7 Tips for Traveling with Littles. {Road Trip Edition}

This past summer after traveling across the country with my three kids and my aunt I had lots and lots of people ask me how, why and what made it possible. “What are your secrets?” a fellow blogger said at an event a few weeks after returning. I promised a post on my secrets to road trip success and as my little girls and I are headed on a road trip and long weekend to Chicago this morning, I figured it apropos.
1. Screw the schedule. I am the worst when it comes to schedules. Part of that is necessity {hello, we have five kids} and part of that is my free spirit. I am all about having a loose schedule that is more of a daily routine than anything else. If you don’t live and die by a schedule for your kid, I really think travel is a lot easier. The way we framed schedules for our babes was always around US, the adults. We followed routines and tried to keep bedtime scheduled as much as we could but aside from that there was no set timing for meals and naps, it was how it fit in the day that day. Maybe lunch is typically around 11, or maybe if we’re running errands we don’t eat until 12. My goal for my kids is that they are flexible and adaptable kids, not kids who are thrown off by a missed nap or a later lunch than normal. I understand that this doesn’t work for everyone, but it worked for us and really is probably the biggest reason travel works so well for us.
2. Do it early and do it often. My grandma always says, “Samara takes those babies everywhere.” Why, yes, I do. When my grandma had her six babies, she got a nice long week vacation in the hospital, in 2006 when I had H, they kicked us out after 24 hours and 5 minutes. Having a baby did not keep us home though because when I had H, we also had T and M who were active, busy school agers, so H just came along. And then when we had E, we did the same and Miss F, her whole life has been that way.  Don’t stop living life and going places because you have a baby. I think when you have an infant it’s actually super easy to bring them along places, it’s once they get mobile it gets harder. We went away with H for the first time when he was just over a month old and he flew at just 8 weeks old. We crazily brought Miss F to Chicago on a whirlwind trip at 8 weeks old too. Do it early, do it often and your kids will adapt to car rides or flights and sleeping in pack and plays and such.

3. Let it go. We all want our kids to eat healthy snacks but I admit when we travel that’s one of the first things to go. Special treats and snacks are a welcome assistant. Buy things you maybe wouldn’t normally buy and let the food rules go out the window just a stitch.

4. Same goes with screen time. Both H and E have iPods with pretty strict limits when we are at home. When we are on a road trip, all bets are off and unless there is a behavior reason {i.e. we took it away} we let them play games, watch shows and listen to music. I promise it’s not going to have lasting long term effects because you let your child binge watch Dora the Explorer for a long car ride.

5. But what about the baby? I am pretty strict about screen time when it comes to Miss F because I agree with the AAP that screen time should be limited prior to age 2 so she wasn’t playing an iPod or watching shows on our long road trip to Virginia Beach last summer. Even now at 17 months she might watch 15-20 minutes of a PBS Kids episode here and there so I don’t know that electronics would even pacify her attention span in the car. That said, I did bring an old deactivated cell phone of J’s that could be turned on and off and still had pictures saved on it that Miss F played with {and dropped on the floor 150 times!}. For the most part, instead of electronics for her, I packed a few miscellaneous things for her to play with.


Aside from the old cell phone, books and snacks, these three items were the only entertainment we brought for Miss F on our 24 hour road trip to Virginia Beach.

Lacers which are good for fine motor skills, an old wallet filled with old gift cards and business cards for her to rip apart to shreds because what baby doesn’t love to think they are destroying mom’s goods. This is one of those case’s where WE create our kids expectations, Miss F already spends time in her carseat every day with little to no entertainment besides looking out the window or her siblings, because that’s how it is most days, a road trip wasn’t that much bigger of a deal, it was just a longer amount of time. If your child spends little to no time in their carseat each week because you never leave home, this might be hard. Finally, we also just worked around her. When she slept, we kept driving, when she was getting antsy to get out, we stopped and had lunch.

6. Organize, organize, organize. Plan ahead, know where you have what you need and stay organized. Are the snacks accessible? If someone spills or gets sticky do you have wet wipes? Did everyone go to the bathroom before getting in the car and at each stop? These are the key to staying calm when traveling. Anticipate boredom, bring coloring books and crayons, have your kids pick out a new reading book at the store or library. Think of  that thing that your kid would be thrilled to get to play with or see several hours into the trip and SAVE it for that desperate moment. Keep a few surprises up your sleeves. Involve them in the packing {note, I said involve, do not under any circumstances let them pack!}

Brainerd bound with this bunch! #tradition

Road trip with friends this summer.

7. Be Positive. The more negative and stressed YOU are about the trip and the travel, the more your kids are going to make you crazy. I promise. Assume your kids are going to make a mess in the back and that even though you give them a trash they will still throw their GoGoSqueez wrapper on the floor. Make it an adventure, make it fun. Stop and look around at rest stops and buy that special treat you would usually say no to. Don’t be afraid, create fun new memories and establish what your “normal” travel expectations would look like. Most of all, enjoy. It’s work but it’s fun.

Are you a traveling family? What works {or doesn’t work} for you? Any tips you would add?

Have you tried Citrus Lane?

Monthly subscription boxes are all the rage these days and I was really excited to hear from a friend just how much she liked her one year olds Citrus Lake subscription.
UntitledSo we had to try it out. I am not a big toy person, for five kids in our house we are pretty minimalist when it comes to toys. I just believe kids don’t need a lot of toys to play with so I was hoping the box would be fun, unique, special things versus just more “stuff”.

You specify age and gender and they do the rest.

We did just a one month trial just to try it out and determine if it would be something we’d want to do for a gift for Miss F or even friends. You get to specify age and gender and you can sign up for just one month or three months or even six months. Because your first month is half off, it was $14.50 to try it out.

Here’s what we got….

UntitledMaracas. A baby doll. Legwarmers and a detergent sample.

It was ok. Not great but not terrible, you know?

That said they are kind of the perfect items for a one year old {aside from the detergent sample} though I’ll probably save the leg warmers and doll for a gift because we need another baby doll like we need a ….

I’m planning on trying it again, as the friend who referred me has really liked the ones she got. I also think it’d be a neat gift idea for a loved one far away, it’s super convenient to sign up and have the gift sent once or even on a monthly basis.
Have you tried Citrus Lane? What monthly subscription programs have you tried?

If you sign up with my link, your first month is half off. If you do it, let me know what your child gets when your box comes.

 Disclosure: Affiliate links were used in this post. This means if you make a purchase after clicking on the links, I will be awarded referral dollars.

On Choosing Your Own Adventure.

Fall is my favorite. I love summer, don’t get me wrong. I love the lack of structure and schedule and the pool and the sunshine and the beauty of a park day. But I really love fall. When routines start again and the leaves change and the air is warm in the afternoon and cool […]

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Lark Toys in Kellogg

Just before school started we took the kids on a little adventure to Lark Toys in Kellogg. I admit I was a stitch skeptical of the idea thinking what in the world will we do at a toy store? And it’s how far away? But alas it was a great time. All of our kids […]

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On Serving Well.


This morning we sat gathered with friends and family and people we don’t even know, who knew my father in law, to remember his sweet 83 year old life. My father in law passed away 10 days ago now and life has been such a whirl with details and planning and too much pneumonia in […]

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It’s Going to be a very Frozen Halloween. {GIVEAWAY!}


If I were a betting woman I would bet that there are going to be just a few Anna’s and Elsa’s and Olaf’s trick or treating this Halloween, wouldn’t you agree? The trouble is finding all the right costumes, accessories. EVERYTHING. Am I right or am I right? Thanks to the help of friends and […]

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Five Reasons to go see Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day This Weekend! {Review}


Two of my littles and I went and saw Disney’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day on Tuesday night and it was a hit. We are already planning on taking J to see it and can be sure it will be a family hit! Here’s five reasons we think you should […]

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threeletterbirds Giveaway


Few things make me more excited that seeing people find a passion, whether that passion is to create or write or travel or whatever it is, seeing the spark of creativity and excitement about life and what they are doing is so exciting for me. It has been really fun to see my friend from […]

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Busytown the Musical at Children’s Theatre Company


Miss E and I were able to attend Busytown the Musical at the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis last weekend! Busytown The Musical is based on the Richard Scarry book, What Do People Do All Day and was adapted for the stage by Kevin Kling. Synopsis: Huckle the Cat’s curiosity drives the story of Busytown the […]

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