I guess you might say by now we've become experienced at traveling with toddlers and infants. I thought I'd share some of what I've learned, so take it or leave it. I realize none of these are remarkable or anything, but it's what we do. (I'm writing this during the last hour of a 14.5 hour roadtrip.)
1. What works for Aiden doesn't really work for Anders and vise versa. Example... right now, Aiden is watching Cars on the iPad for the 2 or 3 hundredth time and we have a Mickey Mouse cd on for Anders to listen to.
2. We have two favorite movies (Cars and Planes) on the iPad and we try to put off turning it on as long as possible. We usually make it an hour or two with no screens, but then we are all ready and it works for us.
3. I do my best to pack healthy snacks. Bananas, grapes, popcorn, carrots, ham or turkey, cheese sticks, and raisins are some of my Go-Tos. When we go into the gas station to change diapers and let the kids run around, we'll usually let them pick out something. A bag of chips to share or some juice for their sippies. Sometimes Dave spoils them a little and gets a little bag of m&ms to share among the three of them. I know it's cheaper to buy this stuff anywhere besides a gas station, but it's the whole experience that makes it a win for us. A break from the van and looking at all the colorful things on the shelves helps their moods. :)
4. We researched a lot before getting their convertible car seats because we wanted to make sure they were safe and comfortable. If they aren't comfy enough for my boys to fall asleep in, they're complete fails. Aiden has the Britax Boulevard from a few years ago, and it worked so well for him, we got Anders the newer version when he moved out of the infant seat.
5. You never know which toys are going to be hits for which trips, so I've started having Aiden fill up his little monkey backpack with some toys before we leave. He loves holding his backpack and pulling different things out and putting them back in. When Anders gets a little older, we'll find a little zipper bag for him to do the same thing.
Don't mind Anders's chocolatey face! I couldn't reach him, and when I gave him a wipe, he used it on his neck, ears, forehead, top of his head... Basically everywhere except around his mouth.
Aiden somehow missed the side of his mouth too. Oops. ;)
6. If we are splitting the trip into two days and aren't stopping to stay with relatives, we leave with a general idea of where we want to get, but we never book a hotel early. We start the drive and see how it goes and when we feel like we want to stop in 2-3 hours, we start looking for our hotel. These days there are so many hotels out there, it has always worked out for us. We don't want to have a hotel booked, then end up with a sick child and still have to drive three hours to get there.
Midnight checking in to a hotel to get some sleep. I told Aiden he was going to sleep on the couch that night, and he started snuggling up on this couch in the lobby. Haha :)
Nothing beats this sight after a long day on the road!!
7. Weather! Check the weather at various spots on your journey. We've found new ways to get where we are going due to bad weather elsewhere. One time, we left home with great weather, and our destination had a great forecast so we felt like we were all set. Well, it was springtime and we ran into a big blizzard in Minneapolis. We stopped two to three hours earlier than we planned, but we had to get out of that storm. I was kicking myself for not checking the weather ahead of time because we easily could've avoided that storm.
8. When I was still nursing Anders, we'd stop and I'd hop into the back seat and nurse him, then change his diaper. Dave would take Aiden into the rest stop or gas station. Those were some quick stops!
9. My general rule of thumb for clothes for the boys while in the van is an outfit a day for Aiden (he's 3) plus his jammies, and two outfits a day plus jammies for Anders (he's 19 months).
We think the ac vent above him was blowing on his head so he improvised. :)
I hope you get something helpful from this! If you have other good tips, please let me know!
Side note... I've already thought of a couple more things we always do on road trips, so maybe in a few days I'll do a part 2.