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There's a good chance that if you're reading this, we're on the road. Road trips seem to be one of the things we're always doing as a family, especially during the summer months when the weather is nice and we don't have to worry about road closures. While we usually head a few hours down the road to my family's cabin in a cute little beach / ski town, we also have a lot of family within a day's drive, and we love getting H together with his cousins.
H's first road trip was when he was about 6 weeks old, and while long car rides with a baby or toddler are never going to be a total breeze, there are a few things I've learned to always bring with me to help keep him clean, fed and happily occupied:
We recently got an Ally & Joe Backseat Baby Mirror for everyday driving and it's made a HUGE difference in H being ok with being by himself in the backseat. We are keeping him rear facing in his car seat for as long as possible, so sometimes he gets really frustrated that he can hear us but can't see us, so having the mirror in the back fixes that problem. I also really like that I can keep an eye on him because he tends to make some weird noises and I'm always paranoid that he'll choke on something if I ever give him snacks to munch on.
I don't like clutter in the backseat, but I can't deny that having a few toys, like this Recycling Truck or Train from Green Toys is beneficial for keeping H occupied. I like that these are a bigger size, and they're made in the USA without any tiny pieces that might become a choking hazard, so I don't have to worry about something breaking off, and the recycled milk bottle material is safe and non toxic. H is obsessed with the garbage trucks that come through our neighborhood, and he loves making 'vroom' noises and raising and lowering the recycling bed and opening and closing the rear door.
I also make sure to have a few colorful board books on hand for H to flip through. If I'm feeling like SuperMom, I'll even try to have a 'theme' to the book choices to get him excited about our trip. A few cute options for a summertime road trip might include: Moby Dick, Hide and Seek Harry at the Beach, Zoom Zoom Baby, and Llama Llama Sand and Sun! Now that he's a little older, he loves 'reading' to himself, and is definitely drawn to brightly colored illustrations and pictures, and I love listening to him babble to himself in the back. I learned my lesson about only giving him board books, as paper pages will just get ripped to shreds, eaten and totally destroyed #toddlerlife.
If you don't have a Car charger on hand, then you need to pick one up ASAP. I picked this one up about 6 months ago and it blows the cheapo ones I used to have out of the water. My phone charges super fast, which is important when using a battery-draining application like 'maps' if you so happen to be slightly directionally challenged like myself. I know a lot of people will download apps for their iPads for kids to watch and play with on longer road trips, and because of the additional usb charging port on this car charger, I can be charging both my phone and the iPad at once!
We always try to keep some healthy snacks in the car as well, both for us and H. This usually includes some cut up fresh fruit, Horizon Organic Snack Grahams, Horizon Organic Snack Crackers, and a few sandwiches. Keeping easily accessible options in the car with us is not only easier on our budget, but it also keeps us from stopping at a greasy fast food place. Having something like this awesome Nûby Monster 3D Snack Keeper is great option for H to use to feed himself his snacks on the drive. The soft monster teeth keep his crackers inside so I don't have to worry about them spilling across the backseat, and like the toddler feeding plate, H is obsessed with the monster eyes. I like that the Monster snack keeper is a little bigger of a scale so I can fit bigger pieces of food inside and it holds a little more, but Nûby's regular snack keeper has always been on my list of toddler must haves as well.
I always try to keep H hydrated on our road trips, especially in the summer heat. I was just sent the best cup ever as part of the Nûby Parent Blogger program: Nûby No-Spill™ Insulated Cool Sipper and I already want more. The patented no spill insulated cup has been the first we've come across and used that actually keeps his water cool on long drives! Because it's insulated, the Cool Sipper also doesn't 'sweat', which means I don't have to worry about H or his car seat getting wet! One of the coolest things about the cup, though, is the 'Clik-It' lid. Thanks to the No-Spill Clik-It lid, I can hear (and see!) the telltale 'click' so I don't have to worry about whether the top is on properly or whether the cup will leak or spill! As we start thinking about transitioning to open cups as H gets older, this is the perfect cup for him. It's a Step 4, so it's recommended for 18 months and up, but I don't see any reason why a younger toddler wouldn't be able to use it either. The wide and super soft rim took H a few times to fully catch on to using properly, but now he loves it! There's also no valve in the Cool Sipper, so these might be the easiest cups ever to rinse clean, which is huge for us. You can find these cups at Amazon, Walmart, and Big Lots.
Are you tired of me talking about the Quinny Yezz stroller yet? Our Quinny Yezz stroller is H's new BFF for those times when baby wearing just isn't in the cards, or when I want to be able to let him eat a snack as we're out and about. He HATED being pushed around in the stroller we used to have, no matter what we tried - so we gave up on ever being able to wheel him around. The Yezz has to be coated in miracle unicorn and rainbow juju - because H seriously lights up every time we pull it out of the trunk. There have actually been mornings where he will grab it from next to the door and push it into the middle of the living room so he can climb into it just to hang out and sit in his seat - while indoors. He also thinks taking his Owl or Moose for walks in it is just about the most fun thing ever and it's so stinkin' cute! The Yezz is perfect for road trips, especially if space on your car is at a premium. Folding it up takes seconds and I don't have to wrestle or break a sweat to get it to break down, and it folds up super compact so it even works well in our Prius. It's so lightweight I can carry it over my shoulder while I'm wearing H in the front with no troubles as well. I've raved about this stroller before (here and here) and definitely recommend this Quinny brand stroller to anyone and everyone who will listen.
Yes, having a stroller is now on our must list, but so is a proper baby carrier. The Lillebaby Airflow is perfect for summer and warmer weather. I can't use many carriers because of the acute back damage I'm left with after a car accident I was in several years ago. H is no lightweight, and he gets pretty shy when we take him new places and he's not familiar with the people or his surroundings. Carrying him in my arms is nearly impossible because after a while, he just gets too heavy and if he's near me, he probably wants to be nursing. The LILLEbaby is so comfortable, it has been the only carrier that both my husband and I have been able to wear H in for extended periods without any pain of discomfort! When it's this hot out, I definitely prefer my All Seasons to the Original Complete, but the Airflow beats them both in terms of comfort for hot and humid babywearing. It's more breathable so we don't end up two sweaty messes, and it still has the full size pocket on the front to carry anything I might need. I typically wear H on my front for the first while that we're out and about so he can nurse and then switch him over to my back for the last part so he can look around a little.
I'm a total mama-razzi, I admit it. I always have to have a camera on me to catch H's adventures and our family outings. We recently upgraded to a Canon EOS Rebel T5 from a way older Canon I was borrowing from my mom and I'm obsessed. even straight out of the camera shots are such better quality and while I'm still trying to learn everything it has to offer, so far teaching myself has been really easy.
Because changing diapers is like 70% of parenthood, obviously diapers and wipes are pretty crucial, but so is what you carry them in. Lily Jade Diaper Bags are so much more than just a diaper bag thanks to the amazing inner organizational system, and it's incredible how much they can hold. They look gorgeous and chic, but are very well made and are far more durable than their 'pretty' looks would make them seem.
As I've mentioned before, we cloth diaper at home, but while we're out of town it's just not worth packing however many days of diapers H would need and having to worry about having a place to wash and dry them as well. I like that the Honest Diapers are natural and don't give H's sensitive skin a bad reaction and they come in some of the cutest designs for your little ones. I recently picked up some Amazon Wipes during their massive let-down of a Christmas in July sale and have been really pleasantly surprised with them. One side is 'textured' to help with extra messy diapers and the sensitive ones haven't given H a bad reaction.
And finally, an Amazon Prime Playlist is always a good thing to bring with you! If you have Amazon Prime and haven't taken advantage of their new Prime Music you are cheating yourself out of the best (in my humble opinion) 'free' music streamer out there. Unlike Spotify or Pandora, there are no ads (so many high fives to this), unlimited skips, and you can select the exact song you want to play - not just a radio station with similar songs based on the one you want to hear, and you can download songs from the Prime Music catalog to your personal device for offline playback for those times when you dont have an internet connection!!! Other great things? The music they select and play for you continues to get better as you give them feedback on each song with a thumbs up or thumbs down. There are over a million songs to choose from and add to any personalized playlist you want to create, or you can listen to any of the hundreds of pre-made playlists Amazon offers as well.
Not a member of Amazon prime yet? Try a 30 day free trial of Amazon Prime, or Amazon offers a six month free trial of Amazon Prime for college students and get all the benefits of two day shipping, free streaming music, movies and TV shows, and so many more exclusive deals and coupons!)
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What do you always bring with you on road trips?