Road trips with kids are always a challenge. But for parents of twins, it can be even more difficult to plan and execute the perfect family vacation. We’ve been there! With two little ones in tow, we know that packing enough supplies is essential but also hard work. And when you’re on the road for hours at a time, it’s easy to get caught up in your own headspace and forget about what your kids need too. Planning ahead is key to successful family vacations with toddlers or preschoolers – especially if they have special needs like food allergies or sensory sensitivities. Here are our top 5 holiday road trip do’s and don’ts for families traveling with twins this season…
Holiday road trip don’ts
Let’s first go over some holiday road trip don’ts. Some are about safety, some are about convenience, and some are just about saving your own sanity on the road. Whatever the reason, these 5 tips are critical to a successful holiday road trip with your twins.
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Don’t try a new “short-cut”
Taking a new route or an unplanned stop can throw your trip into chaos and completely derail well-laid plans. Trying a new exit you heard was quicker may lead to no toddler-twin-friendly stops or no stops at all! There is nothing worse than getting stuck at an unfamiliar stop with no place to pull over, with a toddler that suddenly develops motion sickness all over the back seat!
GPS is going to be king on this trip. Don’t deviate unless you really have to in search of a bathroom that wasn’t marked on the highway. Chances are, you’ll drive 20 minutes out of your way and it would have been faster to just stay the course until you come upon one on your actual route.
Don’t pack ALL your luggage out of reach
Packing luggage for multiple people — including young twins — is a whole different story. Do not neatly pack and tuck away all of the diapers, wipes, and clothes and secure them into the luggage rack, leaving yourself with no supplies in an emergency. Only pack away the luggage that you know you won’t be using until you get to your destination.
Another thing to think of is overnight stays. We did a cross country drive and the last thing we did was pack one overnight bag for us adults and another for the kids. No one wanted to lug 8 days’ worth of belongings into a hotel for one overnight stay on our way to our destination.
Don’t forget the snacks and entertainment
Whatever you do, do not fail to pack toddler-friendly food. Planning to stop and grab something on the way doesn’t always work out if there is a traffic delay or you get off schedule and then – BOOM! – hunger strikes without warning. Remember that the kids will probably want to snack out of boredom so pack some junk, but pack some healthy snacks, too.
If you have older children along for the ride, don’t forget to pack car games, DVD players, books, portable electronics, and other items to help pass the time in the car. And don’t forget to pack something for YOU too! The kids will fall asleep at some point and if you’re too wired to sleep you’ll want a paperback or Sudoku for yourself while your partner drives their leg of the trip.
Don’t run out of diapers or wipes
Pack a few extras in case of emergencies. You never know when your kiddos might have an upset stomach or extra wet diapers. An extra travel pack of wipes and 2 diapers per kiddo is usually good enough for a day. Any more than that and you will probably need to stop and reassess your travel goals. No one wants to be stuck in a car with a sick kid. And don’t forget hand sanitizer in case you don’t have access to wash your hands at a rest stop. Not all rest stops have restrooms!
Don’t doom your holiday road trip
Don’t pick fights or sweat the small stuff. Try not to be irrational about things you can’t change. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. Seriously don’t sweat the small stuff. Let the kids eat the snacks, let them argue about the shape of that cloud. Instead of getting worked up, remind yourself that they are just as bored as you are and might be a little more likely to act out. Try to use distraction as opposed to punishment when you can.
Another big one is to prep your car. Don’t forget to keep an eye on your gas gauge and tire pressure. Make sure you have cash for the road and change for air, just in case. Be positive you can find your AAA card if you need it and you have a working jack and spare tire with air in it.
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Holiday road trip do’s
Let’s take a look at the do’s to ensure a successful road trip. If you are getting ready to head out, you’re not going to want to miss these tips!
Be prepared. Be very prepared!
Pre-plan your route! Plan out when and where you would like to stop for diaper changes, sippy cup refills, snacks, and a place to stretch your legs. Pick a place that is child-friendly, relatively clean, and safe. We map out state-maintained rest areas that are well lit, cleaned regularly, and have diaper changing stations along with vending options. Plan your drive around your little ones’ schedule and stick to your normal schedule as much as you can.
Realize you might need to be a little flexible to allow for the unexpected, but having a plan is the best place to start. If you have to deviate from the plan, get back on it asap to keep on track.
Pack wisely for your holiday road trip
Pack two travel bags that you can keep handy. One of these bags will be just for snacks and drinks for you and the kids. Make sure you can ALWAYS get to this bag while on the road and hand things back to your little ones in the backseat. Make sure the other bag is stocked with diapers, wipes, and an extra set of clothes for each twin.
Also pack a zip-top bag to put dirty/soiled diapers in and a separate zip-top bag for soiled clothes in case there is a diaper blow-out, car sickness, or a spilled drink. This one should be easy to get to at a rest stop. Let’s face it, no one wants to be riding in a car with a blow-out Onsie.
Pack snacks and extra drinks
Plan ahead for snack needs that are safe, require no prep in the car, don’t require refrigeration, and are easy for your young twins to feed themselves. Invest in portable snack containers and disposable containers for easy clean-up. Pretzel sticks, Cheerios, and puffs are good options.
Now is NOT the time to let your 14-month-old practice her spoon skills with a yogurt. You don’t want that in the car, or even at a rest stop. Avoid mess whenever you can be provided the easiest snacks possible.
Be prepared for diaper changes
Poop happens, and for us, it usually happens at the worst possible times. Have extra diapers, wipes, diaper ointment of your choice, clean clothes, changing pad/blanket, and a change of clothes easily accessible for quick stops and changes.
You could be miles from a rest stop or gas station. If you’ve never changed a baby in a car, you just haven’t lived! Having the necessary supplies on hand is strongly recommended.
Make the best of your holiday road trip
Do make memories. Sing silly songs. Play fun car games like I spy or the license plate challenge. Have a good time! Enjoy your family time. Enjoy your holidays! Being on the road for long periods can be stressful. Try to keep the mood light and fun.
Keep these 5 do’s and don’ts in mind for your next family vacation. From the perspective of parents who have been on many successful road trips with their own children, they offer advice about what to do and what not to do while driving during a holiday trip. Don’t forget to plan ahead by mapping out where you would like to stop for snacks or diaper changes; pack wisely with food that is easy for kids (or yourself!) to eat without making a mess; be prepared for impromptu stops at gas stations or rest areas; make memories together by singing silly songs and playing games!
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Carrie English is a mother of four who lives in North Central Pennsylvania along with her husband, Jason. Her children range from age 12 to her one-year-old toddler twins. She is a full-time working professional, sleep-deprived lover of coffee, hugs, and her family. She credits her strength to her amazing family and her faith.
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