6 Tips for Summer Trips to Grandma’s House
Ahhh, summer. Hot days spent at the pool, magical nights spent outside catching fireflies — and fun overnights at Grandma’s house! We know that traveling with kids is tricky, especially when visiting a not-very-kid-proofed-place like Grandmas. But with the right gear, organization and planning, your trip to Grandma’s this summer will be fun, memorable and stress free!
Organize the Car
Make the ride to Grandma’s house a little more enjoyable by being prepared and organized in the car! Having everything laid out and ready to roll, many times, can make or break your car ride experience.
Set your kids’ favorite books and games within their reach, have snacks readily available and be sure your trunk is strategically packed to maximize space and accessibility. Set yourself up for success!
We love how these car organizers by Lassig (shown here in Magenta Mushroom and Ocean Shark) keep all of your child’s essentials neatly stored in one place. From toys to snacks to beverages, this organizer can hold it all, in an adorably fun design as well!
Load these organizers down with a pack of crayons and a coloring book or notebook, a non-messy snack like raisins or granola bars, and stock it with a beverage in the drink compartment. Don’t forget a pack of wipes, which will be at an arm’s reach in this organizer! You can pack the organizer with goodies yourself, or let your child pack their favorite things for the trip, whatever will best occupy them on the road trip ahead.
This organizer is available in 4 color combinations, so you are sure to find the perfect one for your child’s personality!
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Have Your Meals and Snacks Ready
It goes without saying, but a hungry kid is an unhappy kid, so be sure to pack a variety of car-friendly, child-approved car snacks. A little food prep will save you lots of money — and keep your family’s eating on track!
Instead of pulling through to the next window for your order, consider planning ahead and packing a healthy alternative that travels well. Think sliced veggies and fruit, homemade granola bars, nut butter sandwiches and homemade energy bites. You can even buy reusable pouches for your kid’s favorite yogurt or applesauce.
We love homemade chicken nuggets from 100 Days of Real Food. They can be frozen after you cook them, or they can be put into your cooler, and they make the perfect “take along” meal for the road. They are even yummy chilled- or add the chilled nuggets to some fresh spinach greens mixed with lemon juice and pepper. The lemon juice will keep the leaves from wilting quickly, and will also serve as a delicious makeshift salad dressing.
Keep everything cool and fresh in this super-cool Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler. You won’t have to stop to change the ice or worry about it leaking, because it’s powered by a small fan that keeps everything chilled, which conveniently connects to the cigarette lighter port in your car.
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Rather than hitting up the germ-covered playland while on the road, check out this cool app called Oh, Ranger! It’s a free app that lets you locate attractions and activities wherever you are- so it’s perfect for roadtrips. Use your phone’s GPS location to find a nearby dog park to let your dogs stretch their legs, or a great activity center for your children.
- Take your homemade chicken nuggets and fruits and veggies and have a picnic lunch at a nearby park. The fresh air will be good for your kids, and even if there isn’t a massive play structure or playground at the park, they will have fun being outdoors.
- Create a game, and have them go on a nature hunt, where they bring back different colored leaves, sticks, or rocks. Once you get to Grandma’s house, you can take all those items and do a fun craft or display board.
- Take photos with your phone of them enjoying these parks, and print them at the local drugstore for a fun memory scrapbook craft!
Get Creative with Car Games
When you are heading out this summer, whether it’s by car or plane, finding ways to entertain your kids can be a struggle. Sure, movies and iPad games are great — but what about when those get old or your kids need a break? When traveling, you want to look for activities for your kids that they can do on they own, that keep them busy and don’t have little pieces that are going to get lost while you drive.
Smart Games has the cure for road trip boredom with their line of compact travel games that are not only fun, but are great brain builders! Each game comes in its own case with pieces that slide around or are magnetic, so they’re great for the car or airplane. Each game is designed to teach kids valuable brain boosting skills like logic, spatial awareness and problem solving skills. We love IQ-Candy, which features 60 different challenges to test kids’ brain power (and it’s fun for Mom or Dad, too!).
There are even games for the 3 and up crowd, like Three Little Piggies, which is a wonderful early logic game for preschoolers. Each of these games allow your kids to have fun and learn at the same time, and are perfectly compact for when you are on the go. So before you head to Grandma’s, be sure you are stocked up with Smart Games!
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When traveling with young kids, perhaps the most daunting obstacle parents face is how to pack all their stuff. Kids — especially babies — require so.much.stuff. And unless you’re renting a Greyhound Bus, even gear marketed as “travel-friendly” can take up too much space.
This is where Phil & Ted’s Traveller Portacot will save you. Weighing in at a mere 7 pounds, this portable playpen is lighter than most newborn babies! It’s compact, too — when packed up, it measures a slim 27″ x 10″ x 8″, making it easily packed in the tightest of spaces (or the overhead compartment of an airplane!). It’s super comfortable, too, with a self-expanding thermally insulating mattress that’s supportive-yet-cushy for even the pickiest of sleepers.
Plus, the Portacot doubles as a playpen, which is super convenient when you’re staying at a non-baby-proofed place like a hotel or Grandma’s house. The breathable mesh sides make this playpen airy and open — and you can easily keep an eye on your sleeping or playing babe. If your baby’s older, you can unzip the side while they play, and they’ll love going in and out of this comfy “home base” within their new environment.
Designed for kids from newborn to three, this crib is a worthwhile investment you can use again and again!
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Meanwhile, when it comes to chairs, summer travel doesn’t have to mean lugging around a full-size high chair, or even toting one of the “space saver” high chair seats (that never seem to save enough space, anyway!).
Phil & Ted’s Lobster High Chair is exactly the high chair you’ve been dreaming about for travel and home use. It collapses and fits neatly into a tiny travel bag that’s so thin, it slips under the backseat of your car with ease, or could even be tucked into a carry-on bag. With a 4-point safety harness and padded shoulder straps, your baby will be safe and cozy.
The Lobster High Chair uses two strong clamps with rubber grips that tighten onto your table or countertop (without damaging it), and support your baby when he or she sits in the chair (for children up to 37 pounds). It’s surprisingly and remarkably sturdy, and has a hard base to support your little one’s bum as he or she hangs out and enjoys a meal. Cleanup is easy: a removable dishwasher-safe food tray comes along with the Lobster High Chair, and the chair itself can be wiped down after each meal.
With a brushed stainless steel frame, and your choice of black or red fabric, the Lobster High Chair is a stylish addition to wherever your travels take you this summer – from Grandma’s house, to the lake house, to the hottest restaurant in your vacation destination.
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If you are traveling with a toddler or older child who is no longer in a crib, you may think that you no longer have to trek around any gear. While it is (usually) true that with age, the amount of gear may decrease, there are still some essentials that you won’t want to leave home without!
When beds are limited while the whole family is visiting Grandma, an inflatable bed that can be popped up just about anywhere will make for a good night’s sleep. For the kids that no longer require a crib, Tuck Me In Travel Bed is an inflatable bed that is made for kids but large enough for anyone. It features a fully-detached mattress for easy linen changes, which is soft and cushy for a cozy night’s sleep. The flocked surface is calming to make your kids fall asleep easily and has built-in safety bumpers to ensure that no one will be falling out of bed.
So, after a long day of running around with the kids, you can rest assured that they will sleep soundly and will wake up rested to do it all over again. No cranky mornings while at Grandma’s. It has all the great features of a regular bed, yet the Tuck Me In Travel Bed is lightweight and folds compactly for easy portability. It comes with a handy tote to carry it around on all your trips and an easy to use pump to inflate your bed quickly when you are tired and ready to turn in.
When it comes to sleeping, Babyhome Side Bed Rail has got you covered. If your child is no longer sleeping in a crib or pack and play then you want to be sure that they rest safe and sound and don’t weasel their way off the bed. Babyhome’s ultimate bed rail is the safest and most convenient way to do so with ease.
This bed rail is full of amazing features that will far exceed any expectations you’ve ever had for such a simple piece of travel gear. The aluminum frame is hinged in both directions giving the parent the ability to reach the bed without removing the bed rail. It also comes equipped with mesh windows that enable parents to easily see their little ones as well as fabric that can be easily removed and washed. Rest assured, the rail comes with safety straps to ensure that it stays firmly attached to the bed. The best part? The Side Bed Rail makes it simple for you to pack up and take it with you to Grandmas. It disassembles, folds up easily and comes with a handy travel bag. Anything that is easy for parents and safe for kids certainly makes for smart travel.
Have Grandma’s House Stocked Before You Arrive
Grandma doesn’t necessarily stock the organic formula, gluten-free snacks or almond milk you have at home — so plan ahead to ensure you’ve got what you need once you’ve arrived. Does your baby drink special formula? Is your toddler wearing pull-ups or swim diapers? Do your kids have allergies or dietary restrictions/preferences? Order your necessities online and have them shipped to Grandma’s! It will save valuable car space and make it feel more like home for your kids.
Does your toddler have cow milk sensitivity? Traveling for any distance is extremely tricky with a child that cannot have traditional cow’s dairy, and may leave you searching high and low for another option that is easy for on-the-go. Enter Kabrita USA Goat Milk Toddler Formula! You may scoff at the idea of your toddler partaking in “formula;” however, we cannot rave enough about this portable goat’s milk option. Maybe Grandma lives in a rural town, where finding goat’s milk at the regular grocery store isn’t as easy as it is at home? Hop on Amazon, and utilize Prime to expedite this formula straight to Grandma’s doorstep, so it’s ready and waiting for you when you and your crew arrive!
Goat’s milk is naturally easy to digest, making it a great option for young and sensitive tummies. Plus, it’s chock-full of 22 essential vitamins and minerals, including DHA, ARA and iron. Goat’s milk is also the milk-alternative choice of Dr. Sears! Kabrita USA is non-GMO, and has no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
“Kabrita’s mission is to provide the highest standard of goat milk nourishment for children, and inspire parents and health care professionals with expert nutrition education.”
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Plan for Fun!
If there’s a craft you want to do with Grandma, family recipe you’d like to make together or game you played as a kid that you want to play with your kids, plan ahead! For recipes, print out the recipe, then measure dry ingredients into a mason jar. Ask if Grandma can purchase any additional supplies, or go shopping together once you’ve arrived. For crafts, pack your supplies in a clear craft organizer, and have anything larger shipped to your destination. Pre-order any games you’d like Grandma to have, so she’s stocked and ready for fun!
So, grab your atlas, computer and iPhone and get planning. And be sure to tweet us some pics from your travels — we’d love to see them!
Tags: babyhome, backseat organizer, car organization, craft organizer, crafts, family activities, family adventure, family-friendly, HABA, igloo, kabrita, making memories, memories, One Step Ahead, overnight trip, phil and teds, recipes, smart games, travel, travel tips, travel to grandma's house, traveling with babies, traveling with kids
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Sarah is a yoga practicing, mostly vegan, coffee chugging, Jack White-loving, stay-at-home-mom to three kids 4 and under in Cincinnati, Ohio. In her free time, she does freelance work for Cincinnati Parent, Dayton Parent and Indy’s Child, and blogs about her adventures with three kids in the Queen City.