Going on long road trips with a toddler can be daunting. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably reading this post at 3 a.m. after spending the last 2 hours worrying about how your family is going to handle the drive without you losing your mind! Don’t get me wrong: traveling with young kids is bound to have a few moments of hair-pulling frustration. But with a little planning and some reasonable expectations, you can make it through and still have an enjoyable vacation! We spend a lot of time traveling with our kids, and below you will find my top 10 tips for making your next trip as easy as possible with a Toddler and/or baby.
Background Information: I have a toddler and a baby who is currently six months old, so I’ve included information that is helpful for kids of both ages.
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Before you hit the road take a few moments to make sure your family will be safe in the event of an emergency.
The best thing you can do for your sanity is plan most of the drive during the time your kids are typically asleep. If we can drive through the night, we will leave right after a good dinner. We will stop at the gas station and my husband, and I will get a few energy drinks for the drive. Then around our kids’ usual bedtime, we will start playing their lullaby music. After a few minutes, they will usually bomb out (and my kids are not good car sleepers). Then my husband and I have the rest of the evening to talk and enjoy our drive without having to stop for bathroom breaks, diaper changes, and food.
If you can’t drive through the night due to either schedule conflicts or because you don’t think you can stay awake through the drive(safety first, people), then the next best thing is to plan your drive time around your kids’ nap schedule. Ideally, we like to leave after our kids have eaten lunch. That way they are nice and full and typically getting ready for a nap. Both my kids’ naps will be extremely short if taken in the car, but we take what we can get! Then we will stop for dinner at their regular eating time – let them play a little and hope for the best when it’s time for bed (if the road trip is that long).
Or as comfortable as they can be sitting in a car for hours on end.
I cannot stress this enough! Bring TONS of snacks. Bring a variety and bring things that your kids don’t usually get to eat (see # 9 below). Things that are easy to dole out in the car and don’t make huge messes are my go to’s. Good options include squeezable fruit and yogurt pouches, goldfish, bananas, oranges, graham crackers, cereal, popcorn, raisins, cheese sticks and grapes. I like to put the snacks in these containers so my daughter can get them when she wants them and I don’t have to reach back to hand them to her continuously.
I like to make a quick run to the dollar store or target and find some new things for my daughter to do during the drive. I put them in a cute backpack or ziplock bag and hide them in my On the Road Bag (see #2 above). Then when my daughter starts to get bored and complain, I pull something out of her bag and hand it to her. (I do the same thing on long plane rides). Shannonagans has an awesome Toddler Activity Bag that’s filled with small cheap toys perfect for two-year-olds! Check it out here!
Research things to do along the road before leaving. Schedule one (or two if it’s a really long trip) pit stops along the way during regular activity/eating times, where you can grab something more hearty and filling to eat and take it to a local park (weather permitting). Or stop at a fast food chain that has a play area attached so your toddlers can take some time to get their energy out.
This applies to adults as much as kids. If the kids are entertained or asleep my husband and I like to play car games. Some of our favorites include the ABC game or 20 questions – Disney addition.
We relax a little on some of our rules when we are on a long road trip. We let our daughter watch movies on the iPad (see #10 below), and we let her keep her binky throughout the drive. I try to keep the snacks as healthy as possible, but I usually pack a few treats to give her when things start to get rough. We let her take her shoes and socks off. I don’t stress about the little things she does like stuffing her graham cracker in the cup holder of her car seat. I just try to keep the peace as much as possible and go back to regular household rules when the road trip is over.
Our backup plan is the iPad. We pull it out towards the end of the drive when our kids are really starting to get antsy and irritable. We have a mini iPad in a protective case that we bring on every road trip. It’s stocked with a variety of kid-friendly movies (Tigger and Tinkerbell are our families favorites for toddlers), digital books, and games.We use this case because I can hang it over the headrest behind my daughter and she can’t touch the buttons. She’s not old enough to quite understand how to use the iPad. This way I don’t hear “Siri not available” the entire drive!
Do you have any suggestions? We’d love to hear about what you do to keep yourself sane during long road trips with your little ones!
There is so much to do at Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa! From amazing pools to beautiful beaches, this resort is a dream for many