This year was RJ and Milly’s first year back in a traditional school setting after two years of homeschooling with me and that transition left me missing them terribly while they were at school.
This year, during every school break, I made it a point to plan something, anything, that would give us an opportunity to spend some real quality time together. We hadn’t visited New Orleans in a couple of years and so I decided to plan a trip. I absolutely love NOLA and since it is a tourist hotspot, there is always so much to do for families which makes it a great vacation spot for me who has only traveled once without my kids since becoming a mom.
The kids were out of school for Spring Break for a week; March 9th through the 13th. That gave us plenty of time to drive from San Antonio to New Orleans and spend a good amount of time there, having fun and seeing the sights, while also leaving space for rest and relaxation before going back to school and our regular day-to-schedule.
If I’m being honest, we weren’t thinking much of the coronavirus or the ramifications of the disease at that point. Everyone we knew was still traveling and the conversation surrounding what was happening was still, at least in our circle, this thing that was happening across the ocean and not really affecting our decisions.
We drove to New Orleans, checked into our Airbnb on March 9th, and enjoyed our Spring Break together as a family. We hopped around, trying new (delicious) restaurants, we walked around the French Quarter, played at Storyland Park, enjoyed a performance at the infamous Preservation Hall and had a family photoshoot with a local photographer. More details on all of this to come but the point that I’m trying to make is that we were simply living our best lives with much care in the world. We checked out of our Airbnb on the 12th and headed back home.
New Orleans saw its first coronavirus case on Mar. 9. which we didn’t know about until after we were gone. Just two weeks later, confirmed cases jumped to almost 600 and nearly doubled in the following three days, marking NOLA one of the fastest coronavirus growth rates in the country at the time. Then, New Orleans shut down in a big way.
It was surreal to read and watch all of the unfold in a city that we had just visited and if I can continue to be honest with you, scared the living daylight out of me. I felt like I was holding my breath, waiting for the worst to happen, for the next two weeks; hoping and praying that we hadn’t caught the virus while we were visiting.
Luckily, we are safe. The incubation period of the coronavirus has passed and we are all seemingly healthy.
This is crazy time we are living in.
Stay safe out there.
Until next time,
This is it! In a couple of days, we will be headed down the highway to New Orleans and I couldn’t be more excited. We have prepped and packed and now I’m sharing some tried and true items that you need to give a chance on your next road trip with your kids.
Here are some basics notes to keep in mind:
- Each kid needs his or her own “carry-on” bag. This is the backpack or bag that will stay with them while they are buckled up during the drive. The essentials. Not the other goodies you may have packed in their luggage that is packed in the trunk of your car.
- Headphones are a must if you are allowing your kids some screen time during the road trip. Tip: Let your kids have screen time. We are a “no-screens” house during the week but, best believe, I let my kids have their fill of screen stimulation during road trips.
- Dry Snacks. Nothing that is juicy or saucy or requires dipping or a spoon. Just. Don’t. Go There. Trust me.
- Mini Colors. These are usually reserved for toddlers but older kids should travel with the “fun-size” markers too. They fit better in small backpacks and are less of a hassle for that very reason.
- Limit Water/Juice Intake. This is mainly for the kids. I send my kiddos to school with a 10-12oz canister of water every day and they come home with about 8-10 oz of that same water so I do not feel bad limiting their drink to a few sips at a time while we are on the road. Doing this will keep you from having to stop every hour. Get through that initial hour without having to stop (which only invigorates the kids because they get to stretch their legs and people watch) and, if you’re lucky, your kids will be asleep and you won’t have much to worry about for a while.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get into the list that you came here for. These items are tried and true for our family. RJ and Milly are 7 and 5, respectfully, and they have both been traveling since infancy. We are that kind of family which means that we have gotten pretty dang good ( if I do say so myself) at anticipating needs and mishaps and being fully ( eh, pretty much) prepared for anything.
Like I mentioned above, make sure each kid has their own bag of goodies – a small backpack with 2-3 sections/zippers works. Inside each bag, add their travel drink bottle and dry snacks. This is also where you will store the following:
- sunglasses. Kids tend to start to complain after a couple of hours in the car….about any and everything and the sun is no exception.
- toys. focus on “travel” sized games and things that don’t have a lot of pieces.
- coloring books. There are so many miniature coloring books out there so you won’t be hard-pressed to find one that has a theme each kid will enjoy. This is also where the mini crayons and markers come in. I suggest buying some that come with a good travel case for easy storage and organization in the backpack.
- iPad/tablet. Make sure it is fully charged and all the kids’ favorite apps are updated and ready to go.
If there are only two kids in the back seat, place a car tote in the center seat as a catch-all for random things (there’s always random stuff with kids, am I right?) and trash. If there are three kids, put it on the car floor by the kids’ feet but have one somewhere in the car!
If your kids are still pretty young and their heads still sway forward and side to side while they sleep, get a neck pillow that wraps around their entire neck instead of the ones that just drape over the shoulders; these bad boys will catch those big ol’ toddler heads and keep them from rolling.
A cooler is always a good idea so you can avoid spending unnecessary money and wasting precious time on food. Pack your drinks, pre-made sandwiches, and fresh fruit in there and call it a day.
Last, but not least, always, always, always have a first aid kit and throw in some motion sickness meds while you’re at it! You just never know.
Shop All The Things & Prep For Your Next Family Road Trip!
Until Next Time, all the good things,