Recently, my husband and I decided to take a road trip to South Florida for Thanksgiving.
Lately, we have been making family weekend trips out of my travel for work.
After traveling with a now two-year-old and five-year-old on several 4+ hour trips, I have learned how to plan for meltdowns, activities to keep the little guys entertained and stops to keep everyone comfortable.
Let me show you how I have been able to enjoy road trips with a toddler and kindergartener.
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How do you plan for meltdowns on road trips?
I have found the best way to prepare for meltdowns on road trips is to plan.
Plan what time you are leaving, plan activities and plan stops.
Since we were going on a long road trip for Thanksgiving, we decided to get on the road as soon as the kids were done eating breakfast.
Typically after the kids have eaten breakfast they are content and go to their own space to do some independent play.
We also took into consideration what time the toddler takes a nap. We usually plan to leave a few hours before nap time so that there is some quiet time in the car for long road trips.
My five-year-old refuses to take naps anymore. Instead, he goes to bed pretty early.
If we really wanted some quiet time we could do some driving at night time. Honestly, we try to avoid driving at night. But it is always an option.
Remember to pack snacks. There is nothing worse than a hungry, cranky kid.
Have the snacks in a bag close by so that they can grab them whenever they’re ready. Or have them close to you so you can help them out.
How do you keep kids entertained on road trips?
Once the kids are in the car, I do my best to make sure that there are things to entertain them in close reach.
I stopped at Dollar Tree and picked up some tote caddies that came in handy to keep all of their toys and electronics close by.
There are some moms use the tote caddies as a perfect way to hold food if you have to grab something and continue driving.
I didn’t get to test this out because I convinced my husband to actually stop and sit inside of restaurants to eat. We all needed a break from being in the car.
And the kids seemed less cranky after stopping for 20-30 minutes to eat.
I also got these for both of the kids.
My two-year-old hated it and only used it for a few minutes. But my five-year-old LOVED it.
He sat for an hour with a dry erase board that I got from the Dollar Tree. Then would switch between watching videos on the Kindle Fire, playing video games on the Nintendo DS and drawing in coloring books.
The traveling tray was great for holding everything that my son needed to keep him occupied.
I made sure that both trays had coloring books, markers, puzzles, and flashcards to keep the little guys entertained.
I didn’t put crayons in there for fear that the crayons might melt and cause a mess. Even though it is the fall, it still gets pretty warm in Florida.
For the two-year-old, my husband found a way to detach the part that holds the tablet from the tray and secure it on the headrest so that the little guy could watch videos on the iPad without holding his head down for a long period of time.
Here are some other things that you can have to keep your child entertained:
- card games
- car games
- scavenger hunt
- memory game
How do you plan for stops on road trips with kids?
The last thing that we planned for was how many stops we would make.
I have seen people say that you should stop every 2 hours.
This time I decided to make two stops. One stop for a potty break and the second stop to get something to eat shortly before we got to our destination.
When we stopped to get something to eat it was the perfect time to fill up at the gas station. We were also within an hour or so from our destination.
So that we didn’t have to make another stop after eating, we had my son use a potty cup. If you have boys that are potty trained you have to have at least an empty water bottle.
It will save you from having to stop a million times for someone to go potty.
This will save you if you have what I like to call a “Tinkerbell.” This is a kid that has to go tinkle often.
There you have it. My list on how I keep the kids happy and quiet (for the most part) on long road trips. Let me know if you have anything that you have to do to ensure a smooth road trip in the comments below
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