How to Survive 2,500 Miles in the Car with 2 Toddlers (Part 1)

The holiday season is here, and for the Brashear family, that means lots of traveling, time with extended family, TONS of stimulation, and crazy schedules. With the kids being over 2 years old now (no longer flying for free) we decided to try something new and drive over 1,200 miles to Arizona. Since a lot of people were in shock we tried to do this, I thought it would be a good idea to write about how we accomplished this amazing trip.

This post will be about how we prepared for the long drive in the car because anyone who has been around toddlers knows that asking them to happily stay in a car seat for 18 hours is not an easy task. Knowing that they would be bored, hungry, tired, and cranky, we planned to only drive 6 hours a day so none of us would go crazy. However, weather didn’t permit us to stick to this goal because 3 hours into the drive on the 2nd day, we were forced to stop and spend the night leaving us to travel 10 hours on Day 3 (eeek). It felt a little defeating at the moment we had to stop, but making sure our family was safe was most important, and we all made it through the long days surprisingly well. Here are some tips for the long drive:

1. Pack Plenty of Snacks
Any bags or containers they could hold themselves were great. Fruit snacks, paw patrol graham crackers, travel pringles, mini raisin boxes, granola bars, bags of dried fruit chips, crackers and cheese, etc. I literally went through all of the aisles at the grocery store and picked out anything travel size they might enjoy. I also made peanut butter and honey sandwiches and brought oranges and bananas. Anything I could think of that wouldn’t be a disaster, and wouldn’t go bad being in the car for a few days.

2. Bring Toys/Movies to Keep them Entertained
We are lucky enough to have a DVD player in my new mom car, so that was a great addition to the trip. However, on previous drives or plane rides, I’ve downloaded shows/movies on my phone through Netflix where you don’t need internet to watch.
Now you can’t ask them to stay entertained with movies for 6 hours (and your probably don’t want them to), so I also brought easy car toys, like horses, trucks, stuffed animals, alphabet cards, etc. and had plenty of “dance parties” and tried looking for animals outside. Prior to the trip, I purchased a car seat tray on Amazon in hopes they would be able to eat on them without making huge messes (that was NOT the case, haha). But it was also a white board tray which my kids LOVE to draw, so they enjoyed this a lot. (However, beware that half of the time they ‘wanted to draw’, they were actually just taking the lids off of the markers and placing them on their fingers, leaving the markers open causing dry erase marker to be all over their car seats and clothes).

3. Make Stops
Everybody wants to get there as quickly as possible but 18 hours of driving, probably ended up being 20 hours, which kept the kids sane. Besides the 2 or so gas station/bathroom stops each day, we would find a Walmart or Target to stop at so that they would get a good 30- 45 minutes of walking around and looking at toys. That was a lot of fun for them, and it allowed them to be ready to get right back in the car and keep going.

4. Pack a Small Bag for Hotel
With kids, you are already traveling with a lot of stuff, especially for a 14-day trip so I try to make the trips in and out of hotels as easy as I can. We already have to bring in 2 pack n plays, so instead of having to bring in a giant suitcase too, I pack enough clothes, diapers, books, & cosmetics in a small overnight bag to last us the 2 nights of hotel stays.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which will be about how we stay on a healthy sleep schedule during the drive and the entire trip.

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