NoDakKelli’s Top 10 Checklist for the Car on a Family Road Trip

NoDakKelli’s Top 10 Checklist for the Car on a Family Road Trip

Time for a road trip with the kids

As cabin fever seizes our family with cold temperatures and limited sunlight, we start dreaming of warmer weather and vacations.  Hubby and I love road trips. We like to just take off and see where the road takes us. We have learned in our 15 plus years together that he is the late-night negotiator at the hotel lobby counter, I am the online booker and he is not allowed to navigate…ever.

With the additions of Miss E and Miss A to our fold, our opportunities to road trip have been drastically cut, but Miss A is turning 3 this year, her potty-training is at 95% and she is able to verbalize (kind of) what she needs.

We have decided this is the year of the family road-trip. This made me think…how should I mentally and practically prepare the car for these adventures?

NoDakKelli’s Top 10 Checklist for the Car on a Family Road Trip


NoDakKelli’s Top 10 Checklist for the Car
so I Don’t Lose My Mind on a Family Road Trip

10. Sunglasses for everyone

Hubby, me, both kids, everyone needs sunglasses and no one will remember to pack them unless you happen to leave the house when the sun is menacingly beating down. If it’s early morning, late evening, or if a cloud exists, everyone will forget and then whining, complaining, and eye damage caused by UV radiation will follow.

9. Plastic bags

There will be messes. There will be garbage. You are going to enjoy not smelling those stinky discards for miles and miles down the road. I like to take a little handful of those plastic bags I have crammed under my kitchen sink at home and put them in my glove box or under my seat before a trip.

8. Water bottles

If you have leak-free water bottles, even better! This way you can pour whatever beverage out of the ridiculously flimsy container into the bottle and maybe, just maybe, avoid a spill. If that doesn’t work:

7. Paper towels

Trust me. You will never complain about having too many absorbent paper products handy. While you’re at it: wet wipes (baby wipes/Clorox/etc). Sometimes a paper towel won’t cut it. My youngest thinks ketchup doubles as a skin conditioner and testing the structural integrity of drinking cups is a competitive sport…sometimes you need to call in the big guns…or wipes.

6. Slip-on shoes or sandals

Our children don’t give us a countdown for bathroom breaks. There’s no “Mummy. I believe I’ll need the facilities sometime in the next 30 or so minutes, so please keep a keen eye.” It’s more of a frantic request (usually RIGHT after passing a well-lit, nicely laid out travel stop) which quickly turns into painful screaming because someone needs to potty NOW. I don’t want to spend time buckling cute booties or tying 10-foot-long tennis shoe laces. Time’s a factor. If the shoes don’t slip on, pack them in the overnight bag.

5. Entertainment

I’m not getting into a technology vs no technology argument. You do you. We’ll do us. BUT, if you are hauling kiddos for hours upon hours in the car, you are going to want something to occupy their little minds and give you some respite from I Spy (my girls could play I Spy HOURS on end, in eastern North Dakota you only have so many green-grass, green-field, blue-sky, blue-sign, gray-road, gray-grain bin you can handle before getting twitchy). We like: kids magazines, etch-a-sketch, DVD players, music, baby dolls with bottles or other simple accessories.

4. Blankets and Travel Pillows

I haul my pillow with me when I go over night. It helps me sleep better and I don’t assume everyone else will sleep fine with all foreign bedding, so each kid gets a blanket and a pillow of some kind for in-car snoozing.

3. Chargers

That ITunes Kid’s Playlist of happy pop, curse-free rock, and Disney standards will do you no good if your phone or IPod are dead.

2. An insulated cooler bag

I usually don’t mess with ice, but I do throw a freezer pack (wine chiller) from the freezer into the bag for beverages and in case we pick up anything we’d prefer to keep cool.

1. Snacks

It doesn’t matter if we just ate a huge breakfast 35 seconds before getting into the car. For some reason the car’s transmission clicking into reverse somehow magically drains my children’s stomachs and they are hungry. My children are asking for snacks or assessing our snack situation before we leave a parking lot. I don’t know if they think we are going to get marooned to a distant planet that doesn’t have food and all we will have to survive on is what I have in the car, but they are worried. Variety and the architecture of snacks should be taken into consideration, as children get bored and if your snack choice bursts into a million flakes of dusty powder on impact….you’re going to need a hazmat suit to clean out your back seat. When we travel, this is what I’m packing: banana (this is where those plastic bags come in handy, so you aren’t smelling deteriorating banana peels for hundreds of miles), cheese sticks (in the cooler bag), fruit snacks, applesauce pouches, and pretzels.

NoDakKelli’s Top 10 Checklist for the Car on a Family Road Trip


Family road trips carry their own rewards

Now remember, car trips are fun! Plus, there will be somewhere to get booze when you reach your destination. If not, put a bottle of something IN the cooler bag. We’ll call that number 1.75…see what I did there?

About the author

North Dakota born Kelli B is a busy mom, wife, leader, and business woman. She blogs with humor and insight about life with her family and life in general. Photography by Kelli.

Read her blog here nodakkelli