Welp, we just returned from a 12 hour road trip to St. Louis where we surprise visited my family! I was TERRIFIED to confine our family in a small space for that amount of time, but it was a great success!! So glad to have that under my belt. Here are some tips that worked for our family, and I hope they work for yours as well!
1- 6 days before: If you do not have a car dvd player, buy this. This iPad HOLDER was my lifeline. Make sure you purchase and FULLY download your movies/shows beforehand. Remember a power cord and car charger, and check to be sure the cord is long enough to reach the iPad- if not, order an extra long one. Power up!
2- 5 days before: NEW is key. Go to your public LIBRARY and get children's sound tracks and audio stories. I HIGHLY recommend choosing an artist who won't make you lose your mind (ie. Jack Johnson 'Curious George', Zooey Deschanel "Winnie the Pooh", definitely nothing with Elmo). Also, let them choose some board books to bring along.
3- 4 days before: Go to TARGET (obviously), and get stickers, coloring books, crayons, play doughs, and fun toys from the $1 section. Get a clip board (I got mine in $1 section) to color on. Don't let them see their new goodies until the trip! Keep the target bags and put them in the car for trash and whatever. I gave the girls a little stuffed animal when we got in the car to get them excited for the trip and they snuggled with it the whole time-- I pulled out maybe one more surprise toy when we started to go down hill (that's ok on a 12hr road trip, right? ;)). Also get the car shades- I didn't find them to be super effective, but at least you feel like you tried. My fav toddler blog, Love&Lion, also did a post on this and reminded me to put sunscreen on them and wear sunglasses if you're traveling during the day- great tip!
4- 2 days before: get lots of SNACKS. We loved wholes apples (keeps 'em occupied), bananas, Squishers, Craisins, nuts, and goldfish snack packs. Remember little baggies too to hand back. And a paper towel roll!
5- Maximize on SLEEP times. Obviously drive during nap times (keep blankies and lovies accessible), and also try to knock out a chunk later in the night or early morning if possible. We may or may not have given them a teeny 1/2 of a Melatonin gummy to help during sleep times (per a pro-mom friend's suggestion-- ps. they are really yummy and work and I am not a doctor and don't do this in real life :) ).
6- We found it really helpful to stop for a meal and get a good BREAK (I feel like their little tailbones get so sore in those carseats :( ). We even stopped at a real restaurant, which was fine because by the time I changed everyone's diaper, washed hands, cleaned out sippies, and cleaned trash out of the car, the food was there :).
7- Arrive and drink red WINE.
That's what I got! Yay, road trippin'.
GOOD LUCK! I hope this helps you, and I'd love to know your tips and tricks. XO