If you’re one of many families who cancelled Thanksgiving travel for a cozy, small-scale feast instead, we salute you (and simultaneously feel your pain). One way to conquer the coronavirus blues is to trade plane trips for car rides and enjoy a safer getaway closer to home. Whether it’s an RV camping trip with your pandemic pod or a post-holiday break with your immediate crew, winter travel will look and feel very different this year.
2020 epitomized the road less traveled, but it’s never too early to start planning your next getaway (2021, we have high hopes for you!). Even a day trip to a nearby town will do wonders to rejuvenate your family’s spirit and routine. When you’re ready, here are some tips to make future road trips easier with babies and kids on board.
Tackle Snack Attacks
Toddlers are notorious for being incessant snackers (and really, can we blame them?). Expect them to request snacks at least twice as often on the road to keep hunger and boredom at bay. A hangry child does not make for a fun travel buddy, so come prepared with plenty of healthy treats for both the drive and destination. Fill some handy Snack Catchers with the kids’ favorite eats and don’t forget a cooler box to stash fruit, yogurt and drinks (they’re perfect for traveling with pumped breast milk or regular milk too). Keep little ones well hydrated with water in their favorite sippy cups. And if you’re a fellow member of the coffee all day club, keep yourself caffeinated with an insulated travel mug that keeps beverages blissfully warm for the duration of the drive.
Upgrade Your Car Safety Essentials
Traveling or not, every car needs a good first aid kit stowed away in the trunk at all times. Given the circumstances of this year, we recommend adding disposable gloves, hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, and extra face masks to your car essentials list (In my family, we’re fond of the breathable masks from Athleta and Old Navy, which come in both kid and adult sizes). For families with babies or young kids, the 59S Mini Sterilizer is a must-have for on the go safety, especially these days. This small but mighty sterilizer kills 99.99% of bacteria and viruses (including some coronavirus strains) using hospital-grade UV light and is perfect for pacifiers, bottle nipples and everything else babies love to drop on the ground.
Keep Them Entertained
One way to keep your brood engaged on the road is to listen to a family-friendly audiobook. Everyone enjoys getting lost in a good story – even the reluctant grade schooler who claims otherwise! We also love the idea of giving each child his or her own disposable camera to capture the landscape and document the journey through their own eyes. Not only will that teach them perspective and storytelling, it will be a great lesson in patience if you opt for a single-use camera that requires developing (a novel concept in the age of instant gratification and smartphone pics!).
Fully Equip Your Ride
If you’re road tripping with a baby or toddler, you can count diaper duty as part of your itinerary, no matter how long the drive. The portable Out-N-About™ Trunk Organizer and Changing Station makes traveling with kids much easier – it’s a one-stop diapering station with changing pad, wipes case, and disposable bags at the ready. The Toss™ Disposable Diaper Pail is another good one to have in your automotive bag of tricks. Freestanding and foldable, it holds up to 30 newborn diapers and keeps odors contained (an absolute must for long drives).
For toddlers and older kids, keep the ride cozy and comfortable to minimize the inevitable “Are we there yet?” chorus. Bring along their favorite stuffed animals, plush blankets, even slippers – think of the car as a home away from home. A good set of car shades goes a long way in keeping your precious cargo protected from the sun’s glaring ways. We love the Go Play Travel Mat for when you need to stop and stretch your legs – it’s the perfect clean surface for a park or beach setting, and super easy to wipe down when done. We also recommend investing in a backseat trash bag or bin, plus a multi-device car charger so you’re never without battery in the event of an emergency.
A change of scenery is a known antidote to stress – something we all feel too much of these days. If you plan to hit the road for some much-needed (but socially distant!) R&R, don’t forget the sanitizer and the golden rules of pandemic safety: wash your hands, keep your distance, and wear a mask. Safe travels to you — whenever it may be.