So, unlike “normal” families, our yearly vacation, is our trip (s) to Denver for Sophia’s children’s hospital appointments. Children’s has all of her specialists (cardiology, genetics, pulmonary, special care, neurology, etc.) This time, we will be there for a whole week. They could only get one appointment scheduled a day, which will be nice for her, but a long trip nonetheless. Over the past 2 1/2 years, we’ve gotten a pretty good routine down while preparing for our trips. These can be applied to any general vacation too.
The first thing, is to book your hotel as far in advance as possible. This ensures the best rates, and you have one less thing to worry about as the time gets closer. Ask friends who have stayed in the same area, what hotels they recommend. We would have never even known about the hotel we stay at, without my heart mom friends.
Second, make a list. I do 2 columns. One for us, and one for Sophia (guess which is longer😉). Do it a couple of days before you’re leaving, to ensure that you aren’t rushed trying to remember what to pack.
We try to leave as early as possible. We aim to get on the road by around 7. That way, we can stop and get coffee, or a quick breakfast if need be, and we won’t be rushing to beat the sun.
Pack activities for your child to do in the car. Sophia hates being stuck in her carseat for long periods. Especially since she’s older now, I have purchased a few quiet, easy toys and activities for us to do while driving. I also bring a clipboard, so she has a hard surface for drawing, etc. I purchased most of them at the dollar spot in target. And I won’t let her play with them until we leave. I’ve just been telling her about her special road trip toys, to get her excited about going. They’ll hopefully keep her busy, at least until she falls asleep😉 I also recommend dressing your kids in t-shirts, and light pants/leggings or pj’s. Not only are they more comfortable, I don’t know about your kids, but Sophia tends to get sweaty in her carseat if she’s in heavy clothing. Which makes the trip more miserable for everyone. I have an extra blanket that I keep in the car for her, and her winter coat is on top of her diaper bag if we need to use it when getting out of the car.
Fill up either the day before, or on your way out of town. Don’t wait until the fuel light is on to stop for gas! Fill your tank before you leave!
Buy your snacks before the trip at the grocery store. Gas stations charge outrageous amounts for their food. My husband loves a certain brand of jerky, that only convenience stores sell, but I try to go to the grocery store before we leave, and get any road snacks we may want. It saves time, and more importantly, money!
Make sure you have a first aid kit, jumper cables, and a few basic car tools in your trunk. Just in case.
Check road conditions before hitting the road. This is especially crucial for those of us who live in the mountains. It can be bright and sunny where you live, but the passes could be a nightmare. Check before you leave, so you know what to expect while driving.
I also like to clean my house before we leave. I wash all the blankets, clothes, etc. Vacuum, dust, wipe down counters with clorox wipes, clean the bathrooms, run the dishwasher, clean floors, throw out leftovers in the fridge, and make sure the trash is taken out. It ensures that your house doesn’t have a funky smell when you get home, and coming home to a clean house is the best feeling after a long trip.
Now, for special needs parents. We always have an emergency bag in the back of our car. It has about 5 outfits for each of us, and some basic necessities, just in case we are unexpectedly admitted to the hospital. This majorly cuts down on outside stress. Also, many hotels have hospital rates. Ask for the children’s rate, and they will give you a discount. We also have a tag attached to Sophia’s carseat in case of emergency. If we are unconscious, the medical responders will know: her blood type, heart condition, name, and normal oxygen saturations. This part is crucial, because her 02 sits lower than average, and the last thing we would need, is an unnecessary intubation.
Last, wear comfortable clothing. My husband has worn nice jeans on multiple occasions, and regretted it everytime.
I hope these tips help make your trips a little easier, and if you have any, please share!