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  • Writer's pictureLauren Kruse

Tips For Travelling ALONE With Kids

Have you ever had one of those triumphant moments in motherhood where you feel like you da real MVP? Those moments where you can see all your other mommy friends shining their smiles of approval at you and starting the slow clap at your success? Look, I don't have them often as I am usually proud that my kids are fed and breathing by the end of the day, but sometimes I have these moments and when I do I feel the need to share.

Most recently I faced the Mount Everest of parenting accomplishments. I took a road trip ALONE with two kids. That means me in the driver seat for five hours and my three-year-old and one year strapped behind me with no other adult to crawl back, feed snacks, or overall distract from the boredom or satiate their slew of little human needs and complaints. And y'all, I didn't just face this thing...I freaking NAILED it! As in, enjoyable, no meltdowns, like we DID the dam thing. I'm still undecided on if this was due to my planning and little hacks I implemented or if it was God sending one of his mommy angels to ride in the car with me, but I figure there is a 50/50 chance it was the first portion, so I am going to share what I did to have such a successful trip.

1. Timing is everything

My daughter, at the age of three, is a one napper kiddo at this stage. In fact, my son is as well, however if given the chance he will take a morning nap. Typically they both sleep from 12-2. My daughter also tends to be less meltdown prone and overall more "chill" in the first half of the day. As the day progresses and more things don't go her way, stimulation builds up, and her little three year old self becomes tired of staying within the bounds of rules we demand, most tasks become slightly more difficult.

So, on the day of our trip, I had both my kids up at by 6:00 am. This is slightly earlier than usual, but I was going for my one year old taking a morning nap and giving my three-year-old some time to burn a little energy. Starting the day slightly earlier allowed me to prep them and burn them out some, while still be on the road early enough in the day to avoid those over stimulated meltdowns I mentioned earlier. We hit the road at 8:30, and as hoped and planned for my son was OUT by 8:35. He slept a good hour and fifteen minutes which ate up a nice portion of the drive.

This may not look like a lot to y'all...but this is what two sleeping babies look like on a solo road trip. #success #travellingwithkids #travellingalone

2. Distractions on distractions on distractions.

Be prepared to distract. This is KEY. Toddlers and babies are like greedy little jailbirds. You can NOT lay all your cards on the table at once. Show them all the dollar store toys you bought for this ride in the first hour and they've got you by the cahones. You've got to play hardball and you've got to spread it out. Electronics? That's for when sh** hits the fan. Your kid is back there in their car seat having conversations with themselves or licking the window? Are they doing it pleasantly and quietly? DO NOT OFFER ANYTHING ELSE. Let them be UNTIL you either a) sense meltdown coming or b) are being hit with meltdown, then start showing your cards, i.e handing back the distractions.

I came prepared with "busy" things I knew my daughter and son would enjoy. The three-year-old is easy. A notebook and a crayon can last her a while, a Barbie bag filled with little outfits to change Barbie in and out of, blank paper and stickers, books galore... all of these are "quiet" activities that keep her busy and are non-electronic. For my one year old it's a little trickier just because at his age things don't hold his attention quite as long. Unfortunately, this means every annoying toy that has buttons, weird voices, lights up, and repeats the same thing 5,000 times.

3. Feed the little monsters

Pack ALL the snacks! This, similar to the toy scenario, is about dolling them out slowly. Snacks were the key for me to stay ahead of the meltdowns. When I sensed one of them going sideways on me, I chucked back a pack of raisins or cut up pb&j as fast as I could with one hand on the steering wheel. I prepped easy car snacks ahead of time:

- mini pb&j's

-gummy fruit snacks


-cut up and washed blueberries

-bananas, apples

-granola bars


It was a little more unnerving with my son because at one year old I am not okay with him eating unattended. Of course, I can see him from his little mirror thing, but I didn't LOVE doing this. It kept him busy and happy and was super helpful on our drive. Handing it to him while driving was no small feat either, but we made it work.

4. Be prepared to sing like your life depends on it.

Raffi Pandora, Disney Pandora, Moana Pandora, and of course with my daughter The Sound of Music soundtrack...Ladies, be prepared to sing your little tushies off. Oddly enough, this was a huge time killer and meltdown avoider for BOTH my kids. We BLARED our favorite songs and had a blast. It meant I had to set the tone and make it silly and fun. Palmer loved it, Holden sang along and kicked his little legs and it made it go by for me as well.

5. Time your stops

We only did one stop on a five-hour drive. I timed it to be exactly halfway through the trip, maybe a little more. I also did not wait for a meltdown- I was trying to stay one step ahead of that mother! So, once I sensed my one year old getting a little fussy and Palmer asking "are we home yet?" every five minutes, I began looking for a busy, safe exit. This is key as well. I am crazy paranoid and always think one of the suspense thriller books I read is going to play out in my real life, so I was not about to stop at some sketch ball truck stop.

We kept it real classy at the Burger King truck stop... #travellingwithkids #controlledchaos #travellingalonewithkids

We found a great exit with a Burger King that had an outdoor play area. I NEVER feed my kids fast food, but hell we were in survival mode. We stopped by and used potties, changed diapers, split a cheeseburger three ways and I let my kids have 15 minutes to run around and play and stretch their legs. I didn't rush it and by the time we got back in the car everyone seemed refreshed and it was nearing their typical nap time.

6. Use electronics wisely and sparingly

At this point in the trip, our last leg of it, I took out the old Ipad. I told Palmer she had 10 minutes of quiet movie time to settle in for her nap. I gave she and Holden their blankets and let P watch a show for about 10 minutes. She turned it off and handed it back to me and then we had "close our eyes" time. I put Pandora Meditation by the Sea station on loud and within ten minutes both kids were passed out. Both napped for about an hour or so and by the time they woke up we were within an hour of our house.

And that is it my friends! I didn't do anything crazy. I prepped by way of busying toys, few snacks, and an attempt at a drive schedule that would work well with naps. Other than that I approached it stress free and willing to stop as many times as we needed to make the trip enjoyable. We were fortunate we only needed one stop and my kids were troopers!

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