I’d consider our family to be road warriors. Both my husband and I’s parents (and other family members) are located a couple hours away in opposite directions and we are accustomed to lots of trips in the car. When we get ready for a trip, my husband (T) and I have things down to a science: I pack the bags (one for our 2.5 year old son Bryce, one for our dog and one for myself. My husband packs his own), along with other items like a stroller, gifts, dishes of food or casseroles we might be bringing along, etc. T is in charge of loading all the cargo/luggage into the car.
Needless to say, we’ve learned how to pack for road trips and have become quite accustomed on what essentials we know we need to bring along. And let me tell you, despite the crazy amount of gear and supplies that kids use on a daily basis, it IS possible to travel light. Call it the minimalist in me, but I find it freeing to pack light and not be weighed down by excess stuff. And that’s what minimalism is- using only what you need and setting aside the rest, right?
With the holidays around the corner, we will be hitting the road quite a bit more than usual, so I wanted to share my tips for traveling light with a toddler in tow in hopes that it will help you when it comes time to drive home for the holidays.
Pack kid-friendly snacks & keep essentials handy.
I always have a stash of healthy snacks on hand. Some of my go-tos are crackers or dry cereal in a no spill cup, bananas, raisins and apple sauce pouches. All things that Bryce can eat on his own. I also pack one of our no-spill sippy cups with water, although I try to limit fluids during trips so avoid any potty accidents! I also keep my diaper bag in the front seat with me, which has all the essentials within easy reach so we don’t have to rummage through our luggage. This includes a spare change of clothes, activities like books and markers/paper, and of course wipes—perfect for cleaning up sticky fingers, dirty paws, you name it.
Limit the toys.
Depending on the trip, we might bring along our Amazon tablet so Bryce can watch a few shows, but we typically save that if he wakes up early in the morning so he is occupied and doesn’t wake up anyone else in the house. They also work well during car rides. But if you aren’t a fan of screen time, there are plenty of things you can do to keep them entertained. We love renting CDs from the library and singing along (Raffi is a favorite over here). I plan to get some children’s audiobooks to try on our upcoming trips since Bryce is older and has more of an attention span for it. We also love to play a good game of I Spy and point out all the different trucks along the way. I usually let Bryce pick out 1 or 2 of his favorite books to bring along that we read at nap and bedtime to help him relax and maintain our routine. Other than that, once we are there I don’t bring many toys if any. He runs around, explores and has fun with our family- whether it’s spending time outside, having fun with pots and pans in the kitchen or building a pillow fort with his aunt and uncle. (In full disclosure, both sides of our family have plenty of toys for Bryce there, so no need to duplicate!)
Pick a color scheme for clothes.
It’s easy to overpack clothes, especially for kids. They get messy. Accidents happen. But you can avoid packing clothes that won’t get used by only bringing items that can be mixed and matched, within the same color scheme. That way, if a shirt or a pair of pants gets dirty, there’s no need to change the entire outfit- just grab what you need and know that it will all go together. In fact, my son’s entire wardrobe is built to be mixed and matched. Check out the post here. (FYI- this concept works great for adults, too. It reduces the number of shoes and accessories you bring along. The more items can be reused from one day to the next, the less you need to cart along with you!)
Multipurpose with toiletries.
Toiletries can take up a lot of space, especially if each family member has an array of items. We save a ton of space with all-in-one soap like Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap. It can be used for body wash, shampoo, shaving cream, laundry, dishes, face wash…you name it. Plus, it’s natural and safe enough for babies. We also make sure we aren’t packing duplicate items- for example, just one of us will bring along a tube of toothpaste that we can all share. I also streamlined my makeup products so it makes packing easy: check out the post here.
Pack the right gear for kids.
There’s no way to get around it- kids do need some gear to make life easier. While we don’t need to bring all the things we typically use at home, there are a few pieces of gear we don’t leave home without that makes life easier.
When Bryce was little, we would pack along his trusty Graco pack n’ play for naps/bedtime. Now that he is bigger, we just use one of the beds and bring along a bed rail or use strategically placed pillows as a guard of sorts. We also bring along a potty chair or insert for the toilet so Bryce is able to use the bathroom without any issues.
And besides the obvious car seat (convertible option here too), the other item we always bring is a stroller. It’s always nice to have when we want to take a walk through the neighborhood, head to a playground or explore shops around the town. We have the Breaze Click Connect Stroller from Graco, and it is perfect for traveling. It’s lightweight and easy to carry with one hand, yet has an incredibly sturdy frame. It also takes just one hand to fold and collapses down really small so it’s easy to transport in the car versus our big, bulky (heavy) jogging stroller.
We opted for this stroller because it is definitely a higher quality than the cheap umbrella strollers out there. It connects with Graco car seats easily and is multi-position and includes a reclining seat too. Plus, it holds a child up to 50 pounds, which gives the product a long life of use as Bryce continues to grow. (Based on the other umbrella strollers I researched, this one has one of the highest weight limits.) Beyond that, there is a generous canopy with UV 50 protection and pop-out visor, extra large and easy access storage basket and a parent cup holder. It maneuvers really well and Bryce is really comfortable in it too.
Best yet, Graco is having a 20% off sale sitewide with code FRIENDS. The 20% off your entire purchase starts 11/4/17 and ends 11/21/17*. So take advantage of this great offer and invest in some quality gear for your little! Shop the sale here >>>
What travel tips do you have? Post it in the comments!
This post is sponsored by Graco and Shopstyle.
*Use the code “FRIENDS” at checkout and receive 20% OFF your entire purchase. Offer valid November 4, 2017 until 11:59pm EST November 21, 2017 and only at www.gracobaby.com. Offer cannot be applied to telephone orders or redeemed for cash. Products shown on www.gracobaby.com but not sold through www.gracobaby.com are excluded from this offer. Graco reserves the right to limit quantities. Offer cannot be combined with other offers. No rain checks. Offer good while supplies last.