Last week I disclosed some of my favorite travel entertainment. Did any of you watch the Kent Hovind videos I linked to?
What did you think?
This week I want to share some things we keep in the van, and take with us that have made life much easier in our travels.
1) First on my list for long trips with small children is a Hassock. Everybody should have a Hassock if they have room in their vehicle!
A bucket with seat and lid, to use as a potty-on-the-go.
We keep ours filled with kitty litter, trash bags, a scoop, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer.
When we want to keep from trooping all the toddlers through a truck stop bathroom, we remove the lid, put two or three scoops kitty litter into a bag, place the seat over that, and when they're done, chuck the bag into the nearest trash can. Viola!
2) A Cup Tote.
This is a very nifty tote I found that has a handle and four compartments perfect for holding cups or water bottles.
I found mine at a hobby/craft store.
This tote holds cups designated to the sole purpose of travel and outings. It goes with us everywhere, and back into the house when we get home so we can refill the cups before we leave again.
I also love my tote because it doubles as a diaper bag in a pinch.
It has a middle compartment perfect for holding four diapers and the wipe box, PLUS some little pockets on the side perfect for the car keys, or lip balm!
3) A couple "one size fits several" pair of emergency clothing.
I keep a basket (duffel or Rubbermaid bin) in the car with a first aid kit, a box of wipes, diapers in several sizes, and two pair of cheap sweats for an emergency leak-through or mud wipe-out.
You can usually find sweat pants and shirts sold individually at Target or Wally World for under 4 dollars apiece.
I bought two pants and two shirts that are sizes any of the children could fin into if need be.
The nice thing about sweats is that the elastic in the cuffs keep them up on a tiny person, so buy big.
I've only needed these a couple times in the last few years, but I had to learn this lesson the hard way, and it's been worth the 12 bucks I spent to haul them around in the car everywhere we go - and if you have a little spitter, you may want to put in a clean shirt for yourself:-)
Bless my husband for this life-saving idea!
4) I found some great seat protectors at Target which are for underneath car seats and boosters.
Besides the 5 stars I give them for practicality, I think they look nice too.
5) In the car also stays:
- One receiving blanket (which I frequently use for nursing, and has a dozen other uses)
- A couple towels on the seats to protect them (and because they too, have multiple uses).
- A water bottle or two - depending on their size and how much space you have for extra things. You know how lovely it is to have children wailing because they are about to die of thirst! NO THANKS!
- A head lamp for finding things or buckling an elusive seat belt in the dark. You can find headlamps (flashlights on an elastic headband) everywhere these days, but our favorites are from REI.
6) Other things I like to take on a long trip - though not necessary:
- Hot Wheels. (I think Faith suggested this too!)
- Note pad and clicker pencil for (more trustworthy children:-))
- Board books
- Everyone likes to have their own pillow. My sister in law Hannah, made "car pillows" for her children which were quite a bit smaller than the standard bed pillow, and she used fun novelty fabric unique to each child. I thought that was a brilliant idea!
We only eat in the car of there is a blizzard outside or something worse. We made a "no eating in the car" rule to preserve our sanity.
I'm thankful we did too, because I've found lots of trash under seats and I'm unspeakably glad it didn't include moldy food, and sticky stuff attached to the upholstery!
However we DO eat on the road, and here's what I often pack:
Mini cinnamon bagels, hard boiled eggs, banana's, grapes, and granola bars.
String cheese, salami, Ritz crackers, carrot sticks, and sometimes a gallon zip lock with other cut veggies or fruit. Whatever of those things that are easy to hold, and not terrible to clean off of little hands - I don't think cut melon and juicy peach slices qualify!
Raw Almonds and dried cranberries are a hit with all (add chocolate chips to that for the eh-hem... adults.)
Oh. And Daddy Bug loves Tim's Jalapeno Potato Chips. (Can't buy them out here though, so stock up while you're on the West Coast!)
8) As a last note, each of our children have their own back pack to keep their "stuff" in when we travel.
I require that they make sure it's all put back in there (where I can't see it) when we stop for breaks.
I can't tell you how to enforce this one.
I haven't figured that part out yet.
I usually don't find out if someone was lazy until two or three days later when I'm cleaning out the car.
I also haven't done a bag check before trips the last few times, and I can tell you that I shudder and look away when I see children entering the van with a backpack about to burst at the seams - only do that at your own risk and possibly to your own later chagrin! ;-)
Turning the subject away from what-to-pack-int- your-car in addition to the million-other-things-a-growing-family-would-be-traveling -with...
I was asked how to travel with an infant and would like to comment on that.
Traveling with a baby brings it's own set of puzzles. You have to be really flexible since you have to stop more often (and I know I'm preaching to choir), but there are a few things I've learned from experience.
1) The first baby is the hardest, but after you get that one to travel, he/she sets the tone for all the rest of the children. REALLY!
2) Meet all the baby's foreseeable needs before buckling him into his car seat.
After that (unless you can tell it's the un-faked "I'm about to die" cry - and I hope you are good at determining this, because all the babies I know try the fake version of this cry at least once, and if they are successful at getting your attention and sympathy, you'll have a doozy of a time on the next stretch of road. And the stretch after that... and so on!)...
As I was saying; After that, let baby cry some.
Unfortunately, car seats are awfully uncomfortable - have you ever sat in a five point harness for ten hours? - but he has to sit in is, so he might as well resign himself to the reality of the fact.
I have found that baby adjusts when he figures out the program.
Please, please, PLEASE heed my advice to stop the car every so often BEFORE everyone is at their wits end!
You will gain some friends, and their confidence that you don't wait to pull over until they have driven you crazy!
Either you train them, or they train you.
We attempt to make rest stops occasionally at places like a Bass Pro, or mall, where we can all get out and stretch our legs while looking at something the children can enjoy.
I don't bribe the children, but I keep Tic-Tacs in my purse as morale boosters, and thanks for good attitudes:-)
AJ (my husband) works quite a bit when we drive, and has to be on the phone quite a bit sometimes.
This is probably the HARDEST time of all, because it is necessary and required of the children not to talk at all during that time.
Like anything else it's hit and miss in regards to our success, but over all, we have a lot of fun traveling together - yes FUN!
We are all stuck in the car together, and it's a great chance to behave our best when we feel like it the least. We enjoy a lot of laughs together - made possible not by all our "secret weapons" and tools, but most of all by good attitudes.
And we know where those good attitudes start, don't we mom?!
I hope after wading through this lengthy post, you have some new tools to add to your bag of tricks:-)