Road-Tripping with Toddlers

Well, we made it to Florida and back….barely. The drive there wasn’t too bad, besides the fact that it was pouring down rain for about 70 percent of the drive. The girls were pretty well-behaved, and we had the assistance of my parents. That, coupled with free move downloads from Netflix and the excitement of warm weather made the trip there manageable and rather un-eventful (besides a small puke incident from Rowe and a brief 25 minute bout of being “lost”, and my mother cutting open her head in the van).

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The drive home, on the other hand, was pretty much a nightmare. We left my grandparents’ house in in N. Ft. Myers at around 7:15am. It usually takes 5ish hours to get to Georgia. We had our luggage carrier strapped on (this carrier is about 20+ years old, by the way), the girls in their seats with their morning milk, and some tunes on the radio. Our goal was to stop for breakfast just north of Tampa, so around 9am-ish.

Well, about an hour or so into our drive we hit some traffic. Our GPS gave us an alternate root so we thought maybe we would take it. No sooner had we pulled of the highway that we realized that Rowe had puked on herself! We pulled over on the side of a road, cleaned her up, changed her close and Nick checked on the luggage carrier. It was getting loose! And the car was beginning to smell. Ugh.

Rather than risk getting lost off the route, we decided to hop back on the highway. 9:00 came and went and we STILL hadn’t made it to Tampa, thanks to traffic. We finally passed Tampa at around 10:00, pulled off to get gas and breakfast. While we were getting gas we realized Lennon had thrown up! I stripped her down and took her into the gas station to clean her up. The women’s restroom was “occupied”. I waited a bit but I had a practically naked toddler covered in puke so I just went for it and took her into the men’s. I cleaned her up in the nasty sink and changed her clothes. There goes another half hour.

We actually had a rather enjoyable breakfast at Cracker Barrel, and then decided to find somewhere to buy more ratchet straps for the luggage carrier because we were convinced it was going to fly off the top of the car and cause a major accident. Luckily there was an auto store nearby, and Nick was able to re-secure the carrier in about a half an hour. We were now 4 hours into our trip and only about 1.5 hours from where we started.

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I forgot to mention, we bought a tiny can of Lysol for $5.00 at the gas station and doused the car in it. Best $5.00 I ever spent.

Throughout the rest of Florida we hit traffic jam after traffic jam after traffic jam. I think we FINALLY made it to Georgia around 4:30/5:00pm. It took us twice as long as it should have to get through Florida. At around 6:15pm we stopped at a McDonald’s with a PlayPlace so that the girls could move around and release some energy. Well guess what…there was a bus load of kids inside and in line! We didn’t even get to place our order for about 20 minutes. While we were waiting for the crowd to thin, we changed the girls. But I had left their night diapers in the car. Nick ran out to get them and THE KEYS WERE LOCKED IN THE CAR. Our van, a Town & Country, isn’t supposed to even allow that to happen.

Thankfully I have AAA. We called, and were told someone should be there after 8:00pm. That’s 1.5 hours to spend at a McDonald’s with two tired, cranky toddlers. Oh boy. We even tried calling the local police station to see if they could help….no dice. After we ate Nick decided to go and check the car doors one more time. By some miracle, the passenger door opened and we were able to get the keys! Hallelujah. Back on the road around 7:15.

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The rest of the trip included cranky babies who we refused to give milk again in fear of another puking episode, rain storms, snow, and a very tired mom and dad. We finally made it home at 7:30am. Our 18 hour road trip took 24 hours. But hey, we survived!

Will we do it again? Maybe. Will we be prepared should there be a next time…you know it! Here are some of my recommendations before you venture out on your next toddler-accompanied road trip.

TODDLER ROADTRIP ESSENTIALS

  1. Multiple changes of clothes
  2. A bag with wipes, diapers, snacks, Tylenol, diaper cream, etc. that is easily accessible. I recommend overnight diapers or to size up for the drive. Less leaks!
  3. Multiple bottles/sippys so you don’t have to wash them all the time
  4. LYSOL and disinfectant wipes
  5. A tablet with movies and tv shows pre-downloaded (and a charger)
  6. Dress your kids in layers and bring blankets
  7. First Aid kit
  8. Extra bags for trash, puke clothes, dirty wipes, etc.
  9. Busy bags! Below is what we had in ours. Each of the girls has their own backpack, and the contents below were in each pack. Except for the LeapPad and the driving simulator toy – we only packed one of those.

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Items in each busy bag: Blocks, memory cards, books, silly frog, bunny clapper, lightup bunny wand, toy phone, toy remote, stickers, stuffed rabbit, finger puppet, books, new McDonald’s toys (I didn’t open these until we were on the trip so they were “new”), snacks. Not pictured: sippy cup, princess tambourine, blanket, wubbanub.

  1. We did not have these for this trip, but will be a necessity next trip…the girls love them!
  2. Kids songs radio station and/or playlist
  3. Calming bottles – I attempted to make one of these and failed. I think I messed up the glitter glue/water ratio. Then I never found the time to try it again!
  4. Grandma & grandpa – I highly suggest multiple adult travel companions if you have the space. My parents were unbelievably helpful on our drive down.

Good luck to you on your next road trip, may your adventure be smooth and uneventful!

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