Last March I did something crazy some might say even stupid… I went on a 7 hour road trip with my 6, 3 and 8 month old kids ALONE!
Yes folks I did and I don’t regret it. There was laughter, whining, smiles, tears and even an outbreak of hives (I’m still trying to forget that part), but the memories….ah the memories were priceless.
It was spring break and Sam couldn’t take off work but I still wanted to go somewhere with the kids so I decided to drive up the California coast to Santa Cruz to visit my bother and his family. We had all just gotten over colds and a sinus infection on my part so I was ready for some fun. I was on antibiotics for my sinus infection and had an allergic reaction to the amoxicillin hence the outbreak of hives at the end of our trip. That part was not fun but my brother and sister-in-law helped me with boys while I waited in the ER with Ruby. Turns out there’s nothing they can do for hives except tell you to take Benadryl and Zyrtec. I was still nursing ’round the clock so I couldn’t take all the doses of Benadryl but somehow I survived and now I laugh at the irony of these events….”of course I’d have an allergic reaction to antibiotics while on a road trip alone with my kids” ha ha.
Okay so let’s get to the fun part. The way up the coast was the most fun part of the trip for sure. Here are my top 7 tips for road tripping with small kids.
- Start driving when it is your youngest child’s nap time. We always start a road trip when Ruby is ready for her first nap so we get at least 2 hours on the road and then stop for lunch.
- Stop at McDonalds for lunch! My kids love the toys here even though I hate how they clutter up the house. They are perfect for entertaining them for a short time and then I gather them up and donate them….they never notice. At this particular McDonalds an employee gave us smile masks and we had so much fun with them. I always order the boys a happy meal with either yogurt or apple slices and then make them share their fries and apples with Ruby. Also I love their southwest chicken salad … it’s super tasty and they have a low-fat balsamic dressing that its great. Alright this is sounding like a McDonalds ad but it’s really not, it’s just the best place to stop for kiddos on a road trip especially if they have a play place and can get their wiggles out there.
- Pack treats from the dollar section of Target before you leave and hand them out throughout the trip when you find your kids making good choices and getting along.
- Break up a long drive with an overnight stay at a hotel with a pool! We stayed just outside of Santa Barbara at one of my favorite hotels The Kimpton Goodland. They were very helpful in getting me and my kids and all our bags to our room and even snapped the photo at the top of this post…. never be afraid to ask a stranger for a photo! Also bring your own flotation devices to use in the hotel pool. This was how I was able to take all 3 kids to the pool by myself. Waylon is a great swimmer now and Zeke is on his way but I still don’t trust him. I brought Zeke floaties and a baby floaty for Ruby and had the best time cooling off and getting our energy out in the pool.
- For dinner order take-out or Postmate it or if you’re feeling adventurous walk to the restaurant to pick up your food. I brought the boys’ scooters and my double stroller so I packed Ruby and Zeke in the stroller and let Waylon scoot to pick up our dinner. This is one memory I will always remember… we picked up our food, stopped at Trader Joe’s for more snacks and a can of wine for mama and even bought some artwork off of a homeless person.
- Hand your phone to your kids to take some photos of the trip so you all can remember it through their eyes as well.
- Let go of expectations, don’t get hives and have fun!
I hope this helps you out for your next adventure!