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Road trip snacks


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Family Road Trip Snacks

You have researched your family vacation destination and chosen a location within driving distance. You made the accommodation reservation, planned activities for the trip, and packed clothes and toiletries for your entire family! The kids have toys and books to keep them occupied during your journey. Now it is time to get this vacation started. But wait, what about road trip snacks for the kids during your family road trip? Before you hit the road you need some quick and easy kid friendly snacks for your road trip.

Family road trips are flexible, allowing you to go directly to your destination when needed. Or you can stop and experience fun things along the way. There’s so many wonderful memories to create on a family road trip, and it goes much smoother when you have a selection of road trip snack for kids (and the adults). Certainly everyone is much happier and willing to ride for longer if they’re not starving! This post is about the Best Road Trip Snacks for Kids. It includes a FREE printable download below of our Road Trip Snacks List. These are our favorite family snacks, which your kids will LOVE!

Use the Table of Contents below to quickly skip to any section of this post.

Road Trip Snacks

Sometimes it feels like the front seat of the car may as well be a full-service restaurant! Having multiple kinds of snacks for hungry or bored kiddos is necessary for everyone’s happiness and helps reduce the number of annoying stops just to grab a snack. We are sure to include some snacks packed with protein to prevent hangry kids or so we can all hold out for that cool place to stop just one more hour down the road.

Even if you don’t end up eating everything you packed while on the road, you can have those snacks and use them for the duration of your trip. Furthermore, I always prefer to carry snacks for the kids, instead of buying something while we’re out! So packing plenty of snacks really is a win-win situation!

Easy travel snacks with kids

Road Trip Snack Hack:

We love the convenience of ordering a Prime Pantry box, when we are preparing to head out of town on a family vacation. A few minutes online can save you hours in a grocery store or two.

If you have an Amazon prime account or sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime here then you can have a Prime Pantry box delivered for free with only a $35.00 purchase.

We have included handy links on all the recommended items below to make your shopping fast and convenient.

Download FREE Printable Road Trip Snacks List

Here’s our favorite kid-friendly snacks. You can download our FREE printable list of snacks to take on your next family road trip:

The Best Road Trip Snacks for Kids

We have included more details, photos and handy links below to the items listed. Feel free to use the links below (assume all links are affiliate links that we earn a small commission). Using any of the affiliate links in our posts will not cost you anymore than not using the link. However, using affiliate links in our posts are a huge help in resourcing this blog. 💖 Thank you BE Family! 💖

Trail Mix 

Healthy on the go snacks for Kids

Take a healthy nut snack and spice it up with dried fruit, some chocolate, or yogurt covered raisins. Our kids love dried raisins, cranberries, cherries or apricots. We make sure to pack individual servings in a small reusable container.

Pre-packaged snacks are also a handy solution when all there’s time for us to throw together an Amazon order.


Fruit

Pre-sliced apples, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, oranges. Think fruits that can be eaten with your hands. Pre-wash and pre-slice before you leave, and with kids under the age of 5, skip the grapes.

Nuts or Nut Butter

Nuts are a healthy snack packed with protein. Our kids love peanuts, whole almonds, sliced almonds, pistachios, cashews or pecans. I typically opt for roasted or unsalted nuts, to avoid the unnecessary salt making us thirsty. Nut Butter (such as peanut butter, almond butter or sunflower seed spread) in individual serving sizes are great to dip with sliced apples. Obviously, if you have young children or a child with a nut allergy then avoid these options.

Granola or Protein Bars

Easy snacks on a road trip with kids

We keep granola bars and protein bars on-hand for family road trips at all times! Our family can be picky about the fast food and restaurants where we choose to eat during family road trips.

Kids and adults alike can make it that extra hour to the food destination we somehow all agreed on when you’ve got an extra granola bar for everyone.


Drinkable Greek Yogurt Drinks / String Cheese

These are another easy way to pack protein for the road. We always carry a small cooler and these take up very little room. 


Snack Size Sandwiches / Wraps

Being able to grab one more substantial meal while still driving down the road gives us flexibility as well as a healthier option for one meal. We pack sandwiches cut into quarters and wraps cut in half for small meals as we drive.

Veggies & Hummus

Cut up some veggies and pack single serve hummus or ranch dip. Some of our go-to vegetables for road trip travel are baby carrots, sliced cucumbers, snow peas, red, orange, and yellow peppers.

Pack sandwiches for easy snacks for kids

Road Trip Hack:

You can use a traditional school lunch Box like shown in the picture for separating out your veggies and sandwiches for each child.

We prefer a Bento Box, which allows a lot more flexibility for separation of dips, vegetables, sandwiches, and even sliced up fruits.

They come in different colors. So grab the one that suits your fancy. Click here to see all the Bento Boxes for Kids


Applesauce or Fruit & Veggie Pouches


Crunchy Snacks

Goldfish, veggie straws, pretzels, animal crackers, mini rice cakes, tortilla snacks, mini graham crackers, Chex mix in a handy snack catcher.


Popcorn

Easy, non-greasy, and healthy, popcorn is an easy road trip snack. You can pop your own or purchase it ready to go.


Best Kid Road Trip Snacks for family travel

Sweet Treats

We aren’t fond of giving our kids a bunch of sugar in the car. Let’s face it, asking a kid (or even us!) to sit still in the car after a bunch of sugar just seems downright impossible. But what’s better than a small sweet treat to celebrate the halfway point of the trip? We usually stick to something we need to order beforehand with less sugar, like organic fruit snacks or gummies or a lollipop. And on occasion we’ll enjoy one of my childhood favorites – a Rice Krispies Treat! We all love chocolate in our family but keep in mind it must be packed in the cooler to avoid a mess!


Water

And what about something to drink? Water is always an easy option. Packing water in a reusable container means you can refill your container along the way. 

We love the Thermos Funtainer for Kids, which is a 12 oz container available in MANY different colors and character designs. It is an insulated 12 hour cold drink stainless steel thermos, and the BEST part… it does not sweat when filled with ice!

Another great option is the Thermos Foogo Vacuum Insulated Straw Bottle, which is also stainless steel. It is slightly smaller, at 10 oz, so this may be easier for your toddler to hold. Either way we love both of these water bottles and have used them for years.


Keeping kids regular while traveling

Let’s talk about the scoop on poop!
When any of us sit for the majority of the day, things can stop moving so well. There are some tricks to keeping things moving.
Likewise, watch for too many binding foods. There are so many common kid favorites that can be binding. Be sure to not allow too many on road trip day. Particularly binding foods are bananas, cheese, and sugary snacks.

Also, fiber is your friend. This is where fruits and veggies come in.
Our kids love hummus with their veggies and this gives them an extra boost of fiber. There are also other ways to incorporate fiber on road trip day.

Popcorn is an easy one and granola bars can be great too. Veggie pouches are a sneaky addition for even the pickiest kid.

Furthermore, regular 15-minute breaks with a short walk throughout the day.
Unless someone has to sprint to the bathroom as soon as the car stops, take a few minutes and stretch your legs before heading to the bathroom. This can often help move things along and make it much easier for kids to poop while traveling. The whole family can benefit from these breaks.

Family Road Trip Snacks for kids

Family Road Trip with Kids

A road trip with kids means being prepared for messes! Therefore, napkins or paper towels and baby wipes are handy for sticky hands or a bigger mess. Also, hand sanitizer is a must with all of the eating that happens on a road trip. We prefer to use one that doesn’t seem to leave a taste behind. A few plastic bags are handy for trash, to wrangle a big mess, and just in case of stomach upset. For helpful tips for preventing or dealing with Car Sickness in Kids read this post.

Planning a family vacation doesn’t have to be stressful if you prepare ahead of time. So, before your next family road trip make sure to read our complete guide with everything you need to know about how to Simplify a Road Trip with Kids.

And check out our posts about home vehicle maintenance to learn how to get your car ready for your next road trip or about traveling with a potty training toddler or Strategies to Stay Healthy while Traveling with Children. Plus the best family travel games to find games to entertain the kids on your next road trip.

Road Trip Snacks for Kids Printable Checklist

The Road Trip Snack Wrap-up

We know that taking these kid friendly road trip snacks will help to reduce your stress and bring peace to the backseat. We would love to hear from your family about your favorite road trip snacks.

And remember, let’s BE Family so you can enjoy the journey.
Until next time,
💕💖 Ruth

BE Family Travel

BE Family Products Inc. or (BE Family Travel) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Using any of the links in this blog post does NOT cost you anything but does help us big time to support the continued content creation on this blog. Thank you so much for partnering with us, let’s BE Family.


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Have you ever had a vehicle break down or have issues while you’re on a road trip with your kids? Ever had to worry about how and where to get this fixed when you’re out of town? It has happened to us more than once. Each time it has been scary, worrisome, and at the very least extremely inconvenient and frustrating. Not to worry, the following information is designed to help you get your car ready for your next road trip.

Following the instructions below will greatly reduce the chance that something will go wrong with your vehicle while you are on your next family road trip. We have learned from our own mistakes and want to share our knowledge with you. Our hope is this information will help make your next road trip, vacation, or travels go much smoother, so you can be as safe as possible, and make beautiful memories together.

Helpful ways to prepare your car for a road trip

There is a lot of information below. If you don’t need it all we have broken it up into convenient sections and you can use the table of contents to skip to a certain section. If there is anything you think we need to add to our list, please let us know. We can learn from each other and together we can travel better.

Start under the hood to get your car ready for a road trip

When we look under the hood the one thing that will leave you stranded quicker than anything else is the battery. The battery is like the heart of your car. If it quits you are not going anywhere soon. A good battery is important to get your car ready for a road trip.

Battery check

There are several things you need to check with your battery. It is very important to check your battery periodically, because sometimes waiting until it begins to show signs of weakness can put you at risk of being stranded.

How to check your battery to prepare your car for your family road trip

This section will teach you how to check the battery yourself. Also, ways to determine if there are more serious alternator issues looming. Checking your car battery is one of the easiest tasks you can do to your car.

If you do not feel confident, or you do not like to check the battery yourself, you can take your vehicle to an auto parts store or car battery shop and most will run these tests for you for free.

Visual Inspection

First, do a visual inspection of the two terminals to make sure it is free of rust, corrosion, or battery acid build-up. If any of these are present, take it to a mechanic or a car battery shop to be professionally checked.

How to test a car battery without a meter

Time needed: 15 minutes.

How to test a car battery without a meter.

  1. Turn on your headlights and see if they are bright and have a steady consistent glow.

  2. Leave the headlights on and crank the engine of your vehicle.

  3. Step back and watch the lights again.

  4. You are looking for the same result – a steady, consistent, and bright glow to the headlights.

  5. Crank the engine of your vehicle

    With the vehicle in park, lightly and slowly press the gas pedal and hold as the engine revs to a higher RPMs.

  6. Have a helper check the lights as the engine is revving.

  7. Once again you want to see consistency in the headlights without a considerable dimming or brightening while it’s being revved or after letting off the pedal.

  8. If you see dimming, or an inconsistency in the brightness of the lights during these tests that is a sign of a weak battery or larger issue. I would take the vehicle to be further checked by a mechanic or replace the battery.

Voltage Test

With a voltage test you can ensure that your battery is holding the right voltage. You will need a simple voltmeter for this. If you don’t own one they can be handy to have and are very reasonably priced like this one.

With the ignition switch still turned off. Connect the leads from your voltmeter, like in the picture. The red lead clipped on the positive (red) terminal. And the black lead clipped on the negative (black) terminal.

After the meter is connected check that the battery reads around 12.6 volts or above. Then leave your meter connected and crank the engine. With the engine running the battery should measure around 13.7 to 14.7 volts.

If your voltages lineup then you are good to go and can rest assured your battery is operating optimally. But, if your car battery is reading substantially lower you will want to have it checked by a mechanic.

Watch this step-by-step video about how to test a car battery with a voltmeter or a Multimeter.

Load Test

A load test is a deeper check to see how your car battery performs under expected peak load conditions. This test is checking your car battery’s cold cranking amps, which can determine if the load battery can deliver for 30 seconds at 0*F without falling below 7.2 volts.

When your battery passes a load test you can rest easy. Knowing that you can simultaneously play the radio, your mini-van’s DVD player, have the AC on max, while charging all your devices, headlights on, and maintain 70 mph with no issues. A good battery is the first step to get your car ready for a road trip.

Check your car’s fluids before going on a road trip

The life blood of your car is the fluids. Your car will run and operate with low or dirty fluids but it can be detrimental to the long term health of your vehicle.

Visual fluid leak check

One of the quickest and easiest ways to visually see if you have a fluid leak is to look for spots under the car. This is important to get your car ready for road trip. You can use a large cardboard box broken down flat. Then slide the cardboard under the front of the car between the front wheels and leave overnight. When you are ready to check, pull the cardboard out and see if there are spots on it.

Another quick test is the sniff test. While the engine is running and hot. Can you smell burning? Do you see smoke? That is a sign that a fluid of some sort is dripping onto your hot engine.

Top 6 fluids to check to get your car ready for a road trip

Here are the different types of fluids you need to check and how to find or distinguish them. Let’s pop that hood and get rocking. First, to check your fluids you will want to park your vehicle on a level area. Turn the engine off and let the vehicle sit for at least 10 mins.

What fluids should I check before driving on a road trip

1. Engine Oil

The engine oil is the most important fluid for your vehicle, next to fuel. To check your engine oil there is a dipstick, usually a yellow (sometimes orange) ring or handle. In some cases it may also say engine oil or have a small logo of an old-timey oil can with one drip coming from the spout.

First, pull the dipstick out using the ring or handle. Be careful as it is really long, so have a paper towel in the other hand to catch it near the bottom just before it comes out. Wipe the bottom of the dipstick with your paper towel, where the level markers are. Then reinsert the dipstick all the way back in until it locks or won’t go in any further. Pull it once again. However, this time watch the markers at the end to see where the oil level is located. There is a minimum and a maximum marker. The optimal oil level should fall within hash or X marks, between the two markers.

How to add oil

If your oil is below the minimum marker then you need to add some fresh oil to bring it up. But, you do not want to fill above the maximum marker. Low oil could be a sign of leaking or burning oil. Both of these should be checked by a mechanic.

While you have the dipstick out check the look and feel or condition of the oil. Take a little oil and rub it between two fingers. It should feel slick and smooth, not gritty. Feeling gritty or feeling particles in the oil is a bad sign that something is wearing out.

How to check your oil to get your car ready for a road trip

Take a look at the oil and if it is an amber or yellow color then life is good and your oil is even better. When visually checking oil use the coffee rule. Anytime I can associate with coffee I do! Black oil that “looks like black coffee” means it needs an oil and filter change. Even just a darker coffee color is due for a change.
A milky color that “looks like milky coffee” means coolant is leaking into the engine.

That leads us to our next fluid.

2. Engine Coolant

Antifreeze or Coolant helps to keep your engine from overheating. Coolant only needs to be checked every 50,000 mile or so. I would still make sure it is full because you may have a leak that needs to be addressed.

To check the coolant levels open the cap on the radiator. DO NOT open the radiator cap while the engine is hot! I would absolutely let the engine cool for hours or overnight before checking. A hot radiator will spray scalding fluid out as pressure is released.

The radiator cap is usually located directly at the front in the center of the engine. It is circular in shape with two small extensions on opposite sides to allow for grip when opening. There should be a warning label not to open when hot.

With a cold engine, open the cap and visually spot the fluid close to the top. You won’t be able to see deep down inside the radiator. So, if you can see fluid it’s probably good. There is sometimes an expansion tank for coolant. A small tube will lead from near the radiator cap to the tank.

If your vehicle has an expansion tank just make sure the fluid level is between the minimum and maximum lines.

3. Brake Fluid

You need to stop, collaborate, and listen. Your brake fluid needs to be in the best possible condition. OK, I’ll stop with the Vanilla Ice references now 😂 but I need you to stop when you press the brakes so let’s check your brake fluid. The brake fluid reservoir is typically a very small plastic reservoir with a black or yellow lid. See picture.

Check your brake fluid to get your car ready for a road trip.

As with the other fluids, make sure the level falls somewhere between the minimum and maximum markers. You will find the markings on the reservoir and not on a dipstick. If low, you need to add some brake fluid, however, be aware that you get the correct type for your vehicle. Brake fluid comes in different colors. Good brake fluid should be translucent. If it’s not translucent you should have it replaced.

4. Power Steering Fluid

This one cuts deep as I just had to replace our power steering pump. Ouch! And yes, it’s the opposite of cheap. There is no set time frame to change your power steering fluid. You will just want to keep it topped up and happy.

In keeping with the common theme, there will be a small plastic reservoir with typically a black or red capped lid. Be careful not to confuse the brake fluid reservoir for the power steering fluid reservoir. Power steering fluid should have a dipstick where brake fluid typically does not.

Check the dipstick and make sure your level is between the minimum and maximum levels. And add some power steering fluid if it’s low, but keep it below the maximum.

5. Windshield Wiper Fluid

This fluid is a bit easier and a little less critical to the operation. However, after a long day of driving with the dust, bugs, and road grime you will be thankful for it. The windshield wiper reservoir is usually well marked with an obvious “windshield with spray” logo on the cap. You can choose any type of fluid. I like to go with the non-freeze type in the fall through winter months.

6. Transmission Fluid

The last of the fluids, but definitely not the least. Transmission fluid is just as important as your oil, it does pretty much the same job for your transmission as your oil does for your engine. It lubricates and cools all the gears, valves, and inner workings of the transmission.

Transmission Fluid is also a lifetime lubricant but it should be checked periodically for leaks or any other signs of possible looming issues. In order to check the transmission fluid it’s a slightly different process.

First, you locate the dipstick. If you have one it is commonly mistaken for the oil dipstick, so if you find the oil it will be the other one. This time you will need to start the engine of the vehicle, and put it in park or neutral, while you check the dipstick exactly the same way as the oil.

The fluid needs to be between the minimum and maximum lines. It should be amber or red in color and have a similar smooth feel as the oil, not gritty. If you do need to add transmission fluid, add it slowly with the engine running, then shift through the gears to allow the fluid to settle into the transmission properly.

Check your drive belts to get your car ready for a road trip

Drive belts on your vehicle are more tricky to check. Depending on your vehicle there could be one or more. Some have timing belts, alternator belts, air conditioning belts, and sometimes these belts are all controlled by a serpentine belt.

I know your eyes are most likely crossed at this point with steam blowing from your ears. The main thing to look for, or should I say listen for, is squealing. That is the most obvious sign you need some attention to one of your belts.

With the engine running and the hood raised listen to the engine for a few minutes. Also try turning on the air conditioning and you will notice a pull on the engine when the air conditioning kicks in. If you hear nothing squeaking, squealing, or squalling that is a good sign.

Here is another check on the drive belts you can make fair easily. With the engine turned off and cooled, visually locate any belts you can see. If you can reach the belt then twist it with your fingers so you can see the underside. This is where you will typically find cracking or signs or wear. Also, just by feel make sure there is tension on the belt. Excessive play in the belt, signs of wear, or cracks are a sign to get your belts inspected more closely by a mechanic.

Exterior check to get your car ready for a road trip

Next you need to check the exterior of the car, this is anything not under the hood or inside the trunk.

Windshield

Check your windshield closely for small chips or hairline cracks. In many cases your insurance company will repair these for free before they become a larger crack. Traveling or even weather changes can cause a chip or small crack to worsen suddenly. It is a lot easier to deal with these repairs at home, rather than on the road.

Windshield Wipers

Windshield wipers are often overlooked before a road trip. A bad set of wiper blades can make driving treacherous, even dangerous in bad weather. There are two parts to every wiper – the wiper arm (the long metal piece that moves back and forth) and the wiper blade. This actually works like a squeegee and ideally clears the water off to the sides of the windshield.

You can test the windshield wipers, and check the blades and arms, right in your driveway. Start by wetting the windshield with your wiper fluid by activating the button or lever inside your vehicle by the steering column. This will also make your windshield wipers turn on a few times to wipe away the fluid.

Look to see if all the fluid was properly cleared from the drivers line of sight. Typically this is in a semi-circular shape on the front windshield. Also, make sure to check the rear wiper if you have one.

To get your car ready for a road trip you should check your windshield wipers.

If there are streaks, or areas where the fluid is not being cleared properly, then change your wiper blades. In addition, if there are any pieces of the blade that appear to be loose or dragging behind the rest of the blade, then that would need to be replaced.

If one blade is bad then change both because the other blade is probably not far from needing to be replaced as well. Windshield wipers are actually very easy to change and a small investment for your family’s safety and security.

Check those mirrors

Oh say can you see? Well, let’s make sure before you head out with your family on that road trip. You want to make sure your side mirrors (wing mirrors) are clean and adjusted correctly. You may need to add a small blindspot mirror for extra safety. Some cars come standard with them these days. If not, it can leave you very vulnerable in your blind spot.

Make sure your mirrors are well adjusted for the driver. To cut down on your blind spot adjust the mirror to only show a small amount of the side of your vehicle.

Vehicle lights you should check to get your car ready for a road trip

Checking your vehicle’s lights may seem a no-brainer. Oddly enough we rarely notice when a bulb is out or a fuse is blown until someone tells us.

In this section I will help you decide if your headlights need cleaning to work at their optimal levels for safety. You will need a second person, a child, spouse, or friend to help with this part. Below are 6 different types of lights you should check to get your car ready for a road trip.

Which vehicle lights should I check to get my car ready for a road trip

Headlights

After turning on your headlights it is optimal to see two large glowing orbs. The best way to check headlights is to pull the vehicle up to a wall or garage door and stop about 5 feet away. Make sure you are parked in a level spot and you should see the lights shining on the wall. Look to make sure they are equally bright and white, not dim and yellowed. If one is less bright or more yellow than the other, then I would suggest changing them both at the same time.

Dirt can hurt your headlights performance. Or your headlights may be oxidized, and appear yellowed and foggy. Never fear, it can be a very easy fix in 15 minutes to half an hour. Use a reasonably priced headlight cleaning kit or you can DIY a kit by purchasing a few necessary items.

Here is a list of items needed for DIY headlight cleaning, with handy links to buy each:

Here is a video to take you step-by-step through the proper cleaning of oxidized headlights so they will look new again.

High Beams

While you’re up front let’s check the high beams. Your high beams are a separate bulb from your headlights. You should definitely see a huge increase in brightness level when you flip on the high beams.

Tail Lights

Make sure to check your tail lights before leaving for your next family vacation

Keep your headlights turned on and walk to the back of the car and make sure both of your tail lights are illuminated. Repeat the same process as with the headlights. Check for oxidation and that they are both equally illuminated to the same brightness level.

Note: For Headlights, High Beams, and Tail Lights if both sides are out, rather than only one bulb, then you most likely have a fuse that has blown.

Turn Signals

Now, I realize you are not all using them. However, I would prefer you do and they are working properly. Just joking. But not really 🤣🤣🤣 Your Turn Signals or Indicator Lights are located on the front, back and in some cases on the mirrors. Turn on one at a time and check from the front and back to make sure they are working correctly.

Hazard Lights

After checking your turn signals make sure to turn on your hazard lights and check those. They use the same bulb as turn signals. However, there is a chance a fuse could be out as the hazard lights operate off a different electrical wiring than the turn signals.

Daytime Running Lights

First start by checking your daytime running lights (DRL) (if you have them). DRL or lamps are designed for you to be seen, rather than to aid you in seeing.

How to check your daytime running lights before taking your car on a road trip

Without turning on your headlights stand at the front of the vehicle and look at both lights. Some DRL will not turn on until you put the vehicle in drive. Be sure to keep your foot on the brake during this test. Your DRL should emit a white, yellow, or amber light. Also, it is completely normal for your DRL to dim slightly after turning on your headlights.

Check your tires and wheels to get your car ready for a road trip

This is where the rubber meets the road… literally! You’ve got to check your shoes before you go for a run. And you have to check your tires before you head out for a road trip. Driving on bad tires could honestly put your family at risk.

Check your tire tread before a road trip

First let’s talk tread. You will want to check the tread on all four tires. To do this you will need nothing more than a quarter. Of course you can pick up a cheap Tire Tread Depth Gauge for measuring to be the most accurate. To do the quarter test. You will hold the quarter with George Washington’s head down, and stick it in the tire tread groove. Ideally part of his head will be covered. If George Washington’s entire head is showing, then you should consider a new set of tires. A good tire can last 3½ years.

Before you head off on a family vacation check the tread on your tires

The old rule of thumb was the penny test which was the same test but with a penny. It has been determined through testing in more recent years that more tread substantially aids in stopping faster.

In those tests 1/8 inch of tread (quarter test) took about 300 feet to stop in the rain. Less tread, down to 1/16 inch, was unable to stop in 300 feet in the rain.

More tread allows for more water to be expelled from between the tire and the road. This increases your traction on the pavement to avoid hydroplaning and increasing stopping distance.

Properly inflate your tires with air to get your car ready for a road trip

Check your tire pressure before you set off with a tire pressure gauge. The tire pressure can vary while the car is loaded or unloaded. Set the pressure before you load, but if you are hauling a very heavy load for a long trip you may need to reconsider. You can firm up the tires a bit more tight for the trip and then let off a bit of pressure when it is unloaded.

That is a lot to track and keep up with so it is easier to set it and forget it. I also like to recheck pressure before leaving our destination to head home. It is handy to keep a pressure gauge like this one in your glove box.

Check on your tires and they will have a psi listed on the outside of the tires. That is the manufacturer’s recommended pressure to run in those tires. Also wiggle your valve stem a little and listen for the sound of air. If you hear or suspect a leak then take the car to a tire shop to be checked more thoroughly.

Check the wheels on your car before a road trip

Nothing is worse than getting to 65 miles per hour with the whole family aboard only to find your car has a shake. If so, your wheels are probably out of balance. It’s an easy and cheap fix but not something you want the hassle of dealing with while on vacation. Trust me!

This happened to us on the way to the beach. With a 7 hour drive ahead we started calling places along the way to see how quickly we could get our wheels balanced. We finally found a place over 4 hours into our trip. We decided to stop to get the work done and stay the night. That way we could set off early the following morning for the remainder of our road trip and wobble no more.

Brake pads

Brakes are harder to check without taking the wheel off. I would say most brake pads these days will give you a shake or sound as an indicator that it is time to change them. If you feel that don’t leave on your road trip without having them checked or changed.

Check the brakes and rotors on your car before heading off on a road trip

You may have rotors instead of pads on the rear, and sometimes the front. If the rotors become warped it will shake fiercely when you are trying to stop. This does not mean your pads are bad. Sometimes the rotors will warp from being hot and hitting cold water with your tires.

The shake from a warped rotor will feel like your stopping power is greatly diminished but it is not.

It is purely an inconvenience to have warped rotors and it is very expensive to have them changed. It’s best to change your brake pads if possible while having your rotors changed.

Check your spare tire while you get your car ready for a road trip

It is a great idea to always check on your spare tire. If you’ve not used it, just be aware of where it is located. Make sure you have all the tools to change the tire. These are usually located with the tire if it is in the back of the car.

Some are located underneath the vehicle. So just check your owner’s manual if you don’t know where your spare tire is. It is a great idea to know if you have a full sized spare or just a mini or donut tire.

There are so many things to do to get your car ready for a road trip

I hope you found this information to be helpful. I know there is a lot here but we’ve tried to lay it out in a way that is easy to scan, while also including many helpful tips and tricks. We want this information to be helpful to you as you get your car ready for road trip with your family.

If there is a subject or helpful advice you have to make this guide better, then please reach out or leave it in the comments. We want this to be as helpful as possible to our community and to be a resource that will keep more families safe on the road.

Before you head out on your next family road trip make sure to check out our posts: Simplify a Road Trip with Kids or How to Avoid Motion Sickness in Kids. And don’t miss out on the BE Family Kids Travel Tray for Car Seat to help end the “are we nearly there yet” boredom.

As always, let’s BE Family so you can enjoy the journey.

Until next time,

Doug
BE Family Travel

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BE Family Products Inc. or (BE Family Travel) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Using any of the links in this blog post does NOT cost you anything but does help us big time to support the continued content creation on this blog. Thank you so much for partnering with us, let’s BE Family.

Motion Sick kid during Family Road Trip


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Do you want to travel without vomit?

Nothing makes travel miserable like a vomiting child. Motion sickness in kids can make it difficult to take a family vacation.

A Road Trip with Kids can be challenging enough without factoring in a car sick toddler. Motion Sickness or Travel Sickness is not always reserved just for toddlers. It can very often, as in our case, carry on into preschool years or longer.

Having a child with car sickness has, on more than one occasion, interfered with our plans. It has put us in very tricky situations. And more than once has forced Dad onto the side of a busy interstate to clean the car seat, and baby. Luckily, without any sympathetic sickness from the other family members in the car.

Not to worry, in this post we outline everything we have learned about motion sickness. We include best tips and tricks for avoiding motion sickness, and how every parent can be prepared in case of any unexpected sickness.

Use the Table of Contents below to quickly skip to any section of this post.

Unexpected car sickness with our toddler

Our youngest daughter developed awful motion sickness in the car when she turned a year old. I remember the first time it happened. We were headed to see Santa on the Polar Express. She was dressed in her special Christmas outfit as we made the one-hour drive to the train depot. It was nap time, but she would not settle; I didn’t know why she was fussing so much.

That was the unfortunate day we began the journey of learning how to survive travel sickness in toddlers. We were pulled over on the side of the highway with a few napkins and baby wipes trying to figure out what to do so we didn’t miss our train ride to the “north pole”. I was frazzled and frustrated that I was so unprepared to deal with this situation.

What is Motion Sickness?

Motion sickness in kids usually starts with a queasy feeling (upset stomach), fatigue, loss of appetite and even a cold sweat which can progress to vomiting.

A young child may struggle to identify or describe this feeling of queasiness. A child will demonstrate their discomfort by becoming pale and restless, yawning, fussing or crying.

Travel Sickness can be extremely unsettling for both parent and child. It’s very unpredictable and seems to come on at the worst possible moments.

Motion Sickness in Kids using devices

Causes of Car Sickness in Toddlers

Motion sickness is mysterious. Researchers and physicians don’t know why car sickness affects some children more than others.

Motion is sensed by the brain through different pathways of the nervous system including the inner ear, the eyes, and the tissues of the body surface. Motion sickness in kids is caused by repeated movement when traveling.

The symptoms of motion sickness appear when the central nervous system receives conflicting messages from the sensory systems: the inner ear, eyes, skin pressure receptors, and the muscle and joint sensory receptors.

Tips and tricks for Motion Sickness with kids

The inner ear sends different signals to the brain from what the eyes are seeing. These confusing messages between the senses cause the child to feel unwell.

The distressing symptoms of motion sickness usually stop when the motion causing it ceases. In the meantime, parents need to know the best ways to travel as a family and prevent their child from turning green!

When it comes to motion sickness, don’t tough – it – out – treat it. There are many approaches for treating motion sickness in children.

How to Ease Motion Sickness in Children

  • Look straight ahead outside the car, through the front windshield instead of through the side windows.
  • Focus on a distant fixed point, such as the horizon.
  • Open the car window to get fresh air.
  • Distract children by talking or singing songs.
  • Have your child close their eyes and listen to relaxing music.
  • Encourage your child to take a nap. Closing their eyes resolves the input conflict between their eyes and inner ear.
  • Break up your journey by making stops to get some fresh air, drink water or take a walk.
  • Do not read while riding in the car.
  • Put down electronic devices – do not play video games or watch movies. When the eyes are focused a few feet away this sends a signal of stillness to the brain, but the inner ear picks up on motion in the car, these mixed signals to the brain can cause nausea.
  • Avoid heavy meals and greasy, rich, spicy foods. Stick to bland foods before and during your car ride such as crackers and water.

If your child is still experiencing travel sickness, then there are some natural remedies I like to use.

Natural Treatment for Motion Sickness in Kids

Research on the effectiveness of acupressure for preventing motion sickness does not show clear benefit – some people find significant relief with acupressure, others little or none. So, if it’s working for you or your child, we say go for it.

It’s worth trying these different strategies in pursuit of comfort. If your child is still struggling, then talk to your pediatrician about medication options to prevent motion sickness. Occasionally a child’s vomiting may be due to a viral illness, food poisoning, or the “stomach flu.” If you are concerned about your child, then seek medical advice.

Common Medicines for Motion Sickness

We typically avoid medicines unless it is absolutely necessary. Even over the counter medicines are a last resort for us. However, we know not all families prescribe to this philosophy, and that’s OK. We encourage every family to do what works best for them. Life is not always a one size fits all. We have included information that we curated about over the counter medicines as well.

We are not doctors, nor do we pretend to be. Please always check with your family doctor before giving your children medication. Also, test any medication before your travels as each child can react differently to medicines, even over the counter. The worst time to find out your child is allergic to a medicine is when you are headed out on a family vacation.

Over the counter medicines for motion sickness:

  • Dramamine for Kids or Gravol Kidsboth Dramamine and Gravol contain Dimenhydrinate. It is approved for kids 2 and older and is commonly used to treat and prevent motion sickness in children.
  • Bonine Chewable Tabletscontains Meclizine Hydrochloride, an antiemetic. An anti-nausea medicine commonly used to treat and prevent motion sickness, sea sickness and airsickness. It is approved for use by adults and children 12 and up.
  • Benadrylalso contains the Antihistamine Diphenhydramine. It is approved for kids 6 and older and may also prevent symptoms of Motion Sickness in Kids. Non-drowsy antihistamines don’t appear to be effective at treating motion sickness.

Over the counter medicine list curated with the help of these websites:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/
https://www.tripsavvy.com/
https://childrensmd.org/

Teach your child to recognize the signs of Motion Sickness

Toddler Motion sickness in kids

Toddlers as young as 2 or 3 will tell you when they feel sick. It helps to talk about it ahead of time and encourage your children to tell you as soon as they start to feel sick.

You can sometimes pick up on signs. Our daughter gets unusually whiny when she starts to feel sick. After a few times we started to realize that was a sign of motion sickness in our child. How was your child acting just before they got sick? Note any unusual behavior in your child just before they were sick to create mental cues for you.

Be Prepared to Clean Up Messes

In the meantime, being prepared to clean up these messes in the car will make your journey more bearable. I’ve lost count of the number of times we had to clean the car seat! Now I always keep a Travel Car Clean-up Kit in the car.

Our family cannot leave the smell of vomit in a car seat, it is imperative to get it cleaned up as soon as possible. Especially in the summer when it is hot enough to set off a chain reaction of sickness in the car from other family members.

**Travel Car Clean-Up Kit**

In our vehicle we always have our Travel Car Clean-up Kit which includes:

  • Several towels (hand and bath towel size)
  • Paper Towels
  • Kids N Pets Odor Remover Spray
  • Baby Wipes
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Plastic Trash Bags
  • Changes of clothes for child(ren)

You may consider using a waterproof seat liner to protect your car seat. Britax has the Seat Saver Waterproof Liner that is approved for use with Britax seats only. We love our Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat for our toddler, but there is nothing worse than cleaning a soiled car seat on the side of the road. Spray your seat with fabric protector and waterproofing spray.

Prepare properly for a motion sickness in kids

Learn to identify your child’s signs of fussing before they get sick in the car. If they can tell you they feel sick, then make sure you have a towel within arm’s reach. I use a large bath towel tucked under my daughter’s chin to cover her body, which helps protect her clothes and the car seat if she gets sick. I keep these towels folded under her seat so I can easily reach back and pass her a towel when needed.

Having these supplies on hand will make clean-up a lot easier. Being able to clean the car-seat will help make the sick child more comfortable. If you end up on the side of the road, or in an empty parking lot, you will be glad you planned ahead. Read our post about how to get your car ready for your next road trip.

Being prepared to handle motion sickness will make travel less stressful

The good news is that most children tend to outgrow their car sickness by the time they are 12 years old. In the meantime these strategies will help as you travel with a child. For more ideas check out our post about Tips and Tricks to Simplify Road Trips with Kids or traveling with a potty training toddler. Or learn about our Strategies to Stay Healthy while Traveling with Children.

Our daughter is a long way from 12 years old, so we don’t know if she will grow out of her motion sickness. However, we have successfully used all the tips and tricks above to ease the severity of the sickness. Due to our experience with travel sickness over the years we are more prepared for the dreaded occurrence than ever before. Even her sibling springs into action when we hear her say… “I… feel… sick…”

We hope this post will bring you more peace on your family travels. And remember let’s BE Family so you can enjoy the journey.

Until next time,
Doug & Ruth   💕
BE Family Travel

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BE Family Products Inc. or (BE Family Travel) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Using any of the links in this blog post does NOT cost you anything but does help us big time to support the continued content creation on this blog. Thank you so much for partnering with us, let’s BE Family.

Simplify a family road trip


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Tips and Tricks to Simplify a Road Trip with Kids

As a family, road trips are a part of our lifestyle. There’s no better way to make family travel more affordable, practical, and low stress, while creating great memories for us and the kids. Family road trips are flexible, letting us travel direct to our destination when we need to and also allowing us to stop and experience fun things along the way. I know the thought of a road trip with kids may be stressful, but it does not have to be.

Done right, family road trips are a great way to build strong family bonds. How do you plan a great road trip with kids? Planning. We’ll share how we plan family travel, including family road trip lists, road trip snacks, best travel gear for family road trips, the best activities to keep kids busy in the car, screen-free games for road trips, and some down and dirty parent tips from us to you.

Quick Reference Guide

We have compiled a lot of information below. I would suggest reading thought at least once. However, the Table of Contents below will help you navigate to a certain section quickly. Use the Table of Contents below for future reference when you return to this post to answer questions or get back to links fast. We hope you find tremendous value.

Supply Lists for Family Road Trip with Kids

Car Supplies

We start every road trip by making sure we have basic supplies in the car. Having easy ways to take care of unexpected messes, injuries, and the occasional upset stomach are all must-haves. Not being prepared for those unexpected surprises will create a lot of stress and can get your vacation off to a rough start. Luckily we’ve got you covered with some great tips and tricks for getting that road trip going smoothly.

Read our post about at home vehicle maintenance to learn how to get your car ready for your next road trip.

A road trip with kids means being prepared for messes! Napkins or paper towels and baby wipes are handy for sticky hands or a bigger mess. Hand sanitizer is a must with all of the eating that happens on a road trip. We prefer to use one that doesn’t seem to leave a taste behind. We always keep a basic first-aid kit in the car but make sure to check that it’s stocked before a road trip. A few plastic bags are handy for trash, to wrangle a big mess, and just in case of stomach upset. For helpful tips for preventing or dealing with Car Sickness in Kids click this link.

Speaking of big messes… you may have wondered why we still keep a spare diaper in the car, even with no one wearing diapers anymore. I’ll tell you below.

Must Pack Car Supplies for a Road Trip with Kids

first aid kit for car family road trip with kids
  • Napkins / Roll of Paper Towels
  • Several towels (hand and bath towel size)
  • Kids ‘N’ Pets Odor Remover Spray
  • Baby wipes
  • Basic first-aid kit
  • Plastic grocery bags
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Disposable diaper
    (yup – even if you don’t have a baby, keep one in the car!)
  • Pillow and light blanket for each kid

Outfits for the Road

Let’s talk family road trip clothes. Nothing is more uncomfortable than wearing snug clothing or shoes that squeeze just a bit. A sure-fire way to make extra stops or hear extra complaining from the backseat is to not control what gets worn on long road trips. Our kids have actually learned what they prefer in the car and lovingly call them their road trip outfits!

Best tips for road trips with kids

The Best Comfy Road Trip Clothes for Kids (and Adults!)

  • Lightweight long-sleeved shirt – Wearing a long-sleeved shirt for a long day in the car means skipping sunscreen. If you really prefer short sleeves, be sure to throw sunscreen on the exposed skin. It’ll be getting sun all day.
  • Comfortable elastic waist pants
  • Easy on/off shoes – Spending all day in the car with shoes on is annoying for adults. There’s no way our kids aren’t kicking their shoes off! Easy on/off shoes means when we stop it doesn’t add time putting shoes back on. Easy shoes can include Birkenstocks, clogs, loafer style shoes, flip flops or slide sandals in the summer.
  • Zip-up sweatshirt or sweater for easy on/off in the car – We skip sweatshirts with hoods! These can be uncomfortable against the back of the seat.
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen – Quickly applying a bit of sunscreen to everyone’s faces (and arms if needed) will prevent sun damage and the possibility of sunburn ruining your road trip.
  • Spare set of clothes for spills and accidents – Yup. We know there are clothes for a week in the luggage but it’s a nightmare to dig through everything in back for a new shirt after a spill. We pack a day bag with a full change of clothes for each kid and fresh shirts for the adults because who hasn’t worn coffee all down the front of them?!
  • Spare diaper but not for the baby – What better use for a long-outgrown diaper sitting around? Here’s a family travel hack – – a diaper is great way to soak up big spills. Water bottle spills can be a real issue on a trip but put a diaper inside out over the puddle and watch it disappear!

Road Trip Snacks

Another secret to a successful family road trip is having access to quick and easy kid friendly snacks when you are on the road. Sometimes it may feel like the front seat of the car is a full-service restaurant! But there isn’t much worse than being stuck in the car with hangry kids. So having a selection of healthy road trip snacks for kids (and adults) will keep everyone happier and make the journey a lot smoother. 

Read our detailed post about the Best Road Trip Snacks for Kids which includes photos and descriptions of all our favorite family road trip snacks. And, to make your online shopping fast and convenient, we have included handy links to all the recommended items.

Our post about Road Trip Snacks also includes a FREE download printable of our Road Trip Snacks List.

Easy Road Trip snacks with kids

Road Trip Snack Hack

When we are preparing to head out of town on a family vacation we love the convenience of ordering a Prime Pantry box. A few minutes placing an online order can save you hours in the grocery store.

If you have an Amazon prime account, or sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime here, then you can have a Prime Pantry box delivered for free with only a $35.00 purchase.

The Best Road Trip Snacks for Kids

These are our favorite family road trip snacks, which your kids will LOVE! Make sure to pack these snacks for your next road trip with kids.

Trail Mix 

Spice up a healthy nut snack with dried fruit, some chocolate, or yogurt covered raisins. We always pack individual servings in a small reusable container. Our kids love dried raisins, cranberries, cherries or apricots.

Fruit

Think fruits that can be eaten with your hands. Pre-sliced apples, grapes, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, or bananas. Pre-wash and pre-slice before you leave, and with kids under the age of 5, skip the grapes.

road trip snacks for kids

Nuts

Nuts are a healthy snack packed with protein. Our kids love peanuts, whole almonds, sliced almonds, pistachios, cashews or pecans. Choose roasted or unsalted nuts, to avoid the unnecessary salt.

Nut Butter (such as peanut butter, almond butter or sunflower seed spread) in individual serving sizes are great to dip with sliced apples. If you have young children or a child with a nut allergy then avoid these options.

Granola or Protein Bars

We keep granola bars and protein bars on-hand for family road trips at all times! Kids and adults alike can make it that extra hour to the food destination of choice when there’s extra granola bars for everyone.

Greek Yogurt Drinks / Cheese

Greek Yogurt Drinks, Babybel or String Cheese snacks are another easy way to pack protein for the road. We always carry a small cooler and these items take up very little room.

Snack Size Sandwiches / Wraps

Having the ability to grab one more substantial meal while still driving down the road gives us flexibility as well as a healthier option for one meal. This is especially helpful with picky eaters! We pack sandwiches cut into quarters and wraps cut in half for small meals as we drive. Our favorite quick and easy sandwiches are cheese or nut butter and jelly.

Veggies & Hummus

Cut up some veggies and pack single serve hummus or ranch dip. Some of our go-to vegetables for road trip travel are baby carrots, sliced cucumbers, snow peas, sliced peppers or cherry tomatoes.

Road Trip Hack

You can use a traditional school snack container like shown in the picture for separating out your veggies, cheese and crackers for each child.

We love to use a Bento Box, which allows a lot of flexibility for separation of dips, vegetables, sandwiches, and even sliced up fruits.

They come in a variety of colors. Click here to see all the Bento Boxes for Kids


Applesauce or Fruit & Veggie Pouches

These quick and easy pouches can be a lifesaver for when veggies get missed on the road.

road trip snack catcher

Crunchy Snacks

Goldfish, veggie straws, pretzels, animal crackers, mini rice cakes, tortilla snacks, mini graham crackers, peanut butter crackers, Chex mix or Cheerios in a handy snack catcher.

Popcorn

You can pop your own or purchase it ready to go, popcorn is an easy and healthy road trip snack.

Sweet Treats

We aren’t keen on giving our kids a bunch of sugar in the car (or at any time, really). Asking a kid to sit still in the car after a bunch of sugar just seems downright impossible. But what’s better than a small sweet treat to celebrate the halfway point of the trip? Or to use as a bribe for later 😉 We stick to treats with less sugar like organic fruit snacks or gummies. Or on occasion we’ll enjoy one of my childhood favorites – a Rice Krispies Treat!

For more information read our full post about the Best Road Trip Snacks for Kids which includes a FREE printable download of our Road Trip Snacks List.

scoop on poop

Taking Breaks Throughout the Day on Road Trips

Short breaks on a family road trip are important to give everyone in the car an opportunity to stretch and reduce that cramped cabin-fever feeling. Most medical professionals recommend a general rule of a break of at least 15 minutes every 2 hours. In our best case scenario, we usually try to get a nice 3-1/2 hour stretch in first thing while everyone is at their best. After that, we stop every 2 or 2-1/2 hours.

Traveling with a Potty Training Toddler

Are you nervous about taking a road trip with a potty training toddler? If your child is comfortable using public restrooms around town, then now it’s time to start thinking about your first road trip while potty training. Consider bringing a travel potty or seat in the car. And before your road trip read our post to learn everything you need to know about how to travel with a potty training toddler.

Recommended Travel Products for Road Trips

To keep the kids entertained on a long journey it’s important to have a selection of activities available within reach. We alternate between games, drawing, books, play, road trip snacks and some technology time.

Road Trip with Kids

Printable Road Trip Games

Our kids love to start off with their BE Family Travel Trays in their laps. That way they get a chance to play, draw, create, and work on their printable road trip games.

Best Family Travel Games

Check out our post about the best family travel games to find games to entertain the kids on your next road trip.

BE Family Travel Tray

After the first hour or so we will allow for some technology time. Their car seat travel trays make it easy as we will already have their device in the tablet pocket. The BE Family Travel Tray will help end the “are we nearly there yet” boredom.

Travel Tray for kids in car seats

Road Trip Technology Time

Once it is time for some technology time they can turn on their Kids HD Kindle Fire Tablets by themselves. Then they slip on their bluetooth headsets to watch a short movie or play a game.


The Road Trip Wrap-up

The thought of a road trip with kids can be daunting. However, using these packing and travel tips can really help to reduce your stress and bring peace to the backseat. We would love to hear about your tips and tricks that work well for your family. Similarly, feel free to share your successes or failures that we can all learn and grow as families that like to travel with our kids. Also, let us know if there are topics around travel that you need help with and we can do our best to address those in future posts.

As always, let’s BE Family so you can enjoy the journey.

Until next time,

Doug & Ruth

BE Family Travel

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BE Family Products Inc. or (BE Family Travel) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Using any of the links in this blog post does NOT cost you anything but does help us big time to support the continued content creation on this blog. Thank you so much for partnering with us, let’s BE Family.

Take breaks for the kids to play


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Stress-free travel with your baby

The holidays are fast approaching and as a parent with a new baby you’re likely making plans to travel. Maybe to see family or take a holiday getaway for some fun and relaxation. If you are planning your travel with a baby, it may feel overwhelming. Never fear we have get tips and tricks for you to make the travel more smoothly.

Traveling over the holidays can be stressful. Especially when you travel with a baby which can make your trip more challenging and unpredictable. And if this is your first time traveling with baby you may be extra nervous about what’s ahead. Fear not! I can completely relate and want to share with you what I’ve learned along the journey of parenting and travel.  

Use the Table of Contents below to quickly skip to any section of this post.

What I’ve learned about traveling with a baby

I am a Brit living in North Carolina, USA. When my first daughter was born in 2011, I was super excited to take her to England so she could meet my family and friends. She was 3 months old that Christmas and we decided to make the trans-Atlantic trip. As December arrived and the day of our flight approached, I began to feel extremely nervous. I had made the trip MANY times before, but never with a baby.

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Holiday Family Travel

I’ve realized that it’s easier to travel with an infant, before they start crawling or walking. When my second daughter arrived several years later, I jumped on the opportunity to travel with her while she was small. She was 5 months old that Christmas. We booked the flights before she was even born! We flew to England on Christmas Day, but I’ll share more about our decision to do that later!

Planning, being prepared and giving yourself some grace if it’s not all “perfect” will help you take on this new challenge of traveling with a baby. Whether on a road trip or on a plane, bus or train, being flexible and having a sense of humor will help. Time together as a family and making memories with your child far outweighs the extra effort it will take.

Top “10” tips for stress-free travel with a baby this holiday

1. Avoid travel on peak days

Many people want to avoid traveling on an actual holiday and prefer to be at their destination to enjoy the holiday. Therefore, the airports and roads are much busier before and after the holiday. Peak travel days in the US include the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, December 23rd and January 2nd. You can usually get better deals on flights if you’re willing to travel on an actual holiday. Then postpone your celebration with family to a different day.

Airplane flying with a baby

We did this several years ago when my second daughter was an infant. We flew to England on Christmas Day.

The airport was quieter and we were able to get much lower fares with better flight times and less connections. This made the overall journey more direct, and much easier.

We were able to celebrate Christmas in the United States with my husband’s family a couple of days early. Then celebrate with my family in England a couple of days late.

Our children were young, they never knew any different. Bonus for our kids was they got two Christmases out of the deal. We were happy that it worked out perfectly for both sides of our family.

2. Pack light and only bring the essentials

I like to be prepared and used to have the tendency to pack everything but the kitchen sink when we would travel. My poor husband was left playing tetras trying to fit all the luggage into our vehicle, and then navigating everything around the airport. It was WAY TOO MUCH LUGGAGE!

Pack to fly with a baby

I’ve since developed in-depth family packing lists which help me to remember from one trip to the next what items we ACTUALLY need to pack. When you travel with a baby you have enough on your plate without having to keep up with too much luggage. Try to pack as light as possible.

The only essentials you really need when you travel with a baby

  • a diaper bag with diapers (one diaper per hour of travel, and buy more at your destination)
  • changes of clothes for you and baby
  • formula/bottles/cups (you can fill with water after you are through security)
  • a nursing cover (which made it a lot easier to nurse when in such close quarters with strangers)
  • diaper cream (3oz or less, if flying, use just in case you can’t change baby right away)
  • plastic bags (to carry wet/messy items)
  • comfort item or lovey
  • books/small toys
  • ID for you and baby if you’re flying (check out our post about how to apply for your child’s passport)

I also recommend bringing a baby travel kit to keep in your hand luggage which includes: a thermometer, Tylenol (for fever), Ibuprofen (for pain), band aids and any prescription medication.

3. Rent or borrow baby gear at your destination 

When you’re visiting family see what baby gear you can borrow from Grandma or your sister, cousin etc. They can ask their friends or neighbors, and you’ll be amazed at what they can find for you. If you’re visiting a place that you’re not familiar with then research a local company where you can rent baby gear by the day or by the week.

Also you can check out Baby’s Away, baby supply rentals. With locations across the USA, if you’re travelling within the US that will make it easy for you. Also you can check out BabyQuip which is another nationwide option in the US for baby gear rentals.

When driving it’s not always possible, or worth the hassle, to drag all that baby gear with you. Consider renting or borrowing items such as a crib or pack and play, highchair, Bumbo seat, play mat, baby swing or bouncy seat. And remember that you can buy diapers when you arrive at your destination and don’t need to carry a week’s worth of diapers in your suitcase!  

4. Reserve a ticket for your infant and bring ID 

A child, less than 2 years old, may typically travel free of charge within the U.S. when accompanied by an adult. Although a lap child is not typically required to pay for a seat, they are required by the airline to be issued with a ticket and to show proof of age.

On an international flight some airlines may charge taxes and fees even if the infant is sitting on a parent’s lap. If you are traveling abroad your child will need a passport. Make sure you begin the process of applying for your child’s passport well before your trip. Read our complete guide to get your child a U.S. passport.

Travel with baby as a lap child on a plane

Don’t make the 2 year old mistake

Recently I was talking with a friend who planned to take her nephew on a flight to Florida right after his 2nd birthday. I commented that it’s unfortunate she didn’t plan the trip before he turned two, because now she will have to pay for his seat.

She seemed confused by my comment as the parents had (mistakenly) told her that it’s free to fly with a 2-year-old. She had not reserved a ticket for the child and thought he would just “sit on her lap”. I explained this was not the case and she needed to contact the airline.

She ended up having to buy a ticket for her nephew, and as no seats were available in economy class, she had to purchase a ticket in business class. It ended up being a rather costly mistake and lots of extra hassle the week before the trip.

It is always important to contact your airline, so they are aware than you plan to travel with an infant and to find out the requirements for your flight.

5. Check with airline about baggage allowance

While infants with a paid seat typically get the same baggage allowance as a paid adult ticket, if your child under 2 years old is traveling as a lap child (without their own seat), then unfortunately they are not typically given a baggage allowance. I would always recommend calling your airline ahead of time to find out the luggage allowance for an infant on your flight.

In my experience we’ve always been allowed to take a stroller through security to the gate. We are then given a “gate check” tag to take the stroller to the door of the airplane and they will store it under the plane during the flight. When we arrived at our destination the stroller was available for pick up at the door of the plane (or sometimes at baggage claim, depending on the airport).

Travel with a baby as a lap child

Baby gear for the airplane

I would suggest using a stroller gate check bag to cover and protect your stroller from dirt and damage. Especially if you’re traveling in the winter with snow when you’ll find there’s salt everywhere! And I always like to wear the baby in an infant carrier such as the Ergo or Baby Bjorn which allows me to have my hands free. Plus, baby loves to be close to you!  And then I use the stroller to transport other things like the diaper bag, carry-on suitcase, winter coats, or even an older sibling who may be tired from all the travel. 

6. Take a direct flight

When possible take a direct flight to reduce your travel time and time in the air. On an international or long-haul flight call ahead to ask for the baby bassinet which attaches to the wall of the bulkhead section. These are typically complimentary on international flights, though they’re subject to availability. If the bassinet is not available, then ask for bulkhead seating to give you some extra space.

Read our post about surviving jet lag with your baby or toddler.

How to Travel with a Baby on a plane

On shorter flights I like to get an aisle seat at the front of the plane. When the seat belt sign is off, I will get up and walk around the cabin for some exercise and to give baby a change of scenery. During takeoff and landing make sure to give your child a drink, snack or pacifier to help reduce ear pain from the pressure change. I would always plan to nurse my baby during that time.

7. Travel while baby sleeps 

When we make the 2-hour drive to Grandma’s, we usually plan to drive in the afternoon during our toddler’s nap time. When my brother is driving with his two young children, he will typically leave in the evening so the kids will fall asleep in the car. Then he’ll drive into the night to reach his destination. Friends of ours always drive overnight so their children will sleep all night until they reach their destination. If you’re traveling across the country or abroad consider taking the red-eye flight.

The good thing about a baby is that they will typically sleep a lot, so try to do as much travel as possible while your baby is asleep. Traveling with small children requires flexibility, and you need to be aware that surprises may occur along the way. From traffic to flight delays or missed connections. Try to handle any unexpected changes with grace and a sense of humor. Your baby can sense how you’re feeling. The calmer you can remain the better for everyone!

8. Give yourself extra time when you travel with a baby

Everything with a baby seems to take longer, so account for that when making travel plans. Give yourself extra time. I would suggest at least 1-2 hours extra than you’d normally need for your road trip or arrival at the airport. You never know when baby is going to spit up or have a blow out that needs to be dealt with right then. Or when you’ll need to stop to nurse or feed baby sooner than you expected. If you can’t fly direct and you’re booking a flight with a connection, then allow extra time so you’re not rushing through the airport with all your gear.

Best tips for flying with a baby

9. Bring snacks but be prepared to clean up messes 

Have some age appropriate snacks easily accessible in the car or in your carry-on bag. We have a great list of easy to pack snacks on Simplify a Road Trip with Kids post. Check it out here. It’s rare that children like plane food and a snack will often occupy the child and help avoid a tantrum.

Remember to keep food and drinks bland to prevent motion sickness. My youngest daughter developed awful motion sickness in the car when she was around a year old. There were times we couldn’t even make a 15-minute drive across town without her throwing up everywhere!

I’ve developed more awareness about how to handle travel sickness in children. And I’ve lost count of the number of times we had to clean the car seat! Now I avoid giving her milk, yogurt or fruit for breakfast before a road trip. Instead I stick to bland food such as toast or dry cereal.

Car clean up

Car clean-up

For a more in depth discussion on How to Avoid Motion Sickness in Kids then click here.

In the car I always keep a cleaning kit which includes several towels (hand towel and bath towel size), paper towels, Kids N Pets Odor Remover Spray, baby wipes, and plastic trash bags.

I’ve learned to identify the signs of my daughter’s fussing before she gets sick in the car. Now I have a towel at the ready. I use a large towel tucked under her chin and covering her body which helps protect her clothes and the car seat if she gets sick. I keep these towels folded under her seat so I can easily reach back and pass her a towel when needed. Having the necessary supplies and being prepared to clean up messes certainly helps when we’re pulled over on the side of the road trying to comfort a sick kiddo. 

10. Dress comfortably

When I travel, I want to be as comfortable as possible, so I always opt for jeggings or yoga pants. Same goes for your baby, and I try to bring coordinating changes of clothes so if she only messes up a shirt then I don’t need to change the entire outfit.

I always bring pajamas for baby so if we’re going to arrive at night then she’ll already be changed and ready for bed. And remember that airplane temperatures can change dramatically, from warm on the ground to cool in the air. Dress in layers and make sure to bring a jacket.

For more comfy clothing tips for the whole family. Check out our post Simplify a Road Trip with Kids.

Family memories are worth the extra effort

Traveling can be stressful. When you travel with a baby it can be super stressful, but if you think through your travel plans keeping your baby’s needs in mind then it’s a lot more doable. In fact, following these travel tips can help make it less daunting and help you keep your cool.

Always keep in mind that the memories you make are worth the extra effort!

We hope this post will bring you more peace on your family travels. And remember, Let’s BE Family so you can enjoy the journey.

You’ve got this. You can do it! 💖 Ruth

BE Family Travel

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Travel with a Baby Stress Free

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This week (December 2018) we visited The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. There was a foot of fresh snow covering everything and it was beautiful. Biltmore was very thorough to clear and salt the estate roads. It was very safe but quite the site to see the grounds blanketed with beautiful white snow. It was particularly unusual to see the massive bamboo forests bent over with the tops touching the ground under the weight of the snow. We wondered if it was the right decision to take the Kids to The Biltmore Estate. 

Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC is fun for the kids.

Gift Shopping

First, we visited the shops in the stable right by the Biltmore House entrance. The Carriage House Shop had lots of tasty dips, salad dressings, Biltmore Wines, and juice available for sampling throughout. With a mix of Biltmore souvenirs, Christmas decorations, jewelry, and clothing it was a nice place to gather up a few gifts. Travel Tip: The powdered dips are super light and small for packing. They are a great souvenir or holiday gifts to take home. We also checked out the Toymaker’s shop. The Confectionery tested my willpower. A Christmas Past, and the Bookbinder’s shop were both neat as well. Then we grabbed an early lunch at the Stable Café in order to beat the rush and to fuel the kids for a few hours in the house.

Tour of the Biltmore House

We queued up in a short line to enter the Biltmore House and it moved rather quickly. Once in it is a self-guided tour so you can move as quickly or as slowly as you need to take it all in. The house was stunning with all the Christmas Décor. You could tell there was so much work that went into the decorations and such attention to detail. The kids loved some of the trees and how fancy they were. The attendants stationed in many of the areas are quite knowledgeable and are very willing to answer any questions they can.

Biltmore Secrets

Biltmore Estate Library hold magic secrets that intrigue the kids.

In the library the attendant engaged our kids by asking if they could pick out the Beauty and the Beast book. Of course, they could not but she showed them right where it was. She also let us know to look out for a staircase in the South Wing just outside of the gorgeous Louis XV Room. The staircase lead down to the balcony of the library just behind the tapestry. It was used to pop down into the library for an evening read or to take a book back to your room before bed.

Imaginations Run Wild

Our 7-year-old thoroughly enjoyed the tour. Toddlers/preschoolers would probably get restless rather quickly. She was enthralled in her imagination with what it would be like if she lived there. It was very sweet! The whole tour through the house is about 1.5 – 2 hours. This was a good length as there are no restrooms inside the house. Make sure everyone has been to the bathroom before starting the tour. 

Visit to the Winery

Biltmore Estate Winery is still fun for the kids.

It was so cold out and the grounds were all Winter Wonderland, so we decided to spend some time at Antler Village. We finished out our day at the Winery for wine tasting. We were a bit weary and did not know how that was going to work out with the kiddos. They offer some coloring sheets and coloring pencils with a cup of grape juice to finish off. I must say the littles were quite content while we tasted the wines. The only drawback was there was no hard surface where the kids could draw. Mine ended up laying on the concrete floor which was not ideal. Some clipboards or lap trays would be a perfect fix and more comfortable.

Fun for the Kids

BE Family fun at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC

All in all, it was a wonderful day out and you could easily spend several days visiting Biltmore if the weather were warmer. It was great fun and good exercise for the kids; and equally fun, informative and fascinating for the adults as well. If you’re considering a visit to Asheville, North Carolina, The Biltmore Estate should be high on the list of family activities. Don’t be afraid to take the kids to The Biltmore Estate. 

 

If you want to share your fun adventures. Learn from other families about great vacation ideas or family travel tips, then join us in our Private Facebook Group Family Travel Community. Feel free to join our email list for tips, tricks, savings and more. We strive to post valuable content that will help you simplify family travel. 

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