Our family has spent much of our summer with our butts parked in our minivan. We’ve driven to Cedar City, Utah; Reno, Nevada; Bridgeport, California, Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas, Nevada.
Before our travels this summer we had only been a few places with our toddler they included a few camping trips and some trips to San Diego. To say I was nervous is an understatement. Our toddler does not sleep well regularly, so I was not looking forward to the hours spent in the car and trying to make him sleep in new locations. Here are some tips I discovered on our journey.
1. Bring the food, all of it.
The first leg of our journey was a 7-hour drive to Utah. For some reason (boredom) while sitting in the car my kids want to eat and eat. We started our journey with apple slices and carrots. By the end, we were eating chips, jerky and gas station hot dogs.
2. Bring a barf bag.
Speaking of that hot dog. Bring the barf bag. Growing up I was the kid who ALWAYS puked in the car. This lovely attribute has been passed to my eldest. He will throw up at least once, every time. Without fail. On our way to Utah, I forgot the barf bag and we tested the durability of a reusable bag. It worked, but I wouldn’t recommend this. We got lucky. A plastic bag is your best bet.
3. Teach your children the beauty of boredom.
If you have a child who needs constant attention and entertainment, good luck! Sitting in the car is just boring. Sure, you can plan ahead and bring tons of movies. Maybe your car is equipped with them. We have none of this in our 2008 minivan. I brought a ton of coloring and books for the beginning of our trip, by the end my kids were content staring out the window and playing with a string from their pillow. Whatever works, bro.
4. Bring your medicine cabinet.
For some reason, an illness always occurs while traveling. It’s a lot like throw up. Inevitable. So, bring all your meds. Some for you, some for the kids. Just bring them all.
5. Don’t expect any sleep.
Our first evening in Utah I had to sleep with my toddler. The next night he did okay by himself, but we still shared a bed. With each new location, I would sleep with him the first night to ensure his comfort. On the following nights he would usually go to sleep, but often we were sharing the bed anyway. Have ya slept with a toddler? It’s like sleeping with an octopus, I would imagine. They are everywhere. Forget about any dreams you had of sleeping in as well. Once the sun is up, so are your kids.
6. Your kids will be cranky.
Just expect it. There are a few reasons for this. First, they’re exhausted, see above. Second, all of the activities of vacation will run them ragged and naps become optional between all the fun. It’s just a recipe for disaster.
7. TV and junk food are your friends.
It’s vacation, just embrace this.
8. Nothing will go according to plan.
As the Lampoon’s discovered with every family vacation, nothing will go according to plan. We went to three different lakes. At each one, a kayak or canoe was promised. It never happened. In the middle of our journey, the minivan needed new brakes. Fortunately, no flat tire this time, but you just never know. There were accidents and roadblocks. We would plan certain times for arrival, sometimes they were accurate, sometimes not. It is great to have an itinerary and I would highly recommend one, but don’t freak out if your plan is thwarted. Go with the flow as much as possible. It is a vacation after all.
9. Vacation with kids is about adventure, not rest.
Maybe on your vacations before kids, you would arrive at the beach, drink in hand and just relax. This is not how kids operate. Not at all. They want to run, explore, build, discover and fall head first into the water. Rather than fighting this, just embrace the fun. Instead of trying to relax I build sand castles with my kids and swim. Yes, it’s exhausting, especially after no sleep, but I’m pretty sure this gives them positive memories of family time. At least, I hope so.
10. Bring sunscreen!
Pack it in your car and every bag. Thanks to Influenster I was gifted with free sunscreen from La Roche-Posay and I’m happy to report with all of our lake time, traveling, hiking and mini golf high in the mountains no one was sunburned! For us, this is a miracle. On our last trip to Colorado, I was burnt to a crisp and I try to avoid this at all costs. It’s so uncomfortable to have a sunburn and especially terrible when your children have them. I applied the sunscreen at all outside times. With the face sunscreen, I have also come home with clearer skin than before. My husband noticed this and was shocked. It made me so happy!
Traveling with family is usually fun and rewarding. I am thankful we have had so many adventures this summer! Fortunately, all our incidents were minor and I’ve obtained hundreds of Instagram-worthy photos. That’s what really matters. Right?!
Disclaimer: I was given a free sample of La Roche-Posay sunscreen via Influenster for my honest opinion. Little Passports is an affiliate link and I may receive a portion of your sales. Read more on out disclosure page.