Thursday, December 22, 2016

10 Must-Haves for Holiday Travel With Kids

This post is sponsored by MobilityWare in partnership with Blog Meets Brand.  My opinion of their great game is all my own.

It's that time of the year again.  Growing up, my family never really had to travel very much for the holidays.  Both sets of grandparents lived within 15-20 minutes, so it was easy to make it to see pretty much all of our family on holidays.  I never really had to travel for Christmas until I started dating Noah (who has family all over the place).

But when you add kids into that mix?  Oh man, it gets sticky.  You're talking about excited, sugared-up little creatures that want nothing less than to be stuck in a car seat for hours at a time.  They're ready to see family and jump head-first into all things Christmas.  But never fear - there is a way to make the holiday travel you're about to endure a little more tolerable for everyone!

I've found that being prepared is absolutely key to a fun car ride for everyone involved.  Below, I'm sharing 10 of my absolute favorite things to have in the car for a holiday trip with kids.  Trust me - this list will make your life over the next week or two so much easier!

1. Car-friendly holiday snacks.  There are so many ideas for holiday-themed snacks that are actually really easy to prepare and perfect for car snacking!  We always try to skip the expensive gas station snacks in lieu of making our own.  If you're looking for easy holiday treats, carrot sticks and/or raisins can easily be called "reindeer food." 😉 A few of my favorite creative ideas include apple cinnamon muffins, gingerbread men, Snowman String Cheese, Grinch Fruit, or Reindeer Popcorn.  Apple cider or (not-so-hot) hot chocolate are great ideas too!  And, I've also got a list of a few of my favorite car picnic essentials over here.

2. An extra pair of festive clothes for each child.  Parents, you know it's going to happen...the instant you put that adorable outfit on your child, they're going to do something to require a change.  We usually choose to travel in PJs or something comfortable/warm and change into those cute Christmas outfits once we arrive at our destination.  I like to have them separate from the suitcases for convenient last-minute changes in the car!

3. Holiday-themed DVDs and CDs.  I don't need to tell you about favorite holiday movies...I'm sure each family already has a good selection of those.  Make sure to bring them (and possibly a few of your favorite Christmas songs on CD) on your holiday trip!

4. Coats & blankets.  Even here in the south, it is cold this week!  It isn't usually very safe to have thick coats on when a child is strapped into a car seat, so we choose to keep a few warm blankets in the car instead.  You could always drape coats over the child once they're buckled in the car seat as well.

5. Disposable grocery bags for trash.  One of my favorite car ideas ever is to keep a stash of disposable grocery bags in the car.  Without them, it seems like there's trash all over our car, especially with all of the cards/wrapping paper/bows that accompany the holidays!  Everybody in our family knows that if there is trash, it goes in the bag instead of in the floor board.  This helps with car clutter SO much.

6. Wet wipes (whether you have a baby or not!).  Wet wipes are so incredibly convenient in the car.  You're going to have them if you have a baby, that's a given...but we keep them stocked for quick clean-ups too!  They're perfect for sticky little hands and face clean-ups, not to mention little spills in the car.

7. Age-appropriate small toys.  We keep a small plastic box in the middle of Emmie and Jackson's car seats.  We're working on putting toys in there once they're done!  In it, I have lots of medium-sized toys that will keep them entertained in the car.  I usually let Emmie pick hers; Jackson's are bigger rattles, teethers, etc.  We like to include things that don't make too much repetitive noise (for our sanity 😉) and are big enough that we don't worry about choking hazards (since we are in the car and Jackson's car seat is still rear-facing).

8. A small first-aid kit, including medicine for seasonal colds and allergies.  I usually like to keep a standard first-aid kit in the car, but during the holiday months, it's especially important that i have medicine to deal with seasonal colds and allergies.  You never know when those are going to sneak up, and that medicine can be pricey at convenience stores/gas stations!

9. A holiday-themed road trip scavenger hunt.  This is the perfect opportunity to include a little family fun in your trip!  Make a list of things you want your children to find on your car trip, adding in a few holiday-themed items.  A few ideas...
  • Particular colors of Christmas lights
  • A car with a Christmas tree on top
  • Yard reindeers
  • A house with a certain number of wreaths
  • A blow-up Santa/Reindeer/Snowman/etc.
  • A car with Christmas decorations
  • Holiday-themed billboards
10. A device with a few fun, age-appropriate games (for Mom and Dad, too!).  Sometimes, a good app is all you need to curb the "are we there yets."  And rest assured, I get them too - I like to keep a few games on my phone that don't necessarily require wi-fi (for those trips through the middle of nowhere).  A good brain game is always nice, as are the classics!

A great idea for kids (and adults) of all ages is Solitare by MobilityWare.  This app is like a souped-up version of the classic Windows card game we all know and love, just on-the-go on your favorite iOS device!  It's easy enough for kids to use but provides the same puzzle-solving fun that adults love.  Plus, I love that it can be played with or without an internet connection.

This app goes so far past just a simple card game!  You can enjoy the fun of earning Daily Challenge Trophies, crowns, and even a current trophy status.   If there are multiple phones in the car, compete against your friends & family (or even a random player you don't know).  The app is even compatible with both iOS and the Apple Watch!

Want to give it a holiday theme?  You're in luck!  MobilityWare's Solitare provides fun themes year-round.  I currently have a festive holiday theme on my game, but you can also load Spring themes, rainy-day themes, even New Years' themes...there are lots of possibilities.

You can't go wrong with a free, classic mobile app that's sure to entertain the whole family!  You can click here to head over to the app store to download MobilityWare's Solitare now.