get a portable one; that's what we use!
  • If you're stopping overnight somewhere before reaching your final destination, pack a bag (make sure its easily accessible) with the stuff you'll need for just that one night so when you stop you only have to bring in one bag along with a bag of your toiletries.
  • Bring along baby medications, just in case. Our 4 month old started teething along the way & we were glad we had packed the infant tylenol as a "just in case".
  • Keep a gallon jug of water handy to pass around drinks.
Remember that sitting in a car for hours on end is difficult for kids, so try to be patient & have some fun along the way. When we make stops, my husband will take our 2 year old to walk around the store or run around in a grassy area at a rest stop while I feed the baby. We'll also make a quick stop for ice cream or pick up a cheap new toy at a gas station store. When we make a stop for gas or something else where we're not feeding the baby, I do a quick re-organize of things . . . filling sippy cups for the next leg of the trip, getting snacks ready, cleaning up any trash, etc.

Our kids do travel really well, but with a 2 year old and 4 month old, any trip can be tough. Staying organized & prepared has been the key to my sanity!


  1. Oohhh, great post!! I am flying with my 3 kids to New York next week and this gave me some great ideas for things to bring on the plane, and also a good reminder that I need to stay organized! Love your blog!!

  2. Thank you, Tonii -- I love yours too! You are helping me "cut the chaos"!