Just taking my two little guys grocery shopping can be a daunting task. So when my schedule for work required me to travel more often.
My first thought was to travel alone and leave the kids with my husband. That plan was completely shut down and my husband insisted that we all travel together as a family.
I cringed at the thought of a long road trip with my two young kids. They are great kids, but in the car they get impatient and fussy.
Now that I have traveled several times with my kids I feel comfortable traveling with them. And I actually enjoy it.
With preparation, you too can keep your kids comfortable and happy when going out of town or on vacation. Here are some ideas.
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Bring along some drawing supplies
Kids love to get creative when they are riding. If you’re worried about having artwork on your toddler’s clothing or the seats of your car, there are plenty of no-mess art options available.
My favorite is the Crayola Mess-Free Markers. These markers are amazing because they only show up on the paper with the paper specially made for these markers.
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These markers work great for my 5-year-old, but for the 2-year-old I prefer a magnetic drawing board. Only because he drops things often. If he drops this pen it’s no big deal because the pen is attached.
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Having some artwork in the car will easily get the kids distracted for a period of time so that you can a few moments of quiet.
Bring some favorite toys
I used to put toys inside of the car often when we were traveling, but then the kids started dropping them. And if I didn’t get the toys so enough the crying and whining started.
There’s nothing worse than riding down the road peacefully, then all of a sudden hearing wails of discontent because your toddler has dropped his favorite toy.
I have found the larger toys are easier for me to grab in the car.
The last thing that you want to do is to stop and hunt and look for the toys in nooks and crannies.
The game changer for me is the traveling tray.
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These trays fit just about any car seat and can hold your little one’s toys and artwork with ease. The best part is you can take this on the plan and in your car.
Load this tray up and your little one will have a longer playtime which means more quiet time for you.
Don’t forget to bring snacks
Toddlers inevitably get hungry during trips. Trust me, it doesn’t always happen at mealtime.
Healthy snacks such as Cheerios or grapes fit nicely into snack baggies and allow your child to help himself.
You could fill a sippy cup or two with juice to bring along in a cooler as well. Don’t forget to bring snacks for yourself.
Bring a pillow
Pillows are essential if you are going to be traveling more than a couple of hours.
Your toddler will get sleepy at some point on longer trips. And sleepy often equals cranky.
Keeping your toddler comfortable will help ensure that he doesn’t wake up cranky as well.
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Give up the electronics
As much as parents talk about limiting screen time, long road trips are not the time to stick to the rules.
Letting your little one have the tablet or iPad for a little longer will save your sanity.
You can remind your little one that once we reach the destination or a rest stop that we will take a break from the tablet.
Get something new
Something that I recently started doing is getting the little ones a new surprise on the way back.
It is usually something inexpensive like a coloring book from the Dollar Tree or another car for them to add to their collection.
Getting something new always generates enough excitement to keep my kids excited for several miles.
Plan to stop
Before you start driving, plan a realistic number of rest stops. If you will be in the car for several hours, you will probably need to stop at least every two hours.
If your child is potty trained you may have to alter your rest stop schedule a bit. But making sure to stop every so often and let your toddler stretch his legs will help ward off crankiness.
I take my kids with me on a four-hour trip often. My husband does not like to stop unless we absolutely have to.
We have managed to plan nap time around the time that we will be driving. This only leaves a few hours that we have to keep the little guys entertained.
One thing that comes in handy with my potty trained boys is having something to pee in.
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You can purchase a portable urinal or keep an empty bottle with a large opening available.
Whatever you do, risk the urge of emptying the container while the car is moving.
I don’t know from experience. But I did hear a story from a friend that his wife tried to empty the bottle pee out of the window while the car was moving. And the pee ended up flying back into her face because of how fast they were going.
Bring some of your toddler’s favorite music and have a sing-along.
This has the potential to keep your toddler occupied for hours on end, and it gives you something that you can do together while riding.
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Road trips with your toddler can be enjoyable. Bringing along enough supplies to keep them occupied and keep their stomach full will help ensure their happiness.
Remember, a happy toddler is the key to a pleasant ride.
This post is a part of the series 31 Days of Parenting Tips for Busy Moms With Young Kids. Each day throughout the series I am discussing a different topic regarding parenting young kids. I’d love for you to follow along and share this series with moms who may need some support or just to hear that they aren’t alone in their journey of raising young kids.
Find all of the posts in one place on the series homepage: 31 Days of Parenting Tips for Busy Moms With Young Kids