One of my failproof ways to distract my kids is to take them on a road trip. Nothing too far way, nothing terribly expensive, but somewhere out of the house where they can see new things and explore new places. But as a single mom of three, my budget is king. So I always have to find ways to save while still creating a fun experience for my kids!
Last week the kids and I did two road trips. One was to visit some relatives and the other to Sea World and a Wildlife Ranch in san Antonio, TX. With almost 13 hours to drive in less than a week, I was searching for ways to entertain the kids, keep them fed, hydrated, and happy along the way. I succeeded and we had an amazing week. I did learn some tips to make travel a little easier with little kids that I want to share!
Pack Food and Drink to Go
There is nothing better than a cooler in the car filled with drinks kids love and food they can snack on. It is also a huge money saver on lunch and dinner if driving during meal time. Plus, you can take your food and drink to the hotel or on your adventures as you go. While shopping for my cooler treats, I came across Tampico Juices. Now, my kids are very picky about their juice so I have to be careful about what I buy. Luckily, Tampico has always been a brand that they request! For less than $2 a gallon - yes, a GALLON - I picked up the Citrus Punch and the Tropical Punch for my cooler. I added water, bread, lunch meat, cheese, crackers and a variety pack of cookies. Because I bought the gallons of Tampico, I had to toss in some cups for the kids to use. The ones with the built in straws worked best for me!
Take Approved Drinks and Food to Parks with You
I called ahead to the parks we were going to visit and found out what I could and could not take into the park. With young kids, most parks will let you bring in milk, snacks and more. Using the things I had in my cooler, I made some snacks, grabbed some cookies and used empty water bottles to fill with Tampico Juices to take to the parks with me. They allowed kid-size drinks so the small bottles worked best. My kids love the Tampico flavors and had their drinks right there when they wanted them. Another quick tip: freeze bottles of Tampico (leave some room in the top for it to expand) and then let them melt on a hot day as you go through! It makes for a very cool juice when your kids are ready!
Charge those Electronics BEFORE you Leave
This is a valuable tip as I have three kids and three tablets and one was not charged before I left. So I speak from experience when I say, charge those electronics before you leave the house! I have a USB plug in my car in the back seat, but it does not have the power to charge very quickly, won't charge when the car is off and the cord gets in the way. The last thing you want to do is have no silencer to the 'are we there yet?' question. Another quick tip for electronics on a car ride? Hold off giving them to the kids until the last half of the trip. My kids bore or their eyes hurt after about 30 minutes to an hour. So at the most difficult part of the trip, you want them entertained!
Pack Coloring Books and Crayons
Hotels are a huge hit with my kids. But once the jumping on the bed, checking out every corner and standing in the shower as if they have never been in one wears off, I need something to calm them and entertain them while I unpack and plan the day. Before I head out on my trip, I stop at the dollar store and get coloring books and crayons - less than $5 for all three kids - and pull them out. When the trip is over, I toss them without any guilt!
Know that on any trip with kids - road or otherwise - there are going to be bumpy parts. They may have to go potty every 30 minutes, may not sleep well in a new place and may just be tired and cranky like we sometimes get. The important thing is to remember that this is supposed to be fun. Yes, I had to put one of my daughter's in time out in a restaurant and at the Wildlife Park because parenting never takes a break, but we went right back to having fun with no issue!
Road trips are a great way to bond as a family and bust the summer boredom blues!