We have always traveled quite a lot as a family. Whether it’s going home to see our parents or taking vacations, we have never shied away from going on adventures as a family of 5. Our 7-year-old is in a wheelchair and we have a rear entry accessible minivan, so we’ve had to figure out travel accommodations to work for our lifestyle. Through our travels, I have learned some tips and tricks that make the road easier with small children. These can benefit all families so check out my 5 go-to tips for traveling by vehicle.
1. STORAGE TUBS- I use storage tubs to pack our things rather than suitcases. All of our “luggage” goes behind our daughter’s wheelchair, so when we make stops we need to unload everything to get our daughter and her chair out. Having things in storage tubs makes loading and unloading faster and easier. Tubs also fit more items than a suitcase, are stackable, and come in handy as a makeshift table for our toddler in hotel rooms.
BONUS: At the end of the trip, you just have to throw all of your dirty clothes in the tub and drop it in the laundry room when you get home!!
2. YOGA MAT- this is crucial if you have a kid who wears diapers! I have a thick yoga mat rolled up and tucked away in the van. There is never a changing table around when your toddler has a blowout. UGH! AND UNFORTUNATELY, the majority of places we stop do not have adult-sized handicap accessible changing tables for our 7-year-old. So… our only option is changing her in the back of our van. The yoga mat is way more sanitary and comfortable than the floor. It’s a sad truth, but one that many families of loved ones have to deal with until our society wakes up and sees the desperate need for accessibility for EVERYONE in every place!
BONUS USE: After sanitizing it (of course) I roll it up and put it under the sheet in a hotel room to act as a rail/bumper to prevent my littles from falling off the bed. You are WELCOME!!
Oh and moms...you can ACTUALLY use it as a yoga mat if you need some zen at the end of a long travel day.
3. FOOD STORAGE CONTAINERS- I pack small items, snacks, or odds and ends in food storage containers. They are especially great when you are in a hotel room. Sometimes the “to go” containers from restaurants are too big to fit in the mini-fridge, so they are great for leftovers. I NEVER throw food away, so I use this trick all the time. Our daughter also requires pureed food, so I use them to whip up some pudding or mashed potatoes. Since plastic containers are also hard, you can pack more delicate items (i.e. cameras, medicine) in them to prevent getting smashed or broken.
4. ZIP LOCK BAGGIES – I also use these to pack small items, snacks, socks, and even toddler clothes. AND this may be TMI, but we’ve had to use them going down the road as a barf bag. ☹ EEEK! But it’s better than some other alternatives. You can store clothes that have gotten wet, pack muddy shoes in them and even use as an ice pack in your cooler. DISCLAIMER: PLEASE do not eat the ice inside if you’ve used them for dirty shoes. LOL!
5. ACTIVITY BAGS!!!- these are crucial and a complete life saver! All of our kids pack a small activity bag that has snacks, games, toys, etc. We make them keep it within arm’s reach so that we don’t have to make a stop every time someone needs something. With my toddler, I always keep a backup toy and snack in my activity bag (yes! I even pack an activity bag) because there is no doubt she is going to drop one of her items and have a full-blown meltdown because she can’t reach it. We already make enough stops as it is, so I am NOT about to pull over because Minnie Mouse’s shoe is on the floorboard!
We LOVE taking trips and making memories as a family. Being organized and using these tips have made things a lot less stressful. I hope some of these are helpful to and your family as you travel this holiday season! If you have any tips, please share them with me because I need all the help I can get! Safe travels!