6 Tips for Taking Long Road Trips with Toddlers
Hey, everybody! I’m Kendra, blogger at The Kreative Life and I love sharing amazing tips for busy moms. We all know that it’s about that time for everybody to start heading out for summer vacations. A lot of us are loading up our cars and taking long road trips with toddlers or young kids.
Yes, I know it may sound scary because they’ll be strapped into their car seats for hours and will probably get bored easily if they don’t have anything to do. As parents, we need to be prepared. I’ve taken my 2 and 3 year old on long road trips by myself a few times, and it hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be the first time we went.
I knew that I had to be prepared because they were so young and I knew they’d ask for a lot while I was driving. I want to share these tips for taking long road trips with toddlers with you. Hopefully, it’ll make your trip as smooth as possible.
Travel While They Sleep
When possible, get an early start on your road trip. Hit the road before it gets light outside. Load up the car with everything, except the food, the night before, so all you have to do is wake them up to get them dressed and strapped into their seats. Since it’s still dark, their bodies won’t be fully awake, and the motion of the car usually puts them right back to sleep. Being in the car that early also helps them to sleep longer than they usually do. This may give you about a good four hours of them sleeping while you’re driving.
When they wake up, stop for a quick potty break and to let them eat. After that, get back on the road until it’s close to their lunch and nap time. Let them get out and walk around for a bit. Maybe have lunch at a rest stop. After having a full tummy and running their energy out, they’ll go fast to sleep.
Have Tons of Snacks
There’s something about the summer that causes kids to want to eat more than usual. Road trips make kids really snacky (is that even a word?) even more. Bringing a snack bag full of crackers, dried fruits, and any other easily edible finger foods is highly suggested. Also bring a large cooler pack to store premade sandwiches, bottled water, fresh fruit, and hummus. All of the snacks helps with not having to stop for fast food while you’re on the road.
Keep Them Entertained
Keeping toddlers entertained while on long road trips is a must. We all know that a bored toddler could lead to a fussy toddler. Pack each child a small bag of crayons, plain white paper, a coloring book, reading books, and two of their favorite toys. An easy hack that I use is to bring each child a cheap cookie sheet so they can use as a lap table for coloring and when it’s time for snacks, they can use it for their food.
If you don’t have tv’s in your car and choose to bring a tablet for them to watch movies, make sure that you bring the car charger for the tablet and you’ve already downloaded a couple of movies.
There’s nothing worse than streaming a movie on the road and then it starts to buffer in the middle of your kids’ movie.
Bring the Comforts of Home
Most toddlers have their favorite items that give them comfort when they’re at home. It may be a blanket, a favorite stuffed animal, or even a baby pillow that they can’t go without. Make sure you bring it, especially if it’s something they can’t go to sleep without. If they’re having any anxiety about being on the road for so long, this will definitely help them out.
Bring On The Clean
Be prepared to have wet wipes, a roll of tissue, napkins, and sanitizer close at hand. We know that some kids are messy at home, but when you add a moving vehicle and limited elbow room things can get worse.
Spills happen and you don’t want apple juice staining your car seats if your toddler figures out how to unscrew the top on their sippy cup. Having napkins and wet wipes close by will help you clean up the mess quickly.
Whenever you go to rest stops for a potty break bring the extra roll of tissue with you. Can you imagine waiting in a line for the restroom with your toddler and the only one that is free is one that’s already out of tissue?
The hand sanitizer comes in really handy when you have a toddler who needs to do number 2 while you’re at a rest stop and you don’t have a toddler toilet seat available. If you don’t have a small bottle of spray disinfectant, then you can use the hand sanitizer to semi-disinfect the toilet seat.
Squirt the sanitizer on the seat, wipe it off with tissue, let it air dry (it doesn’t take that long), and then use a toilet seat cover or tissue to cover the toilet seat before your child sits down.
Planning Over Night Stays – It’s good to have a plan of whether you’re staying at hotels or with family members before you reach the final destination of your road trip. Even though your children will be with you, it’s still an unfamiliar place for them to sleep. If you’ve been driving all day and are stopping around their normal bedtime, do your best to stick to their evening routine. Take showers, brush teeth, and read goodnight stories as you’d do if you were home.
Bring a night light, so they can see their surroundings and not be scared if they wake up in the middle of the night. After they’re in bed and the night light is on, sit next to them and point out everything in the room, so they won’t think it’s “monsters” in the corner staring at them.
You can say, “See, this is the desk where the lamp is and that’s the chair you were just sitting in.” Also, leave the bathroom door cracked with the light on just in case they need to go pee in the middle of the night.
I hope these tips help you when you take your next road trip with your children. If you have any tips or special hacks that you’d like to share, please leave them in the comments below. I’d love to read them.