Over the next few weeks, many of us will take advantage of long weekends to go on a road trip. Getaways of yesteryear when we were footloose and fancy-free are distant memories when you have kids. Now we have to plan and prepare and exercise all our OCD rites. But there are a few things you can take that will make the journey smoother.
Most kids and especially mine get testy when their physiological needs are challenged. More specifically, the weeping and snotty tantrums on the floor with limbs flailing happen when they’re sleepy or hungry, so do everything you can to make the trip comfortable for them and avoid the meltdowns.
These are the 10 toddler goodies (more for your benefit than theirs) you shouldn’t take a roadtrip without:
1. Bug repellant: It’s no secret by now that I love products in a stick, because they’re so portable and great for travel, which is a big reason why I like Badger Balm Anti-Bug Stick. When repelling bugs from your tiny creatures, you can usually get them to stand still long enough to swipe their ankles and wrists before some sort of mischief pulls them elsewhere. The balm uses essential oils of Citronella, Cedar, Lemongrass, Rosemary, and Geranium. The scent is strong, but it’s fresh and herbal, and it keeps the skeeters away.
2. Sunscreen:After my 20s, I became crazy about SPF, I apply throughout the day, and whenever the sun hits me and my skin starts to sparkle. I’m am equally vigilant with my mini, and am also protective when it comes to what I put on her skin. A couple of the brands that score well with EWG and that I trust when it comes to my precious cargo are Babo Botanicals SPF 40 Daily Sheer Facial Sunscreen and Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen. I’ve spoken with these brands’ founders, and know they both started their companies to protect those they love from damaging sun rays and toxic chemicals. These are physical blockers rather than chemical, so they put a protective barrier on your skin without anything creepy seeping in. These brands rub in well, compared to other natural sunblocks, have light, pleasant scents, and do the job. As with any sunscreen, reapply often.
3. Face wipeys: For butts, there is a wide array of mostly natural baby wipes that you can buy, but if you’ve ever used them on your hands and mouth, you know they taste pretty gross. Why would we do this to our kids, who inevitably have a spill or some class of smear across their face while they’re riding in the back of the car. I love NeatCheeks Natural Flavored Baby Face Wipes because they have a mild sweet taste (Stevia) and come in small purse-ready travel packs. Save the butt wipes for butts.
4. Blankies: My daughter loves her blankie and shouts “Monkey blanket!” when she gets sleepy, and we scuttle off to hasten sleep. The blankets of choice are Aden + Anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets. They’re cuddly and warm enough to give comfort, but they’re also thin enough that you can use them to protect your kids from the sun (back seats, strollers at theme parks), or if they’re sleeping, you can throw the blankets over them because they’re completely breathable. I bought two sets because clean blankies were starting to dictate my laundry days.
5. Sippy cup: It can be tricky to find a good sippy that fits in carseat cup holders and is spill-proof. In comes the Munchkin Miracle 360: it looks like a regular cup, but is tightly sealed and is rather miraculous in that it happily hydrates you when you sip. It’s so good, in fact, that an adult might be tempted to use is to control margarita spills on a childless evening. Ahem…You know, not for me – for a friend. You don’t know her.
6. Tablet: We spend a lot of time on the road, with family throughout the southwest. I try to let my sweet girl entertain herself for as long as possible. We talk and tell jokes, we sing kids’ songs, I put on the radio and let her daydream a bit, but inevitably, usually around hour two (excluding naps) she gets restless. Who can blame her? I could let her scream while I start to think about all of life’s injustices, or I could pass her a tablet to ride out the rest of the trip. If you have an iPad, the Speck iGuy iPad Case is super handy because it has bendy arm handles, is indestructible, and covers all bases on the iPad. It’s been flung across the room – no problem. If you’re not yet willing to relinquish your iPad, kids love the Kindle because it’s the perfect size them and if you ask me, it’s much easier to load with movies, and has great kid-friendly apps like PBS. Plus, the Kindle Fire Kids Edition Tablet is much cheaper than my beloved Apple products.
7. Snacks: Fruit pouches are a life-saver, literally. There at times all my daughter wants to eat is popcorn. Scratch that – I guess you survive even if you don’t eat veggies, because my husband’s doing fine. So how do you sneak in a little nourishment into all the loves of your life? Shine Organics Superfood and Plum Organics Second Blends both have a tasty blend of fruits, veggies, and other good things, like chia, and those who still can’t read will never know the good things you’re doing for them. They’re pretty travel-friendly, unless they get an enthusiastic squish (in which case, you’ll have the NeatCheeks), and balance out the garbage drive-thru food on the road.
8. Window screens: In Arizona, temperature control is imperative. When we’re driving south after lunch, the westerly sun can sear passenger-side riders. The windows are tinted, but sill… BRICA White Hot Sun Safety Shades hang on to the upper edge of the window, and can be popped up and pulled down depending on the whims of the sun. Caution: I’d leave them rolled up if you have a handsy toddler, until he or she dozes off. Naptime uninterrupted.
9. Noggle: This thing is totally ridiculous. Just get over it, because it’s also amazing. My car is far more spacious than my husband’s car, but for some reason, our daughter always wanted to ride in his car. Why? Because he had a Noggle. It very apparently made a huge difference to her. And to be honest, it’s devastating to look in the rearview mirror and see your tiny bestie cherry-faced. It cools the back seat, and the directional hose can give spot treatment as needed. When you get into your car in the Phoenix summer and it’s 150 degrees Fahrenheit, Noggle is everyone’s best friend.
10. Bubbles: When all else fails, there are bubbles. This is the one activity with the highest ROI, because they’re dirt cheap but also inspire whim, are enjoyed by the whole family, provide hours of entertainment, and never ever go out of style. I travel with a bottle or pick one up when we get there. Even in boring hotel rooms, or at pit stops along the way, bubbles. Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles.
I hope wherever you go in the upcoming holiday season, you’re safe and surrounded by love. Drive safely, reapply, be kind, and take care!
Oh, hey, and let me know if there’s anything you won’t travel without! Always happy to get a tip.
Disclosure: A few of the hyperlinked products here that I use and recommend (and link to for your convenience) contain affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase after clicking on them, I will receive a small commission (for my convenience). Feel free to buy from the suggested vendors or from anywhere else you frequent or find value.