In a world of hashtags and Instagram filtered photos, it can be really easy to get an ailment I like to call vacation envy.
I am always seeing beautiful, EXPENSIVE-looking vacations that parents are enjoying and sharing online. While I love seeing those fun adventures, my family is not in a place financially to enjoy a Disney vacation or a cruise any time soon. I also am constantly asking myself the question, “Is vacationing with a four-year-old and two-year-old even going to be fun?” The idea of airport security, a plane ride, renting a car (and renting or lugging along car seats), and sleeping cramped with four people in one room doesn’t sound relaxing to me at this stage of life!
Does this mean we should just skip vacations altogether until our kids are older?
No way! I have found that there are plenty of fun destinations that we can enjoy as a family while avoiding all of the things that make me cringe when I think of traveling with young kids. We are lucky to have kids that are really content road trippers. (Thank you, coloring books and Netflix!) And so a two-four hour drive to a completely new environment is totally worth it to us!
Over the next few months, I will be sharing some of our favorite locations around the state of New Mexico to go adventuring. In the meantime, I would love to give you some insight into how to travel by car with young children.
Bring all of the snacks.
There is nothing less fun than hearing, “Mama, I’m STARVING” when you are on a stretch of empty desert highway. I try to pack healthy snacks in a cooler: grapes, string cheese, sliced apples, etc. I’ll also pack some special treats such as fruit snacks, granola bars, goldfish crackers, etc. for when we are all in need of a “treat yo-self moment.”
Pack a potty.
Okay, I lied. Hearing, “I HAVE TO GO POTTY RIGHT NOW” on an empty stretch of desert highway is by far the least fun possible experience you could have. We bring our potty training potty in the back of the car so that we never have to tell a story about peeing on the side of the road at our daughters’ high school graduations. This has been a life saver. The potty chair allows us to get back on the road as soon as possible after the kids take a bathroom break.
Mess free activities.
I love felt quiet books, mess free coloring books, and toys like dolls and cars/trucks for some easy entertainment. We have learned the hard way that giving a two-year-old a fistful of crayons means you spend the rest of the year finding crayons melted in every hard to reach spot in your car. Keep it simple, and let them use their imaginations!
When in doubt, let screen time come to rescue.
Download every episode of Peppa Pig and Daniel Tiger and some educational apps on your phone or tablet. Remind yourself that there is no guilt in a little extra screen time. You’ll be having so many outdoor, educational experiences when you reach your destination!
These tips have helped us have really good experiences taking our two young children on many road trips. And they’ve led to so many fun, inexpensive vacations!
Up next, I will be sharing some of our favorite New Mexico mini vacations! Join us for some fun destinations and activities!