Top five tips for a successful road trip with toddlers

1. Rent an Airbnb or hotel with kitchenette
One thing that I can no longer do without is feeling at home even when traveling. The home essentials such as a kitchen and a washer and dryer are simply nonnegotiable for me now. Like most people we used to rent hotels whenever we would travel, but as soon as we had our daughter it became such a hassle with all the dirty laundry that would pile up or all the meals that she refused to eat out. When we realized she had many food allergies eating out was almost impossible. We then discovered Airbnb and we never looked back. The best thing about renting a property rather than a hotel is you can feel instantly at home when you arrive. In our last rental we found everything we had at home, all those little things that make a house a home. It’s not often that I will arrive at a rental property and not think of darn I forgot this or that, something small like a potato peeler or nightlight in the hallway for the kids. The things you don’t always think about packing but you feel grateful for when you have them. You can also do your laundry before leaving, which makes unpacking when you get home so much easier. One of our rentals even allowed us the use of RV resort center where they had a playpark and inside and outside pools, similarly some owners might have a building gym or sauna you can use free of charge. So with two kids under five it has just become too comfortable for us to rent a home rather than a hotel room. Not to mention the fact that the prices of Airbnb are comparable if not sometimes cheaper than a hotel.

2. Pack your own food
Because we rent vacation properties, we always pack our own food and save money. For our latest trip I marinated two different types of chicken a few nights before our departure and froze them. I also made breakfast muffins and healthy snacks for the road. We got a huge cooler where we put all our meat and chicken and all our snacks plus any veggies that I needed to cook. I pre-mixed all of my spices and brought them along. We just grabbed all the veggies, pasta, rice, etc., from our pantry and packed them in the cooler. Once we arrived to our location, we just bought the essentials such as milk, eggs, bread and any fresh fruit we liked. Breakfast and supper are always cooked at home and we sometimes grab a little snack or treat outside. We might order pizza for lunch one day and eat it until the next day.

This strategy has saved us at least a few hundred dollars because eating out 3 times a day with a family of 4 isn’t cheap. So do yourself a favor and prepare your meals in advance and pack and cook your own food, not only is it cheaper but it’s also healthier.

3. Bring your own entertainment
Ahhh the long drive with toddlers in the back of a packed truck make for amazing and noisy summer memories. I make sure to pack our own entertainment not only for those long hours in the car, but also for the lazy days at the house or during a rainy day when we are force to stay in. My daughter loves to read, so I make sure to bring hardcover books, coloring book, her iPad loaded with movies and games. I also packed large chalk for her to use outside whenever she is in the backyard. My little son on the other hand is another story, he couldn’t play with his trucks in the car so I charged an old cell phone and let him play with that. It’s a good idea to provide the kids with a few options for when they get tired of something.

4. Have a flexible itinerary
Any mother of small children knows the importance of a routine and regularly scheduled nap time. But that can be thrown out the window when we go on vacation. So what do we do? We just wing it, that’s right, we simply play it by ear and each day is different. We try to keep wake up and bed time pretty consistent but nap times will vary each day depending on what we’ve got going on. Sometimes the kids will nap in the car while we drive back and sometimes that’s good enough for them. Some days we come back home and have a proper nap time for the kids and adults as well. If a nap doesn’t happen, then we just have an earlier bedtime for that day. We expect our regular schedule to be disrupted and therefore we don’t stress during vacations… after all, vacations are meant to be a getaway from the routine and that includes schedule naps.

5. Pack according to your activities and weather
Often essential items that are available for purchase at tourist locations are overpriced and can add up pretty quickly. That is why I always pack according to the weather at the location and based on the activities we plan on doing. My husband often complains how I over pack but he is always grateful when we don’t need to buy extra jackets or swimming gear. Of course, I always over pack, I mean as a woman it’s hard not to want to pack your whole wardrobe but I always think it’s better to over pack than to under pack. At least that’s my excuse each time.

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