They say it’s about the journey, not the destination but when going on a road trip with little kids it’s about surviving the journey in hopes of reaching your destination. I have a very adventurous two years old who would run for days without stopping if you let her so keeping her occupied in the car for hours at a time is an interesting challenge. I have some wonderful memories of road trips growing up and I hope Luna looks back fondly on our road trips as well! Here are a few tips that have kept us all alive on our road trips.
Leave at Night
This is one of the best pieces of advice I have received about road tripping with babies and toddlers. DRIVE WHILE THEY ARE SLEEPING! Depending on the time of year and how long of a trip we are taking, I try to leave around dinner time. I can keep Luna occupied for a few hours and then as soon as she would be getting too antsy she can fall asleep and we can keep driving. Obviously, safety is the number one priority to make sure the adults that will be driving are rested enough to continue and stop as soon as you are getting too tired.
Split the trip in two
In my single years, I would have balked at this idea because I am a mover, I just like to go, go, go! I just want to push through and get there already! Being a mom has taught me that I won’t always be able to do everything as fast and efficiently as I once could but that slowing down, enjoying the moment and being patient is all part of the fun! If your time and wallet allow it, try to split your trip into two separate stretches. Knock out the first half of your trip and then rest at a hotel so you will be refreshed and ready to go in the morning. It is helpful to plan a few different options of where you will be able to stop. The last thing you want to happen is to be at the end of your rope with crying kids and no hotels nearby. Plan A get X hours to this city that has a few hotels and Plan B if things are not going so well and junior never went to sleep then have a closer city that you know will have a few places to stay as well. If you have an adult passenger you can bid on a hotel on Priceline.com
when you are nearing your stopping point. They allow you to pick your area, the number of stars you prefer and name your price (there will be a number of recently accepted bids for your criteria and I usually bid just under that number, but you only get two bids!) Be aware that they take your credit card number first and if your bid is successful you can’t cancel so make sure you firm up your plans before bidding! All that being said, It is a wonderful feature and I have gotten lots of rooms at a great discount!
If you have kids, I am sure you already thought of this but seriously, don’t forget the snacks! Bring a variety, the goal is to keep your child occupied and distract them if they get restless! Bring drinks too but be careful to much liquid could lead to extra bathroom breaks!
Honestly, diapers are easy when road tripping, you just change and go! If you have a toddler that is potty training or recently potty trained you may need to do a little more strategizing. If you have the space bringing your child’s portable potty might be a great idea, they can go in the car in the potty they are comfortable with without having to wrestle with the gas station bathrooms.
The other strategy I have used is a tiny folding portable potty seat! It folds up so small enough to fit in your purse and fits on nearly any toilet! If you want to be extra careful about germs you can even layer it on one of these disposable toilet seat covers for the greatest potty experience!
Toys and Activities
I usually bring a few trusted toys and activities that I know my daughter enjoys as well as a few new activities. A secret weapon of mine is to find a new sticker or coloring book because I find it keeps her occupied a little longer than one she has already played with a lot. Some of our favorites are:
All the Screens
Despite our best efforts to explore nature, read lots of books and avoid screen time at home all of that goes out the window on road trips. I need all the help I can get! We have a DVD player in our car so we bring a few movies. I also bought an adapter cord so I can stream Netflix from my phone to the TV. If you don’t have a DVD player built-in there are great options for portable players that plug right into your car for the younger audience or tablets for the older kids. Headphones are really great especially if your child likes watching the same thing over and over like mine! Trust me, I can recite finding Nemo by heart.
Enjoy the Journey
Although sometimes it is easier said than done and you’re just longing to reach your destination, it is really so important to intentionally stop and enjoy these moments. Enjoy the crying and the tantrums along with the laughter and the adventures. Take time to step back, soak it all in and enjoy it, because before you know it they will be off on their own road trips and you will miss this.
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Where are you headed on your next road trip? I would love to learn about your trip and your favorite tips for surviving the car ride with the littles! Thanks for stopping by!