Our (Screen-Free!) Road Trip with Toddlers

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On Sunday night, we got back from a road trip to see our best friends who moved allllll the way from Philadelphia to the Pittsburgh area. We had been planning this trip for months, and it was absolutely the most relaxing, amazing weekend of hanging out with them. They drove to us last summer (here's our hilarious group selfies) so it was our turn to visit them!! (Later this week I'll share a few snapshots from our trip.)

While it's fresh in my mind, I have to share what went well with doing a 5 hour drive (each way) with a one-year-old and a three-year-old. This road trip was good practice for us, because we'll be doing the 13 hour drive from Philly to Nashville to see my sister graduate college in May!

Before we left, I went to Five Below for small toys and coloring books for the drive there, and I tried to pack snacks the kids like that would be easy to eat in the car. Aiden is super reliably potty-trained, and Emma's still in diapers, so we've got one foot in both camps haha. It was actually a little easier to only have to take one toddler in to rest stop bathrooms, but I'm sure it's doable with 2 potty-trained toddlers, too. It's probably worth mentioning that we didn't bring any screens (tablets, videos on our phones, etc.) for the kids. I totally get why people do (hello, Aiden did NOT stop talking for 4 hours straight), but we don't have a working tablet and weren't going to buy one for the trip. It's totally possible to do long car rides without screens!

What we brought on our screen-free roadtrip with two toddlers: 
  1. Small whiteboard + dry erase marker
  2. Rubber dinosaur, Lego guys, etc.
  3. Crayola color-wonder paper, markers, stamps + travel case
  4. Paint-with-water books by Melissa & Doug
  5. New coloring book + crayons
  6. New stuffed animal (for Emma the 1-year-old)
  7. A book of stickers (also for Emma)
  8. 1 squishy rubber ball that lit up for each of them
  9. A bag full of Aiden's toys that he selected to bring
  10. 2 big bags of Goldfish
  11. 8 applesauce pouches
  12. Pringles (yay for chips in a sturdy container that won't get crushed!) 
  13. Individual bags of peanut butter crackers
  14. Non-spill water bottles for each kid (Aiden's was nearly empty on purpose so he wouldn't chug it all and have to pee every 5 minutes)
  15. Barf bags a.k.a. a tupperware container with a lid that we WERE using to hold our sandwiches but gave to Aiden in case he puked (poor guy got car sick on the winding country highways)

Other tips for roadtripping with the kids: 
  1. Leave when they will probably sleep. This trip was only 5 hours, so we left around naptime. They did sleep for 1-2 hours at the beginning of the trip! On our 13-hour trip to Nashville, we're going to try leaving at bedtime and driving all night. (Lol please pray for us.)
  2. Bring new (to them), inexpensive, small toys: hit up the dollar section of Target, Five Below, the dollar store, etc. Get a few small things the kids can play with. For Aiden, I found a small rubber dinosaur that entertained him for so long! 
  3. Have older toddlers pack a small bag of their own toys. I let Aiden run around the house picking out toys, and he brought a the MOST random things: one mitten, 2 pieces to a game, 3 pretend tools, pieces to his plastic pirate ship toy, a few balls, etc. Then, when we were in the car, he could pick toys from the bag to play with. 
  4. Slowly introduce the new toys. When he eventually got bored of all his toys, I would give him one new thing at a time. This lasted for so long that we had plenty of new things to give him on the ride home!
  5. Bring easy-to-pack coloring things. I bought brand new coloring books, new paint-with-water books, a small whiteboard + marker, and also brought his Crayola Color Wonder coloring stuff. The whiteboard especially kept Aiden entertained for SO long, and I didn't care if he accidentally drew on his hands/car seat/etc. He was happy, we were happy. 
  6. For younger toddlers, entertain with new, random objects.  Let stickers, a new stuffed animal, a new squishy ball, etc. entertain. Emma is so young that she doesn't color much, so I alternated giving her snacks with handing her something new. Plus, how cute are those succulent stickers?! I didn't even mind that they were all over her, her seat, the alpaca!
  7. For potty-training kids, buy this. Aiden hasn't had an accident in months, but we still only gave him a little bit to drink while we were driving. And ever since beginning to potty-train him, he's been sitting on this $10 car seat mat that protects his carseat. If he did happen to pee, it would absorb it, keep his seat totally dry, and make clean-up super easy. 

Are you a road-trip fan? What's the farthest you've driven? Did you take road trips as a kid? 

**If you're taking a trip to Philly, here are some fun things to do with kids

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