Living 40+ miles outside of a major city, we do our fair share of driving. Anything over an hour in the car, we consider a road trip and if you have kids you can understand that it’s not always easy to travel with young kids, especially when they’re confined to car seats. Never wanting distance to stop us from traveling, we’ve had to come up with different ways to keep the kids happy for longer stretches in the car. Today we’re sharing what works for us when traveling with young kids in car seats, in hopes that it can help you get out and adventuring with your own family!
One of our goals this year is to travel more, with and without the kids. We often take frequent trips to Disney World which is just shy of 2 hours one way. With proper planning, we can get the kids off to the happiest place on earth (and beyond) with minimal tears and complaining.
5 TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH YOUNG KIDS IN CAR SEATS
1. SAFETY FIRST!
Above anything, safety in the car is our number one priority. Gone are the days of sleeping in the back of your parent’s van or station wagon during family road trips. Our kids are 5 and 3 currently and use Chicco car seats. Our 5-year-old just upgraded to the MyFit Harness + Booster Seat, while our youngest is in the Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat. We chose Chicco because of their reputation in the baby industry, including having the #1-rated products, like the NextFit line of convertible car seats, which has recently been updated and restyled to offer models at a variety of price points to fit every budget.
When you spend more time in the car, you really want to invest in a car seat that not only will perform well and provide maximum safety for your kids, but also one that is comfortable. The NextFit Zip is easy to install, thanks to simple leveling and tightening features like the SuperCinch one-pull harness tightener and LockSure belt system, helping to achieve a tight fit with LATCH or the vehicle seat belt. It also accommodates infants to toddlers in rear-facing position then easily transitions to a forward-facing seat for older kids, and even comes with a removable newborn positioner so it can be used from 5 to 65 pounds.
What I love the most about this car seat is that you will not need to rethread the harness straps since it has a 9-position, one-hand headrest adjustment.
Snacks are always a must for longer trips. The NextFit Zip has a machine washable seat pad that easily zips off, along with a dishwasher-safe “Cup Folder,” which is wider and easier to use on the updated model, and can easily be stowed away when not in use. I think all moms can appreciate that feature! (The NextFit Zip is available at ChiccoUSA.com and in-stores for $299.99.)
2. PLAN (WITH FLEXIBILITY)
Having a plan in place is always a good idea when traveling with the family. Know where you’d like to make stops along your route, but also be flexible. My kids since birth have been laughing at all the plans I make. Ha! If something doesn’t go exactly as planned, remain positive. Our kids feed off our energy and having a stressed-out child and parent in the car will not be enjoyable for anyone.
My kids are almost complete opposites of each other. My son has always been super easy going in the car. Often he would stare out the window until he became drowsy and drifted off to sleep. My daughter on the other hand is a busy-body, always needing something to do. Our favorite car activities are coloring books (keep crayons/colored pencils in the cup holders to keep from falling), Playdoh, magnetic tiles on a lap-sized cookie sheet, and a tablet or iPad for games and movies. (Pro Tip: get your tablets ready prior to your trip. You can download certain shows and movies on Netflix to be viewed without Wi-Fi. There are also tons of Wi-Fi-free apps for young kids.)
Probably one of the most important tips when traveling with young kids is to bring all the snacks. I try to limit sugary and salty snacks for long trips to avoid the sugar surge and frequent pit-stops. If your little one isn’t old enough for snacks, make sure to plan extra stops along the way.
5. Travel Potty
For potty training kids, a good tip would be to take along a travel potty. Some routes don’t have as many rest areas and if your child is like one of mine, when the urge hits there’s not too much time to waste.
One of the perks of having younger kids in car seats is they physically can’t touch each other. But that won’t stop the arguing! Keep it light, play games between rest stops and always remember to have fun! You’re creating unforgettable memories for your family that your kids will always remember.
I’m so thankful for any chance we get to travel as a family. Whether we travel long or short distances, car seat safety has and always will be my number one priority. Always do your research, as different states have different laws and car seats have different weight limits. Chicco has some great resources available on its website, offering information about properly installing and buckling your child’s car seat, as well as when it might be time to turn them from rear- to forward-facing. Having the confidence in your family’s safety will give piece of mind no matter where your journey takes you!