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Road Trip Tips Part I: Essentials

Road Trip Tips Part I: Essentials
By Claire Caprioli

When you have four children aged 15 months to 8 years, the most reasonable and sane way to enjoy family time over the summer is with a staycation. Being neither reasonable nor sane in our house, we loaded the kids into the minivan for a 10-hour drive (in one day) to New York. Fifteen minutes into the trip, the baby vomited all over herself. The result of a rushed morning, she showed no signs of distress or illness. The child sitting next to her helpfully observed, “Hey, I can see the peach chunks from the yogurt she ate this morning!” One child in the back began dry-heaving. Another child requested an immediate opening of all the windows. My husband pulled over, his jaw clenching and unclenching, as he mentally calculated that to head home, clean up, and head back out would put us back in our current location 45 minutes from now.

I, Supermom, with a smile and dismissive wave of my hand, popped into action. This was, after all, just a routine and minor hiccup in the day. (This was also several years ago, so my exact words, attitude, and demeanor have been lost to antiquity.)

While windows and doors were opened wide, I headed to the trunk. I retrieved paper towels, wipes, baby wipes, 3 plastic produce bags, an infant blanket, a roll of lifesavers, and baby clothes.

In fewer than 10 minutes (no joke), we were back on the road (did you not catch the Supermom reference?)



As girl scouts, boy scouts, and Scar from The Lion King all know: BE PREPARED. With proper preparation, 90% of your work is done and all that is left is to 1. Prioritize and 2. Act.

The next few minutes went something like this:

Lifesavers were handed out to children (this is akin to showing a bird a shiny object. It serves as a distraction and is met with wonderment: “Wow, mom never lets us have lifesavers at 7:30am!”)

My husband held open produce bag #1 while I wiped up as much as I could with paper towels. The baby was removed from her car seat, wiped with baby wipes, and changed. Her dirty clothes were placed in produce bag #2. Produce bag #2 was tightly tied off and placed in produce bag #3, which was also knotted (this would need to make the trip to NY without creating an odor.) Wipes were used to wipe down the car seat, and all wipes were discarded in bag #1, which could now be knotted and disposed of at the next pit stop. The baby was dry, but the car seat was now damp. The thin infant blanket was folded in half and draped on the seat to keep the baby dry without being too bulky and interfering with the seat belt. Boom. Done and ready to hit the road again.

There were no further incidents on that trip. Incidentally, this exact incident happened again about a year later. So, BE PREPARED.

Experience is a great teacher. Had this occurred with our first child, we likely would have tearfully made our way back home. Preparation requires: thinking out scenarios in advance, knowing what you need, and having everything handy. If what I needed was buried under suitcases or scattered around the car, this would have taken much longer.

In hopes that I might save you from just such a tragedy, I offer you a peek into my car:

--A mesh bag containing:
--Paper towels
--Baby wipes
--Produce bags. I can’t say enough about produce bags—they are flat, a decent size, can be folded into tiny squares, and work great for garbage and a myriad of wet or dirty items.

--Small plastic bucket within easy reach for kids, known as the “Puke Bucket” (name optional) which is lined, of course, with a produce bag
--Tissues, also within easy reach of kids
--Small bottle of hand sanitizer, napkins, straws, lifesavers in the passenger side door
--Small duffle bag with emergency clothes for everyone (updated yearly), and towel/baby blanket

These items do not take up much room and always remain in the car in a known location. May your next trip be trouble-free, but if it isn’t, I hope these tips help!