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Labor Day Road Trip Essentials

Are you dreading the next road trip with your kids? Real Talk: If I have to hear Humpty Dumpty ONE MORE TIME… Well, Emily Martins, Market Director of Cool Moms of Howard County & Laurel, has compiled a list of essentials that every parent needs on their next road trip with kids.

My Kids!

This summer I have driven my crew of 3 toddlers to Charleston, SC, Ocean City, MD (several times), and Roanoke Rapids, NC. It’s no surprise that I’ve learned some tips and tricks along the way to make those trips much more bearable (for me!). Here are 10 tips to survive a 3+ hour (or even an 8!) road trip with 3 young kids.

And by early I mean like hours before your kids normally wake up. We went to Ocean City 6 times this summer, and learned to leave at 5am. This way, we beat bridge traffic and arrived at our destination by breakfast time. On longer trips, our normal breakfast time was perfect for a potty break.

You’re gunna need it.

Snacks, snacks, and more snacks. If you think you have enough snacks, grab a few more just in case! Make sure the snacks are in bags or containers your kids know how to open! We got a few containers early this summer and I had the girls practice before we even got in the car. Ziplock bags are also a great alternative.

You can enjoy these snacks too!

Pack 2 coolers. I have a large one in the back for the groceries I’ll need once we arrive, but upfront I always keep my kids milk cups, frozen gogurts, fruit, and cheese sticks. Also a few iced coffees and bubbly waters for momma!’

Be Cool on your trip yo!

For our South Carolina road trip I knew we were going to hit a rough period after breakfast until we got to our location or stopped again. We packed paper bags with some random 5 below fidget toys and special snacks. I gave the kids these bags every 30 minutes. This seemed the perfect timing to entertain them long enough till they got their next bag or we needed a potty break.

Part of my littles surprise bags were magnets and chalk. At home we use cookie sheets for Play Doh and magnet letters so they weren’t new to this idea. But we painted some with chalkboard paint and they loved them!

You’ll find these under your car seat for years to come!

There is nothing worse than a kid dropping a water bottle in the back of a minivan and there’s no way to pick it up. I know they make those rubber straps, and those are great but let’s be real, I can’t strap every toy my kids bring to their car seat.

Also can be used to get the chip bag on the table while sitting on the couch!

We absolutely love these lap pads. They strap behind a car seat or their backs if they’re out of car seats and holds so much. Be warned though, my kids do get overheated using these and have gotten car sick a few times on them, but they wash great!

This is cute and I want one for myself.

Use a mile marker track to your destination. Now my kids are too little to really understand this but it was nice for me to visually see how close we were to our final destination. When passing a big city we moved our little Velcro car on the roof. Yours doesn’t have to be this elaborate, a piece of tape marked with cities would work too!

Black Road PlayTape

Now I’m going to be real with you — the kids and I have no problem popping a squat on the side of the road — but this kid toilet trick saved us during our recent trip home from SC!

We stopped at a rest stop where my sister-in-law took Audrey to the bathroom. I waited in the car with the two sleeping little ones. At 16 weeks pregnant, the urge to pee came on quickly, and the parking lot offered zero privacy. I tossed a kid’s diaper in the toilet, made some space in the van at the foot of a sleeping child, and was cleaned up before the rest of the riders were even back from the bathroom.

If you don’t wanna squat.

I grabbed a few suction cup caddies for the shower from the dollar store and stuck them to the kids windows and they were perfect! Also grabbed a tall storage bin with a lid for a trash can between my girl’s car seats.

sticks so good.

Road Trip Bonus Tip

My biggest piece of advice is just deal with the mess when you get to your destination. I accept my car is a hot freaking mess when I get home after vacation; no matter how hard I try and keep it clean on the road. My girls are 2 & 3 so no way every piece of trash made it in that bin, and the chalk made a powder colorful mess in their car seats…but they were happy and entertained. We made it to and from SC with no tears! I’ll deal with the mess if that means happy children.

Happy travels!

Author: Emily Martins is mom to 3 beautiful children and Market Director for Cool Moms of Howard County and Laurel.

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