10 things to pack for a roadtrip
Practical Living

10 things to remember to pack for a road trip with little kids (under 5).

1 : Some type of screen/T.V. entertainment

I know what you’re thinking, iPad! And you would be partially right, if that’s even a thing.

We don’t allow our kids screens (other than T.V.), we had a problem when my eldest was younger and we have him the phone with YouTube kids on and it altered his behavior in such a dramatic manner, we opted to remove it completely.

With that said, I downloaded their favourite YouTube episodes of Blippy, Pocoyo and Coilbook. They were then allowed to watch, at a distance, across the car. This was only dished out in 45min increments and ONLY as a last resort. We did have a horrible second last day of our trip and decided to give the phones to the kids on the last day to play easy games, and if you watched my Insta-stories on the day you would have seen the aftermath of tears and stupor.

2: Creative and learning activities

We had a Trunki full of toys, crayons and books to keep them occupied for half an hour at a time. More on the Trunki HERE.

Also, spotting trucks or trees or red cars helps to keep the trip fun.

I try to educate my kids along the journey, something my mom did when traveling South Africa as a kid, point out the different roadside crops, birds, animals, towns, mountains, rivers and bridges. It’s such a big part of the journey for me it’s almost automatic.

3. Lunch boxes with familiar snacks.

I forgot this crucial item this trip, to my peril. My budget has suffered with all the take out foods and drinks we bought the first day because I forgot the padkos (home made picnic food for the car).

What I USUALLY do is pack each kid a lunch box similar to the one they would get for school. It’s compact, neat and familiar to them. They grab and eat in the car, also drink bottles filled with their favourite juice or water and that means you can keep driving if you need to, without having to add an extra stop for take away.

I keep the padkos familiar so that they actually eat it. There’s nothing new and weird in a padkos lunchbox, I do add sweets to keep them happy though, it’s not all boring sambos.

4. Medical kit close at hand.

With young kids (and a hubby with a sensitive stomach) I ALWAYS travel with quite a big medical kit. I have one kid prone to croup, and the other one is too young to tell me what’s wrong so I pack for the basics.

  • Thermometer
  • Stomachs – nausea meds, anti-vomiting and electrolytes.
  • Fever – mild and strong pain meds for both kids and adults.
  • Croup, everything relating to croup – Nebulizer, neb meds, adrenaline, masks the works.
  • Sunscreen, anti-histamine cream and lip ice.

This may seem a bit excessive, but when you have a croup kid, you’ll understand how unnerving it can be after a fun day out to wake up at 02:00 with a child that can’t breathe and you need to find a hospital in a strange city.

I won’t take that chance.

We’ve been trained to use the adrenaline, and we only use it in an absolute emergency. The Nebulizer saves us a trip to hospital at least once a month or more and when I’m traveling I like to keep the risks to a minimum.

We had two kids recovering from a horrid flu that had done a run through our family, I was in the middle of my treatment when we left, so I needed to be extra cautious that we didn’t have a relapse on our time away.

Nothing ruins a holiday like sick kids, right?!

The nausea meds are a must, eat something weird, catch a bug, and my husband gets a funny stomach for literally nothing, so it was more for him, but he didn’t end up needing it, thank God!

5. Pin some cool play spots along the route.

Check your road trip route and pin some well recommended kid friendly stops along the route.

There were a few places we wanted to make a point of stopping at, and the night before we left we pinned them on our Google maps so that we wouldn’t have to search for them while driving.

Great restaurants with kiddies play areas, fun family tourist activities, or parks along the roadside to give everyone a chance to stretch their legs and burn off some steam.

6. Vomit alert.

Yup, it happened to us.

Our youngest was cranky, like super cranky and we couldn’t figure bout what wrong. We stopped for lunch and the kids ran the play park silly. Got back in the car and he was STILL cranky. I was about to loose it when he projectile vomited all over the back seat, himself and his car seat.

We were two hours from our overnight accommodation, and luckily, just outside a small town.

We pulled over and I got him out the car, we grabbed the medical box out the back and in went the anti nausea meds. I was so grateful for having my stash with me, that we could help him feel better almost immediately. We drove a small distance to a nearby gas station to do a quick clean up of the car.

We managed to clean up the little one, the car and the seat in about 20 minutes and we’re back on the road with a smiley, happy, non-vomiting toddler!

7, 8, 9 & 10 Other handy items I have in the car:

  • Wet wipes
  • Garbage bags/nappy bags
  • A face cloth.
  • Fresh water to drink.
  • An old towel.

11. BONUS ITEM Pack your sense of humour.

I cannot stress this enough, if you cannot be flexible with the ‘well laid plan’ or have the ability to laugh at yourself and the crazy bits of life, then please don’t road trip with small kids.

You’ll hate it.

Even on a normal day with small kids there are curve balls a plenty, on a road trip it’s amplified. Sitting for long hours in their car seats is soul destroying for them, that’s why I try to make it as fun as possible (without renting a circus or loosing my mind).

I try to plan regular breaks outside the car, and we split the 8 hour trip into two with an overnight stop half way. It gives them a chance to re-set, play with their toys and be free of restrictions.

I hope this helps you to plan better for your road trip, and I sincerely hope you don’t have to deal with any vomit, ever.

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