Recently our family took a summer vacation to the beautiful Shuswap Lake in B.C. Traveling with a 1.5, 2 and 5.5 year old for 8 hours (drive time) sounded a little scary...like horror movie scary. Gone are the days when they would sleep half the way, especially with the busy toddlers and a very curious almost 6 year old. But we knew the journey would be worth it to spend a whole week with family making unforgettable memories… so here are a few things we learned along the way to make the trip there as easy (I use that term lightly lol) as possible.
Let’s start with the STUFF...what do we need? We really wanted some sort of table for the kids to eat snacks on, play with toys and colour on. We had a hard time finding one that would fit just the way we wanted with our three different car seats and wanted a design we could easily remove without straps... because the toddlers will probably want it removed 800 times before we even leave town and we weren’t looking to pull any neck muscles this trip (parents, you know what we are talking about…neck cramps), so we made our own! Please keep in mind we are not overly crafty people but this was easy, seriously! We just used an old pillow case, a baking sheet from the dollar store and some stuffing from a cheap pillow…and bam there you have it (more or less haha).
We also packed a whole lot of stuff to keep them occupied because as soon as they get bored all hell breaks loose and you find yourself saying things in your Mom voice like “don’t make me pull this car over” or “we are never going on vacation again” haha. So we packed a lot of things. No need to get fancy, this can be items from the dollar store or if you don't want to spend any money it can even just be simple items from home… you know those items that sit at the bottom of the toy box and they don’t even remember they have? We found the key to keeping them entertained and busy was to provide them new exciting items that they had not seen before or in quite some time. A few examples are: coloring books, stickers, activity books, blocks, magnets (super handy with the tray), dinosaurs, books, dolls, sensory items such as water bottles filled with feathers or liquid with food coloring? Play-Doh stuffed in a balloon to squish (oh hey, thanks Pinterest) etc. We kept these toys in their own mini backpacks (found at Dollarama) within reach so they could pick and choose the toys as they wanted. We kept a few “surprise toys” out of the bag for those pull your hair out moments when nothing will calm the storm that’s brewing. We also kept a couple movies on hand for when they got bored of the toys or just to switch things up. Also important was to pack a few of their favourite things such as their favourite blanky or stuffy. Also don't forget to pack things such as wet wipes to easily clean up spills (or kids who may get carsick. Speaking from experience, oi vey…those mountain roads).
Now that we have the gear, let’s talk FOOD! I don’t know about you guys but I swear the kids are saying “I’m hungry” every 5 minutes. So we knew we had to be prepared with snacks and lots of them. We tried to pack snacks that make the least amount of mess (especially because of the toddlers!) But also packed a few treats for those I-need-quiet moments…even if it only gives you 5 minutes, that’s a win in our books. Also pack a lunch or snacks for any stops you have planned along the way (more on that below!).
Okay you have your gear, you have your food…LET’S DO THIS. Find the time that works best for your crew. Some people travel in the middle of the night so the kids will sleep (we have done this before and it worked wonderfully), some people find late afternoon but for us this time, first thing in the morning was our magic time (haha real friggin magical isn’t it?). We got the kids up early at 6 am, fed them breakfast ran around the house for a short time and off we went. When you type your destination into Google maps don’t be fooled parents! Our 8 hour trip (according to Google) turned into more like 9.5-10 hours. Seriously Google maps needs a button that you click when traveling with kids that adds additional time in your trip for stops and maps out parks for every town #milliondollaridea. Speaking of stops…make stops! We stopped halfway through our trip in Golden. We looked up the nearest park and went and parked for a picnic lunch and some time for the kids to burn off some energy. Another good rule we learned is if you are not in a rush don't push your limits and be flexible. We originally thought we would make the rest of the trip without another stop but found the kids starting to get cranky again a couple hours after Golden. The moment when we as parents began to think holy hell, what have we gotten ourselves into and how do we get out…because the kids were starting to lose their cool. We could have kept driving and listened to the kids whine but what the heck for? So we made another pit stop at the Crazy Creek Waterfalls which involved a lot of stairs (play those tiny legs out!), an ice cream break and a great view! We must confess, these breaks also provide us adults with a bit of sanity and a good chance to stretch and escape the craziness of the vehicle.
Before you know it, you have arrived at your DESTINATION and although at times you may feel like turning the car around and calling it a day, we promise you that it’s not all bad…and let’s be honest what works for us won’t work for everyone so you do what works best for your fam jam. I wouldn’t say the entire journey was smooth (on the way home a mouse jumped in one of our cars while we loaded up, but that's a whole blog post on its own lol), there were definitely moments where we cranked the tunes to drown the whining out when nothing else worked lol but I think these tips for sure made the trip easier on everyone. And well, if none of these tips get you through it just remember, your giant bottles of wine (sangria for us!) are waiting for you at the end of the drive and well that’s pretty cool too.
We want to hear what tips and tricks you have for long road trips…come on parents, share your secrets!
Also, had to share a few pics of our beach babe models reppin' our gear 😉