You guys- we did it again. My husband Josh and packed our six kids into our van and drove 1,946 km to Southwest Florida from our home in Toronto, Canada. You can read about our past trips to Ave Maria and Naples, Florida here, and read my family travel tips here! Like in past years, driving that far, with so many children, including a nursing baby, is equal parts crazy, grueling, fun and exciting. With experience under our belt we know to expect the unexpected and just enjoy the ride as much as we can.
We got back yesterday and while it is all still fresh in my mind, I wanted to share some new ideas we tried out this road trip that made the experience of traveling with kids so much easier.
1. ESSENTIAL OILS IN A CAR DIFFUSER
I have written about my love of essential oils in the past and how they help me with stress, anxiety and energy- and this little product was a game changer! I picked up this inexpensive unit that simply plugs into your car charger. You place a few drops of your favourite oil on a reusable pad and your car smells heavenly and you get all the benefits of the oil. When everyone is stinky, smelly, grimy, tired and grumpy, small things like this can make a big difference!
2. A PLUG IN CAR COOLER
This was a new addition to our car this year and I am so thankful for it. We purchased off Amazon this car cooler– and it was so helpful for keeping milks for the kids, monster colas for when we do the drive through the night, and putting used baby bottles in so that they don’t smell like death after a few hours left in a parked hot car!!! This particular one we got was smaller than I was hoping for so we’ll probably upgrade to a larger one at some point- but I did like that the compact size, and carrying strap, made it really easy to bring out for picnics, day trips etc. We attended a minor league baseball game on one of our breaks during the drive and Josh was able to take the entire cooler in to the park which made keeping cool and hydrated super easy.
3. A WATERPROOF PICNIC BLANKET
This one was another new addition to our packing list. When you are in the car for a zillion hours (our journey home was 36 hours with no hotel stay- that is a lot of hours in a small space!) the ability to stretch and lie down is so nice. Along the highways to Florida there are so many beautiful rest stops like this with tons of green space- and to lie down real quick while the kids explore is so refreshing. I like the waterproof backing as it just makes things easier- and this one folds up super small and is so compact.
Also- can I just add how much I love it when kids are just kids and do things like this? In this rest stop in Ohio my kids foraged the forest for every possible stray stick and made an un-lit campire that I think Bear Grylls would have been proud of.
4. AN ATTITUDE OF FLEXIBILITY
This is probably the most important item to “bring with you” on a road trip with kids, whether it’s an hour long or 36 hours long. The same way the rain in Florida did not stop my two year old from kicking off his shoes and literally walking in the rain, it’s most helpful when you can go into a trip knowing that some aspects of travel are going to be uncomfortable and challenging, but to embrace them with humour and joy where possible. I find it helpful to picture where I am going to be one hour from now, two hours from now, three hours from now, etc. in especially tiring moments for a little motivation and push to get through!
And of course, picturing the destination is a really motivating factor too. I just love this colourful bike parked in the middle of the town square where we vacation.
What are your road trip essentials? Come back next week when I’ll share a bit more of our Southwest Florida adventure and how we also survived a family CRUISE! Yes, we are officially crazy, lol. I had about a zillion fears surrounding going on a cruise with my 6 kids but we made it out ok, with lots of learning that I can’t wait to share with you.
Wherever the summer is taking you, I hope it’s great!