If you are hitting the open road this summer with your kids a little prep work can go a long way. We are only days away from our annual mid-western trek, that means open suitcases are taking up my whole bed and laundry is going non-stop. After 10 years of summer road trips, we have learned a thing or two about how to travel a long distance with babies, toddlers, kids and even kittens. Read on to see what we do to keep our road trip disasters to a minimum.

Keep the ink on the page – Unless you like multi-colored stripes on your upholstery, and we got them once. I recommend buying Imagine Ink booklets for the little kids. These books included markers or water pens which don’t leave marks on anything except the Imagine Ink paper. The water pen ones are great for little kids 3 and under, as they are reusable and work well regardless of accuracy. For older kids try the marker versions they are more accurate and take a little longer to do. If you end up inked anyway keep a Mr. Clean Miracle Eraser on hand.
Got Milk – Grab some shelf stable milk, like Horizon or Hershey and use a small cooler to keep them chilled until it’s time to drink, though the chilling is not required. We prefer the Horizon brand of milk for taste.
Keep Cool – We used to pack a hard-sided cooler for our snacks, but it took up too much space in the car. I use a Thirty-One brand soft side cooler and love it. There are other brands of soft-sided cooler available at the store, but my Thirty-One seems to hold the cold in longest and be the most resilient. I also prefer it because it is easier to sling over my shoulder with the other bags I have if I need an extra hand. It does not cool as well as a hard side cooler, I typically get about ten hours out of it using two ice packs.
Make a designated travel bag – I don’t know what it is about trips, tummy troubles, and headaches, but we seem to always have them. I always pack one gigantic bag with an extra change of clothing for everybody. It also has medication, drinks, cash, my phone, and wipes. I learned to keep spare clothes for me after one particularly bad blow-out.
Mom snacks – My personal favorite travel item is a big bag of trail mix. I don’t go on a trip without it. I occasionally share, but my kids and husband have been known to eat all the M & M’s and Almonds out of the bag, leaving me to choke down dry peanuts and raisins. If you have a favorite item, such as chocolate, store it under your seat to keep it from prying eyes. It will melt if left in the trunk. I know this from experience.
Listen up – Audiobooks are a must for us. They don’t necessarily have to be kid’s books, especially with toddlers and babies, but we seek out clean audio to listen to while they are awake. My older child enjoys the Lemony Snickets “A Series of Unfortunate Events” books on Audio, and my toddler likes the Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood series. The good news is you can grab an audiobook for free from your library. You can either get a physical disk or sign up for the Hoopla App. From download to a book is less than two minutes. 

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