A few months ago, I posted an article with 12 toddler travel tips inspired by our first few summer road trips with the twins. In part, I was also ramping up for the big show — loading up the whole family for a week-long vacation up north. My four-year-old girl and twin 2-year-old boys were quick to teach me many more lessons about traveling with toddlers: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
So if you’re gearing up for a road trip with the little ones in tow, here are some things to keep in mind.
Loading the Car
We spent the weeks before the trip drawing up the battle plans. Our minivan is set up for twins so everyone has an assigned seat. The minivan got an oil change, wash, and vacuum. Half of the stuff we packed wasn’t for our actual vacation, it was for the drive there and back:
- Toys, books, games, and pocket-sized stuffed animals.
- Favorite movies on DVD for the built-in player.
- Cookies, fruit snacks, crackers, bite size muffins, and other snacks.
My nifty nabber tool, used to retrieve fallen toys and pass things to the back seat
Packing for the Kids
As an adult, packing for yourself is hard enough, but planning out a week-long trip for your kids can be brutal. They use so many things they use on a day-to-day basis! When you start to think about it, the gear really begins to pile up:
- Clothes, shoes, socks, hats, jackets, boots, and other things they wear. Make sure it fits!
- Eating & drinking utensils: bottles, nipples, and caps, sippy cups, or snack bowls.
- Diapers and wipes enough to last the whole trip, and then some.
- Sunscreen and insect repellent
- High chair covers, since we’ll probably be dining out with the kids a lot
Travel Cribs for Sleeping
One important consideration that we tried to plan for was the sleeping arrangements. We rented a hotel room on the way up and back, to help break up the drive. Hotels are kind of funny about baby cribs: sometimes you can reserve them, but they’re limited in number and not guaranteed. It’s almost like they don’t want babies staying in the hotel.
To address this, we bring our own pack-n-plays for the twins. They’re similar to a crib, quick to set up, and most importantly, we know where they’ve been. There are also good portable travel cribs that will give your baby a safe, clean place to sleep.
We also pack all of the little touches that make them feel like they’re going to bed at home:
- Blankets. I cringe at the idea of taking them on the road, but the kids love them.
- Music box. We have a couple of small, portable wind-up ones for a lullaby
- Night lights. Another small touch, and they can double as an outlet cover.
Babyproofing on Vacation
It’s wonderful to take your little ones out into the world and let them see new places. Unfortunately, most of those places aren’t babyproofed. Remember, too, that you’ll probably be out of your comfort zone — a rental house or unfamiliar hotel — and that increases the risk of bad things happening.
We bring some of our favorite babyproofing items with us, most notably door knob covers and a baby gate. These limit where the little ones can and can’t go, which (for us) is the most important safety precaution. We also bring life jackets whenever we’ll be going somewhere with a lake or pool.
Outlet covers, too, are a good idea because the world is just full of electrical outlets and my little ones never fail to pick up on that.
Most Importantly, When Traveling with Twins
Take pictures. Ride carousels. Point out airplanes and boats and big trucks. Eat at new places, especially ice cream parlors. Tip well because you’ll probably leave a mess behind. Don’t forget about naps; your kids will still need them.
And when they’re all safely asleep, enjoy a few moments of peace with your partner-in-parenting. You’ve earned it!