There is a huge difference between a vacation and a memory making trip. As a child my family didn’t travel much, and by much I mean like I can only remember leaving the state a few times. We would sometimes go on trips with church or even drive somewhere close but not many actual vacations. I didn’t really start traveling until I was 29 when I just up and traveled to Toronto by myself for cake decorating class.
I was bitten by the travel bug and I knew it was something that I wanted my children to experience early. I’ve always wanted them to know that the world was bigger than them and If they don’t like where they are then they can move. The best of them may not get a chance to shine in familiar areas. It’s something about the unfamiliar that cause you to use pieces of yourself that would otherwise stay dormant.
Memory Making Trip
What is a memory making trip? Well it’s definitely not a vacation that’s for sure. A memory making trip is just what is sounds like… a trip specifically for making memories. Parents can get the two confused and then we have our expectations all over the place. A trip with children is more work than just staying home and going to the park, there is nothing relaxing about it. Ask any parent that has taken their child to a Disney Park, the amount of planning that goes into these trips can be insane!
We knew that we wanted to travel this summer but the pandemic prices were a little up there so beaches were kind of a no-go. So I started looking up sensory friendly cities near the DMV area and Philadelphia came up. It’s a quick 3hr drive so I thought it could be really fun and I wasn’t wrong.
Y’all know I couldn’t wait to get Stella the Swagger Wagon on the road! If you don’t know who Stella is she is my new Chrysler Pacifica Minivan. Yes I am a part of the minivan mafia and I take any disrespect toward minivans personally! Traveling with Toddlers is just an experience but we try to make it comfortable for everyone.
I have driven home to Alabama (12hr drive) and I feel like I am an expert when it comes to traveling with them. These are my tips for just driving in general.
- Plan on stopping at least every 2-3 hrs. I realized that a well timed 15min stop is better than pushing them to their limits and making them tired and cranky.
- Have their FAVORITE snacks on hand. Pull out the big guns and give them that things that you NEVER give them. It makes them realize that time in the car is rewarded with the good stuff. Maybe it’s not a snack but a favorite movie or toy! If you plan on road tripping often save some things just for the car.
- Make one of your stops a meal stop. Let them get out and stretch their legs, eat outside of the car, and get a change of scenery. I know it makes the trip seem longer but its better for everyone.
- Roll down the windows if it’s not too hot. This will entertain my children for at least 45 minutes.
Driving is one thing but my kids will struggle in new environments so these are the items that make it easy to travel for us.
- Let’s go ahead and get it out of the way because I know how some families are about screen time. Amazon Kindle Fire simply because they have a 2 year no hassle warranty. They will replace it NO QUESTIONS ASKED! Mason has already thrown his in the bath tub and we got a new one in a few days. It’s not as advanced as an iPad but its perfect for my kids.
- Magic Ink Marker – We usually stay in Airbnb because its more room for our family of 5 or 6.
- I don’t want any markers on anyone’s furniture or walls. These are clear and they don’t mess up anything!
- White noise machine – This is a game changer. We use it in our home so when we are away from home it makes a strange place feel familiar.
- Melatonin Gummies – Judge ya mama! Again our boys get a little anxiety in unfamiliar surroundings so along with their normal bath routine this helps ease them into sleep a little better.
- A travel potty seat – If you’re in the middle of potty training like we are then this is much needed. It has it’s own carrying bag and you can spray it with lysol or wipe it down easily. It folds so it doesn’t take up much space at all. No more fears about needing to use a public restroom.
- Safety Wrist Link – I get a few looks at these but you won’t be able to say that I lost my kids in a crowded area.
- Contigo Tumbler – This cup was great at keeping drinks cold for long periods and it’s spill proof!
- Headrest Mount for devices – We don’t have screens in the headrest but this is perfect for setting up the iPad
- Middle Seat Organizer – This is a perfect space to store snacks, cups and toys at a child’s reach. That way you do’t find yourself turning around to give them items too often.
Traveling with any disability
I think that I have said before that I never want my children to be a prisoner to their diagnosis. It’s something they have but not who they are. I don’t ever want anyone to think that traveling with kids that are neurodiverse is easy. There are so many meltdowns and tears over things that they don’t understand. I believe that exposure is one of life’s greatest resources and it is my job as a parent to show them the world they live in. The world also needs to see them as well. They may be delayed but we will not deny them a full life.
We were able to visit The Philadelphia Zoo, Reading Terminal Market & The Please Touch Me Museum. These were great for children of all abilities. The Touch Me museum was my absolute favorite!
Sometimes fun is much closer than you think!