Road Tripping with Ronin

(Apologies on posting a day late, but let’s face it, the mountains and wifi are not best friends.)

Today we set off on a new adventure – road tripping to West Virginia! My sister Jenny and her two sweet kids live there and let’s face it, a vacation was needed. So, 7am, Ronin and I hopped in the car with my parents to start the 12 hour drive.

While I’ve taken Ronin on planes, trains, and short car rides, I had no idea what to expect on the extended journey. I’m going to share with you all I learned from driving in cars with toddlers from not a single changing table on the road to getting the wiggles out!

Let’s start off with what to pack. This one may seem like a no brainer, but aside from outfits and the obvious (carseat, diapers, wipes, etc.), there are really some important goodies that will save your sanity. First, a cooler. You have no idea just how handy this space taker will be until you are on the road. Ours was loaded with Pediasure shakes, carrots, milk,  and ice packs. Just to the side, we had our snack stash.

Now, with a toddler, you generally end up making a few elongated stops to help shake the wiggles out, so whether you’d like to pack meals or not is your own prerogative. Our stash included Goldfish (Ronin’s favorite), Ella’s Apple and Ginger Cookies,  Cliff Bars, Trail Mix, and fruits. All of these are at most crumbly and allowed for super easy clean up. Next, toys. Ya know ya need ‘em. While you may think the whole toy box needs to come to keep your little one occupied, there’s no need to go overboard!

I packed a small backpack of goodies for Ronin and that was it. Heck, most of the time you can give him a straw wrapper and he’ll be happy for hours! In his pack, granted this will vary from kid to kid, he has a kazoo, his teddy, a ball, wooden airplane, sunglasses, and his magna-doodle pad.

Attire. It’s incredibly important to dress both yourself and your little one in comfortable clothes. If you’re traveling from hot to cold, bring layers, but don’t overdress. Remember that your little one is going to be buckled into a carseat for quite a long time and won’t want to be wearing a frilly dress or stiff denim, no matter how cute it is. Ronin started off in pajamas, since we left while he was still quite sleepy, and changed into denim leggings and a cotton tee before lunch. I brought his Vans for an easy shoe to slip on and a zip-up fleece for the chillier stops during the day. When it came to my outfit, I adorned black leggings, muscle tank, chambray shirt, and flats. My hair was held up in a bun and my makeup, well quite honestly, I just didn’t wear a damn thing.

While driving, its inevitable that someone is going to need a potty break, whether its your or your babe. I swear to you, every place we stopped either did not have a changing table or it was out of order. It boggled my mind that not a single gas station or restaurant even tried to accommodate changing a baby/toddler and you were left to your own devices to change your little one’s ‘situation.’

It was a world of help to have my mom at a few of these stops to hold Ronin’s hands so they wouldn’t touch the bathroom floor or end up grabbing toilet paper to stuff in his mouth like cotton candy. We mastered the stand-up diaper change a while back and boy was it put to use today! It may seem daunting, but here’s how you do it.

Step 1, remove any clothing in the way of the diaper while your toddler is standing up (either against a wall like he’s being frisked by the police or holding the hands of a helper). Step 2, have your new diaper ready in your lap as you squat behind your tot. Step 3,  remove old diaper and replace it with the new. Put the behind on first and line it up with their bum. Using your knee, hold the diaper in place and pull it through to the front and secure with flaps. DONE!

The last thing I’ll leave you with is the knowledge that all parents know after one long drive… be prepared to take stops. Whether it’s playing in the gas station lawn, running up and down the ramp at Denny’s, or taking it the local flavor, remember that your journey can be just as memorable as the destination. Take advantage of the smiles you’ll get when your little one stretches their legs or gets to pretend they’re steering “Hobo Joe’s Firework Truck.” Plan ahead and understand that while your drive may be twelve hours on the road, you may spend three hours in rest stops or grabbing food for the family. We’re road tripping warriors now, ready to take on any drive, any time.

Original post October 18, 2014 on


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