We’ve done a lot of quick weekend trips this summer given we are in the midst of a renovation. We feel so lucky to have grandparents who have taken us in at the beach and at their home this summer so far. The grit part of our home renovation has not been enjoyable to be present for, so getting out of town has been really helpful. I’ve done 80% of those trips solo with my kids though and it has definitely begun to wear on me, especially since I started the third trimester. So, we’ve pumped the breaks on car travel for a bit and are laying low unless Joel can accompany ua on the drives. I am very used to driving my kids solo though— have been doing it since Scarlett was a baby since Joel’s medical training didn’t allow him a lot of free time to join in on trips, so I feel somewhat like a pro sharing some of our tried and true favorites for car travel. I’ve been doing this for about 8 years now. First with one child, then two, then three, and now three while pregnant. There’s been a lot of learning along the way and I’ve always share small bits in IG stories with y’all, but making things official here with a post will be great for reference in the years to come.
My 5 BEST Quick Tips for Car Rides (especially if you are solo parenting):
I always leave early morning or right before a nap time. Now, that I have 3 children on 3 different schedules sometimes afternoon departures have to happen.
ALWAYS bring the travel potty. I have had mine stored in my car for over 6 years now and it has not left the trunk. Especially during covid, it is much easier to get potty breaks done when the potty in in the car already. I’ve never been a fan of bringing kids into gas stations/restaurants, especially if I am traveling solo. I consider this my all time best mom hack for traveling with littles! If there is anything you take away from this post it’s to buy this potty! I’ve tried several brands, and having the capability to throw away the mess bag is key!
Plan on one big stop to re group, stretch legs, serve food/snacks, change diapers, start a movie, etc. Too many times I tried to “make it a ways” and we all ended up frustrated. If I just plan out the stop and make it, I feel like most are in better moods for longer lengths of time. The stops in between truly feel short if I’ve taken the time on a stop before to tend to the bigger things.
Choose to park and have take out brought to your car versus drive thru (especially if you are solo). I have found that placing my take out order ahead of time, parking and tending to kids while we wait for food, getting them set in a parked spot feels way more controlled than doing driving thru and feeling dishelved from trying to get things situated in a pinch.
Kids bags at their feet or next to their seat for fast access to THEIR items. I have found this to be the most effective way for everyone to stay organized, happy, and stops to remain quick. For instance, toddler has all of his snacks, diapers, toys, change of clothes, etc all in his individual bag by his feet in this size Large Tote Bag. My older two have their own two bags at their feet or next to their car seat that they can pick items out of during the travels. My 8 and 5 yr old pack their own bag with my help so that there is little room for bickering during the car ride– they know what they those chose and they know what they can have. I also always have a grocery trash bag stored inside their own bags in case they should need for trash/car sick/etc. I also keep this organizer in the passenger seat that is filled with only things that I would need in a pinch to pass to kids. Like, wipes, paper towels, extra few snacks, Dvds, iPads, chargers, my wallet, etc.
I know it has taken about 8 years for me to write and construct this post, but if there were ever a comprehensive blog post on ALL of my tips, favorites, hacks for car travel with littles (especially if you are solo)– THIS is that post!
now that my kids are a little older I feel comfortable wearing my Air Pods Pro (or just put one in at a time) while kids are occupied with a movie or some are napping. Honestly, my Air Pods have been a lifesaver when I am trying to focus on the road while talking to someone. I am able to have them on the car loud speaker, but if they are watching a movie or a child is asleep then it’s just not ideal — which is very often. So, Air Pods have been a new sanity saver this past year. We bring one iPad mini in the car that the older two share. I did not include those on the big list because I assume most have their preferred tablets and preference on use of them during a car trip.
Must Have’s for the Car + Parent to feel equipped during Solo travel
(Shep’s) Toddler Travel Favorites
(Sully’s) Pre School Boy Favorites
(Scarlett’s) School Aged Girl Favorites
1-3 Hr and 4-5 Hr Destinations by Car to Consider This Summer from Birmingham, AL
Next, I was going to share the feedback I received via Instagram on destinations to travel to from Birmingham! I first asked for destinations 2-3 hrs away, and also got some good suggestions for destinations in the 4-5 hr window as well. So, I will break these down by time frame and also share activities in each destination that were “must to do’s” in those destinations. This is a short list that I would love to expand on more one day, but for now, this is the feedback I received via IG stories and wanted to have a permanent place to share.
1-3 Hr Weekend Travel Destinations from Birmingham, AL
Atlanta Omni Hotel pool is in the outfield of the Braves stadium)
World of Coca Cola
Coolidge Park ~ for a picnic and enjoy the a splash pad water area for kids.