Family road trips can be a challenge for restless kids - not to mention road-weary adults.
These tips for family road trips are designed to keep little ones happily occupied (and not killing each other) on short errands and long drives and to make sure you're prepared for the slight curves life throws you and the troops on the road.
I've divided the stuff into categories. Just consider each category a survival kit, and package that stuff together in zip-close plastic bags or clear plastic bins. Make room in your vehicle for these survival kits: bad-hair day survival kit, boredom survival kit, injury survival kit, and a mess survival kit.
I get so cranky with parents who do not bring toys or games to amuse their small children in restaurants and other public places.
If you must bring toddlers to a nice restaurant or doctor's office, at least keep them amused and quiet.
I pack activity kits for each kid. The kids can take the activity kits into restaurants, meetings, or even boring visits with Mom's friends and stay occupied. That way, I can enjoy myself, too.
The kits also keep kids happy on both short errands and long drives. Good kid kits for little kids include:
Good kits for big kids include:
It's also a good idea to bring a pillow for each kid to encourage naps. And pack water bottles and healthy snacks that are minimal mess-makers, such as frozen grapes, cereal o's, fruit roll-ups, and juice boxes.
Not really just for bad-hair days, this survival kit is there for those days your makeup needs a touchup, or your hair needs help. Stash these items in a small bin in your car:
Along the same lines, keep a change of clothes for you and each of your kids at the ready in the car, too.
My friend Kimberli's daughter wears a uniform to school. And at least once a month, she will get ink, milk, or some other goodie on her uniform between home and the bus stop. No kidding! My friend packs an extra uniform just for that reason.
Don't forget the just-in-case clothes and accessories: umbrellas, rain ponchos, gloves and mufflers in the winter, walking shoes, sun hats and visors, and sunglasses in the summer.
We all know we need a first-aid kit at home when we have kids. But do you carry one in the car?
Since we spend so much time on the road with rambunctious kids, being prepared for minor overzealousness and medical mishaps is essential. (Not to mention the need for aspirin to treat the occasional headache caused by a long road trip with loud, active kids.)
Use whatever you have handy, such as an art supply box or a tackle box, to stash and store:
Here's what you need to keep the car, and the little passengers inside, moderately clean. Store these items in a small clear bin in the back of your car, but make sure it's easily accessible: