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A few weeks ago, I took a Midwest road trip with my 4 kids. I drove from New York to Wisconsin and back in 5 days. Everyone swore I was crazy for taking the trip as the only driver with a car full of kids. I’m used to long distance driving, so it wasn’t too big of a deal. Besides, I knew it would mean a lot for my oldest. We’ve had a pretty tough year and they have some friends they’ve made on the internet that have been very supportive in my child’s journey.
The one thing I didn’t do was take the weather into account. Next time, I’ll check for the weather in each state we’re going to. Since it was late March for us in NY, we’re getting weather on average of 50 to 60 degrees. Let me just say this, the Midwest is super freakin cold!! I absolutely hate the cold and never want to live in a cold place again. Hell, I’m ready to leave NY for good and that’s one of the main reasons. But I digress…
My goal was to stop for meals, gas and bathroom breaks, but otherwise drive as far as I could before stopping in a hotel. I stayed in only 4 star hotels and up. I realized most places outside of NYC give military discounts. I was able to get discounts on each hotel I stayed at. Call me spoiled or whatever, but I wanted to ensure cleanliness.
We made stops to meet my kid’s friends in Ohio, Chicago and Wisconsin. We met in public places and kept social distancing. I was traveling with kids who are almost 15, 12, 5 and 2. I expected my toddler to turn all the way up and make the trip challenging. Surprisingly, he did great! They all did! However, I was also prepared with some things that made the trip much easier. Here are some things I made sure I was prepared with:
Fire Tablet: This helped tremendously for the trip. I went on Netflix and downloaded a couple of kids movies for my toddler and 5 year old to watch on the longer parts of the trip. I didn’t hand them the tablet until we’d been on the road a little while, or if they were starting the get antsy.
Car Garbage Container: The amount of trash that can accumulate on a road trip is outrageous! I hung this from the back of the driver’s seat and passenger seat. Every time I stopped to get gas or food, we dumped it in the trash can. Before we set out in the mornings, we made sure they were emptied too. Made a huge difference in how messy the car was at the end.
Blankets or Throws: It was ridiculously cold in Chicago! That wind is just disrespectful! Actually, all throughout the Midwest. Every time I put the heat on, it would either fog the windows, or the kids would complain that one was cold and the others were hot. So this was a great medium, plus it didn’t burn my gas. And when you’re driving distance, you don’t want it to get too warm where you start getting drowsy.
Food Cooler: Snacks! I can’t stress this enough. Having snacks for the road will make an incredible difference! If your kids get like mine, and get hangry when they’re hungry, having some foods and snacks on the ready will help ease your nerves and keep them happy.
Water Bottles: This was another convenience for us while riding. Sometimes the kids get thirsty along the way and instead of stopping so often, this is super helpful. Plus, it cuts down on having to buy drinks when we stop for food, and it saved on space in the back with the kids. Bonus: There were no spillage accidents with these water bottles.
Baby Wipes: These are an absolute necessity! Baby wipes are like magic. They get almost everything out of anywhere. They clean kid’s messy faces and hands as well, and we all know how grubby kids can get.
Headphones: Trust me, you’re going to want this on the ride! If you have a toddler that watches Blippi like mine does, this will keep you from losing your marbles on the trip. For my family, I have an Autistic child that can go into sensory overload fairly quickly. These headphones are wonderful for him to block out some of the sound and calm down.
USB Charger: You’ll need this for the ride. If the kids have any of their electrical devices, and you have your cell phone, this will be needed!
First Aid Kit: Don’t leave on a road trip without it! Kids can get all kinds of little scrapes and boo-boo’s. You want to be prepared for any minor injuries along the way. You never know when you’ll need the first aid kit as well.
Travel Apps: The apps Roadtrippers and Booking helped us a lot along the trip. Roadtrippers is great for helping you plan the trip and even gives you a mileage amount and a gas estimate. Booking helps find hotels along the route. It gives you the star rating of the hotel and you can reserve your room ahead of time.
Overall, this trip was great! The kids did a great job and didn’t drive me crazy on this long trip. As a matter of fact, I’m even planning our next road trip to Florida. From New York to Florida, that should be a 17 hour drive including an overnight stay in a hotel. I’m pretty excited about it and I’ll be back to tell you all about it.
How do you road trip with your littles? We’d love to hear it!