Traveling with the DeLongs

Posted by  | Tuesday, June 8, 2010  at 3:27 PM  
I've found that traveling with little ones is utterly exhausting, but very rewarding. I love all the fun memories we make and hearing my 3-year old talk about a trip for months afterwards. I am constantly amazed by all that she remembers!

Our amount of travel varies in correlation to the stages of our kids. For example, Karlie (now 16 months) absolutely HATED the car until she was a year old. She never fell asleep, even as a newborn, and I would spend the duration of our car rides turned around in an illegal manner, trying to soothe her. So her first year we traveled as little as possible. Karis (now 3), on the other hand, was an easy baby and we went on many trips throughout her first year.

Our current normal travel consists of a 3 1/2 hour trip every few months to see the grandparents and a few trips to the beach during the summer. Since our girls are at pleasant traveling stages right now and we know that next year will be more difficult with a new baby, we have decided that this is our summer/fall to travel a lot! We just recently made a huge (for us :) 7 hour trip to Seabrook Island and although the car ride was very taxing, it was well worth it! (I blogged about what I learned that particular trip HERE.) Visiting the grandparents is usually fairly easy, because once we arrive, they take care of everything! But beach trips take a lot more planning and that is currently what is going on in my head right now. Here are my thoughts/tips in no particular order:

I totally agree with Leah that snacks are a huge help! Bring lots of snacks and save them for when the kids get fussy. Here is a list of my favorite healthy snacks that I now reference when planning for trips.

Consider having the kids split a "normal" meal instead of buying them each a kids meal when eating out. My family doesn't do fast food. I'm kind of a health nut, and I'm actually starting to rub off on my husband (finally!). So on car trips, we usually stop at someplace like Cracker Barrel. (We figure it is the closest to real food we can get on the road). We love it because it gives the girls a decent break so they can stretch their legs and it helps to get some energy out. Last time, we raced them up and down the porch and danced for about 20 minutes before getting back in the car. I'm sure that people must have thought we were crazy, but it really helped the girls. Cracker Barrel is more expensive, but splitting the meal saves money. Last time, the girls and I all split a grilled chicken tender meal. Because of all the sides and bread, and it was plenty for all 3 of us.

Buy a new CD or "hide" a favorite one for about a month before a big trip. Save it for when the ride gets too long and the tempers get short. We stumbled upon an old favorite on our last trip and I was amazed at how excited the girls were to hear it again and how they instantly calmed down and stayed peaceful for the duration of the CD.

Stickers can be entertaining for quite a while! I randomly bought a pack of those neon circle label stickers at the grocery store as we were leaving town and they turned out to be the best distraction for my 16 month old. They were really easy for her to get off and she was quite happy decorating a notebook (and her car seat :) for a good 30 minutes! My 3-year old LOVES sticker books (a book with a bunch of stickers in the middle of the book and she has to figure out which page they go on).

Take lots of pictures and put them in some kind of a book as soon as possible. My daughter LOVES looking at pictures of past trips, and it helps her to remember even more. She still talks about a beach trip we took when she was just a year old because she looks at the pictures so often.

My main job when preparing for a long trip is meal planning. Our family usually tries to save money by using our kitchen instead of eating out. We might have one special night for eating out, but the rest of the meals are up to me. As much as I enjoy cooking, however, I don't want to spend my vacation slaving away. Instead, I make ahead several of these meals that freeze well and have them all ready to go in the oven when we need them.

My husband prefers duffle bags over suitcases because he says they compress easily for packing and only take up as much space as we pack. We bought THESE inexpensive bags at Target in different colors for all of us and we have been really pleased with them. Every time he packs the car, my husband mentions how glad he is that we switched to duffle bags :)

A wagon is helpful for almost every trip! We just recently got a van and have been able to bring our wagon on trips for the first time. We have taken it on a camping trip and a beach trip and have been incredibly thankful for it both times! On our last trip, we packed all the beach toys right inside it and it was all ready for us when we arrived. Our particular beach had a LONG trail to get to the shore and the girls were always grateful for a ride home after playing all morning in the hot sun.

Go with grandparents or friends whenever possible so that you can relax more and maybe even get a date with your husband!


Curt, Mariah, & Carli Badura said...


Leah F said...

I love your list of healthy snacks, and especially like the idea of a wagon for vacations. Most of our trips are to see family and not really 'vacation destinations', but the wagon is a stroke of brilliance. Thanks!

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