When taking a road trip with a toddler, GPS or navigation can’t lead us through all the car mishaps and toddler meltdowns that can occur. We love showing our little ones new places, but it can be a very rough trip. I’ve known some adults who don’t travel well in cars, so it doesn’t come as a surprise to me that toddlers can have a rough time in the car for extended periods. I’ve heard plenty of moms say that they don’t take many road trips with their kids until they get older. I actually love roadtrips with my two year old little guy!!! We have fun looking at the scenry, naming things, and talking about the cars and trucks. It also teaches him a little patience. To help other moms out, I provided some tips that I have learned along the way!
1. Dress them comfortably
We all have those favorite little outfits that we love to see our little ones in, but please save those until you get to your destination when traveling with a toddler. Dress them as comfortably as possible! You want something easy to get into and out of if they aren’t fully potty trained yet and still need to be changed. You also want something that won’t be too hot in the summer, or chilly in the winter. Also, have them wear shoes that are easily removed, or something that they can get off and on themselves. Car space is limited, so toddlers will play with things that they usually don’t, like their shoes. You don’t want to be stuck in the car with a toddler screaming because he can’t put his sneakers back on that he just took off 5 minutes ago. LOL.
2. Take plenty of toys, crayons, and new gadgets
No one likes dragging extra things with them, but you will need them while traveling with a toddler. Keep plenty of small dinosaurs and cars handy. Grab some paper and crayons for drawing and writing. Also, throw something new in the bag. There’s nothing more exciting to a toddler than a new toy!
3. Have electronics (tvs, dvds, tablets)
If your toddler is anything like my rambunctious two year old, he will get bored with things quickly. Be sure to invest in some portable DVD players for the car. They don’t have to be charged, and can just plug in so you don’t have to worry much about the battery dying. Bring a tablet so that they can play their favorite games, look at pictures, and entertain themselves a little more. Electronics can provide toddlers some calm and quiet time for at least a little bit of the ride.
4. Be ready to hear “Mommy” fifty million times
On our last road trip, I can’t tell you how many times I heard “Mommy”, but it was a ton. If he saw a cool truck driving next to us, he needed for me to see it too. If he heard a motorcycle approaching, he had to call me to see if I heard it as well. Then, there were the times that he wanted to say “Mommy” on repeat for an extended length of time.
5. Provide accessible and simple snacks and drinks
To avoid turing your one hr ride into two, take easy-to-open snacks! Have some healthy snacks provided for your trip. I love Tupperware! You can purchase one with different compartments, and fill it up with different little things (fruit, crackers, fruit snacks, granola, sliced veggies, and more). It’s also a lot less messy…. well, until it flips over! LOL. Sandwich bags that seal also work well.
6. Never travel alone!!!!
Traveling alone with a toddler is dangerous! There is a great chance of just pulling over and running from the car! LOL. Having that extra set of hands, eyes, and ears available is a blessing. It’s not easy to keep reaching in the back seat to pass your toddler a bag of snacks, or picking up a toy he’s dropped for the millionth time! Not being able to keep a close eye on them could be an issue as well. Toddlers put everything in their mouths, and you don’t want to risk something occuring. The hearing part is important as well; toddlers are loud when they don’t need to be, and tend to whisper when you need them to shout. Having an extra person also gives your toddler someone to entertain themselves with along the ride.
7. Do Not Build an extra tight travel schedule!
When it comes to toddlers, life is truly unpredictable. Having a tight travel schedule causes unnecessaried stress. Things always seem to happen when you don’t have time for them to happen. Make sure you have plenty of time to get where you need to go and back, without panic.
8. Have patience
Understand in advance that you are traveling with an unpredictable little person. Meltdowns and tantrums could possibly happen. Settling in that fact makes it easier for you to handle them when they do. Don’t get bent out of shape about it, melt down with them, or start yelling, and spanking. When meltdowns happen, step back and be patient. Toddlers haven’t learned traveling etiquette yet, and can’t always regulate their feelings. The best thing to do is to remain as calm as possible, so that you don’t heighten their breakdown.
9. Get plenty of rest the night before
The only way to survive any trip with a toddler is to have plenty of rest yourself. The night before hitting the road, get into bed early and sleep well. Wake up a little earlier to eat a good breakfast and have some quiet time. The only thing worse than traveling with a cranky toddler is traveling with an exhausted adult!
10. Take medicine
On the road, just like any where else, life happens. Traveling to different places can often cause illness. Where there isn’t much that you can give a toddler, at least be prepared for fevers with a little Tylenol, have tissues for runny noses, and antibacterial creams for potential falls and scrapes. You can never be too prepared on a roadtrip!
11. Keep it simple
Remember that they are toddlers! Where you can take a five hr ride somewhere in a day, they more than likely aren’t capable. Crankiness and tantrums are bound to happen. I try to do overnight trips, because they give both he and I a chance to rest. Having that time prevents meltdowns for both of us.
13. Make the destination worth the trip
Where traveling two hrs to go eat at your favorite restaurant may seem like a great idea to you, it’s probably not a good idea with your toddler. They aren’t wired to sit for travel times and lunch without any outlet. Take them somewhere that they can run, jump, and burn all that energy they have saved up during the ride. Make the trip memorable for him/her. Select kid- friendly places.