It takes patience and sense of humor to make road tripping and hotel stays with babies and preschoolers enjoyable. In the past, traveling as a family to a one-bedroom hotel room meant that I would wake up if anyone was crying in the middle of the night. I’m not sure how my husband does it, but he manages to sleep through just about everything. Being exhausted and frustrated is not an ideal way to spend a vacation so I’ve gathered a few tips that make road-tripping and hotel stays with our little ones easier, just in time for the summer travel season.
Snacks for the Car::
We keep a small cooler of snacks within arms’ reach, because even if we’ve just stopped for breakfast, lunch or dinner, we always have one child who is ready for a snack about 15 minutes after every meal. We save ourselves from frustration by accepting it as a part of the fun and being prepared. Apple slices, bananas, individual portions of trail mix and cheese sticks all pack well and can help keep our “hangry” kiddos at bay. Packing healthy snacks instead of being persuaded into buying junk at the gas station helps keep our girls from bouncing off the walls from candy-induced sugar rushes.
Pack an Extra Bag::
We pack one bag of extra clothes, wipes and diapers to be prepared for big spills or a diaper blowout. There’s a lot to be said for having one small bag handy instead of unpacking and repacking the car to reach the buried suitcases and a change of clothes.
My husband and I never pack a suitcase without adding this $20 miracle along for our trip: the HoMedics portable sound machine. Not only does it help block out our own families’ noises, including my girls’ inevitable crying, or my husband’s snoring, but it also blocks out random hotel noises or even thunderstorms. We also keep the SleepStream app on our phones and iPad as a back up, but I prefer the portable machine, since it’s louder.
Pack & Play::
This might not earn me Mother of the Year to admit it, but if there’s space, we set up our Pack & Play in the closet of the hotel room. Our baby is used to having a dark and quiet room and this kind of separation helps us all sleep better.
I discovered California Baby’s “Overtired and Cranky” spray at Target after our first daughter was born and, over the years, I have found that it is often “out of stock,” so I rely on Amazon for this gem. I keep one packed in the suitcase and one in our car. When one of my girls becomes overtired and cranky this soothing lavender aromatherapy works wonders on everyone, including mom and dad.
Keeping our nighttime routine in place while vacationing certainly helps our family. Bedtime baths, reading familiar books, bringing special blankets and a travel companion, like our 4-year-old’s favorite “Lambie,” helps our girls find comfort in unfamiliar locations.
If we know we’ll arrive at our destination after bedtime, we preemptively dress our girls in their pajamas. It eliminates waking them up upon arrival and starting the bedtime routine with groggy and grumpy kiddos. Then we practice our ninja skills to place them in bed without making a sound.
I hope you find these tips help create happy summer travel memories for you and your family.