Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored or partnered post. All ideas, suggestions and content herein are strictly our own, based on our experiences, trial & error, and success.
We’ve come a long way in regards to organizing our vehicles for the every day stuff or long work commutes, much less traveling with our youngest one. If you haven’t seen the car seat organizers or travel trays, be sure to do so… as they are a game changer. With pockets for drink & snacks, small toys, crayons or dry erase markers, and let’s not forget about devices… these handy gizmos are the most ingenious. Many will fold and include a carrying strap for ease of transport, especially for trains or air travel. Keep your travel tray stocked with activities and books, remembering to swap out materials every so often to ensure new stimulation.
Depending on the ages of your children, and the duration of travel, not all materials will fit in a single travel source like the mentioned travel trays. I always pack a travel tote… this is separate from the diaper bag and separate from any luggage. It’s almost like the “carry-on” bag for the airplane. What are those things that you’ll only (or definitely) need access to while moving? Having a backup tote with extra crayons & pencils, tissues, snacks, wipes, etc, has proved essential in our travels. Sometimes things fall (yes, even with all those mesh pockets and organization) and items aren’t easily retrieved while the vehicle is in motion and safety seats are secured. Having backup supplies can be a life-saver for fighting off tears. Check out my additional suggestions for packing the best Travel Tote.
One of my favorite traveling tips for little ones is incorporating their favorite music. There’s only so much “Wheels On The Bus” any parent can take. That’s why we skip the nursery rhymes and go for the good stuff that parents can actually enjoy… even if it gets stuck on repeat for 11th time. Here are some of our favorites that have yet to get old and you can visit our Music, Art & Theater page for additional music reviews and suggestions. Enjoy the sound of your kiddo’s laughter, the sound of purpose in song, and the sound of some pretty incredible beats.
Picasso, That’s Who! (And So Can You!) by Hope Harris
Someone Else’s Shoes by Recess Music
Raise A Ruckus by Hullabaloo
Backseat Driver by the Cat’s Pajama’s
Scavenger Hunt – tape a colorful picture scavenger hunt sheet to the corner of their activity boards for easy reference throughout the trip.
Story of travel to Kentucky and stopped convenient store with mini carousel. Important to know your child and their limitations… if it is just going to tease them more than offer a bit a fresh air… you might want to pass. It worked for us because we set expectations of just one ride. One and done.
Don’t forget the pillow and blanket. Kids fall asleep on car rides. This is fact. So why not make the most of it with their comfort in mind. When Victoria was little, we used Pillow Pets and Cuddle Uppets which was a plush pillow-like puppet attached to a blanket. Another super adorable travel companion was our little lady bug Necknapperz. This stuffed animal zipped inside out between being a stuffed toy and being a neck rest. These are recommended for ages 3+ and my personal experience was the thickness of the neck rest is too big for very little children.
If there is a favorite bedtime stuffy… consider packing it for the CAR ONLY. Avoid accidentally leaving it behind at a rest stop, restaurant, Aunt Millie’s, wherever, with a strict rule that the stuffies stay in the car.
Do make the most of rest-stops. Years ago, while traveling to Kentucky to visit family and watch the Derby, we made a quick convenience stop. This store just happened to have a tiny carousel for 50 cents a ride. Ensuring we let Victoria know that she will only get a quick ride, we popped our quarters in and let her go. It was unexpected. It was fun. It was… memorable, even if only 90 seconds long.
Think outside the box for fun alternatives. One that came to mind was packing sidewalk chalk for the rest-stop. Again, be clear about expectations – set a timer. Some Information Resource Centers and rest-stops have picnic areas or grassy areas… let the children stretch their legs… it might tire them out for another nap round.
There are also lots of incredible travel hacks on our Pinterest page to include games, conversations starters, and additional playtime tricks like magnets on a baking sheet. Let us know in the comments which hack you will try next in your travels.