Hello fellow travel buddies and let me welcome you to our first experience of driving across the United States with our tiny humans! Yes, above is our actual route that we took approximately two years ago. Our kids were six and almost one at the time. I can’t even believe it!
Any who, let me break down the route we chose.
Our stops included: New Orleans, LA; St. Louis, MO; Insert Random Nebraska hotel here; Denver, CO; Rapid City, SD; Cody, WY & Yellowstone National Park; and Twin Falls, ID.
Most asked question we have received:
Why in the world would you choose to drive all the way across the country with your baby being so little? Well, as you may know or have read, we are a military family so we move quite often. We figured we would head as far West as we would like to go now and then check out ALL THE THINGS before this wild ride ends for us (note: we have like 15-20 more years of this).
We successfully completed our whole adventure in 10 days; From sunny Florida to the beautiful PNW! There were a few hiccups along the way…. some really funny moments but most of all it was a truly amazing experience.
Each location we visited definitely had its own unique identity and crazy adventure. I will write a post on each city we decided to stay in and talk about our how, what, where, when, and why. Obviously you don’t need a who because, SURPRISE, its us!
Here are some tips and tricks I used to create a less stressful cross country road trip experience for our family.
- Get on the same page: What do I mean? My husband and I have a very different view of what is exciting and what is a “must-do” experience. Once we knew where our end destination was going to be we had to fine tune our route. Jack Daniels Distillery tour in Tennessee is probably not going to be worth it when you are carting littles and still have to drive…. see what I mean?
- Research and cross-reference: Roadtrippers was a life saver! We were able to plot our whole route, cross reference it with local activities and attractions as well as hear opinions from fellow travelers. When we arrived to an area I used Yelp to check for local treats and eats.
- On this note, we pre-booked our hotel rooms to get the optimal rate. We knew how long we could last in a car with two littles and then mapped the area we would be in when we maxed out.
- Packing: Oh y’all let me tell you… this required previous Tetris experience. For the kids, we packed one full set of clothes in individual bags for each day we were on the road plus one extra. A grand total of 11 individual sets of clothes and then sucked all the air out to make them compact. It was quite the feat but definitely worth it in the end.
- Sets of clothes consisted of: top, bottoms, underwear/couple of diapers, socks, etc.
- Bathing suits and swimsuits were put together and the same principle was applied.
- We did the best we could for us as well… but you know how that goes with adults.
- Umbrella stroller and baby carrier for transporting our little peanut
- Entertainment: This consisted of multiple parts for our trip and we totally buckled for the travel DVD players so that helped a ton.
- Activity Tray: This was a must for my eldest. He was able to do a whole bunch of activities on a flat surface. We used a simple wooden breakfast tray because it fit well with his booster seat.
- Surprises for each State/stop: This helped SO much with keeping him focused on the trip. Our son new that each leg of the trip he would be able to open one new surprise gift. They were kept in plain sight so that he knew when each one would be opened. They were simple dollar store activities, or a small lego set (the kind you find in the checkout aisle in target), a new hot wheels car, or a new cheap kids movie.
- DVD Set: we purchased a set of DVD players that allowed each child to either watch the same movie or different ones. Emphasis on the different ones because the age gap was obviously a problem. Also, include headphones because no one wants to listen to multiple movies at the same time.
- Snacks, snacks, snacks, snacks: We packed a flat of water (also gatorade that we watered down significantly) for the ride and each child had their own cup we filled up for them. This way we weren’t wasting water. Snacks were simple like pretzels, squeezable apple sauce, fruit snacks, etc. Our daughter was still breastfeeding so she was good with supplemental little baby nibbles in between feedings.
- For Military Folks: We carried our PCS/Emergency Binder with us everywhere. If you don’t have one yet or have zero clue what I am talking about I will write a post specifically for this and include a download for the one I created.
- Don’t forget to grab your America the Beautiful pass as well. This will help with most National Parks and allows a quicker trip in and out for you. Plus it saves some dollar dollar bills y’all.
I hope some of these tips help you out if you are ever planning a road trip. I will definitely use them again because they worked in our favor but things will always need adjusting when you travel with tiny humans.
If you have any helpful tips you would like to share we would love to hear them!
Until Next Time,