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Traveling With Kids – Beyond the Obvious

November 16, 2009

When traveling with children I found there are travel essentials every auto should have beyond the obvious safety seat, toys, games and books.  There are other things to consider which will make the inevitable problems easier to overcome:

Seat Cover: whether you have cloth, vinyl or leather seats you may find that a covering will save  the seat from an array of messes.  The cover can be something as elaborate as a custom made cover or a simple sheet, old blanket or waterproof mattress cover.  Using a seat cover enables a quick clean up especially after tots have a snack cracker with crumbs or carpooling with the soccer team after a muddy game;

Rubber floor mats: the carpet in a car is one of the first surfaces destroyed by children, they track in mud and soil which is ground in and never seems to vacuum or shampoo out.  The floor mats can be ones specially designed to fit your auto or generic (cheap) mats available at most auto stores or general stores;

First Aid Kit: even when traveling without children a basic first aid kit is a good idea.  The minimum essentials should include antibacterial wipes, alcohol wipes, band aids, gauze patches of varying sizes, rolled gauze bandage, tweezers, vinyl gloves, safety pins and ibuprofen;

Bottles of water: fresh water for drinking or cleaning up a messy situation;

Plastic bags of all sizes: quart, grocery and trash bags will come in handy for a variety of uses from storing open food packages, corralling trash or emergency rain gear;

Packaged cleaning wipes: allow a quick cleaning of the windows and car surfaces;

Rags or towels: my favorite are white washcloths I purchase at Target 12 for $2.99.  White does not have dies which will bleed onto the car upholstery or your clothing;

Potty chair: for the emergency roadside stop when a restroom is not near.  I found that my daughter was more comfortable using her potty chair than a public restroom;

Maps for the children to follow along on the trip.

My daughter was an avid soccer player throughout her youth and I had to learn to deal with a lot of mud.  I would allow the mud to dry, then using a dry scrub brush I would brush the mud to break up the large glops.  The vacuum will pick up dry mud and soil very well after it has been broken up.  Do not try to wipe up mud while it is still wet – you will rub the dirt into the fibers and find it harder to clean.

If there is a spill on the carpet or upholstery, immediately dab to absorb the spill with white rags or towels.  Again – do not rub, as rubbing will work any stain into the fibers and make it harder to clean.  I have found that cleaning a spill as soon as possible will avoid staining.  If the spill was something sticky like soda or juice follow the dabbing with a good soaking of water and more dabbing to remove any residual stickiness (or dirt will collect on the invisible stickiness and cause staining).

If I have a stain I can’t clean I have found that a quick question at the dealership or shop where I have my car serviced will usually garner an offer of their favored cleaning solution for just that problem.

Whether your kids are children or pets these basic ideas apply.  The tricks I learned through traveling with my daughter work just as well for when we have our dogs with us.  When traveling with our dogs we always throw in a water dish and a dog bed which they have available to them at home.  Road trips can be a lot of fun and most messes can be easily overcome.

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