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Friday, October 4, 2019

Road Trips with a Toddler

A long distance road trip with a toddler is no joke!  And now that Derek and I have a few longer trips under our belts (9.5 hour and 12 hours) I thought I would pull a post together to share my tips and tricks for making the trip as smooth and as fun as possible!

Keep in mind I am not expert, these are the things that worked for us!  So let's get started!

Toys/Books - I bring A LOT of toys/books on trips with us.   Not only are toys and books great for a car ride, but they are great for the end destination too (think play time in the hotel, bedtime stories etc.)  I typically fill Theo's little school backpack with an assortment of his favorite smaller toys and a few of his favorite books (think balls, small toy animals, toys with buttons/zippers, cars , flashcards and interactive/activity books).  Being that I sit in back with him on most longer trips I simply pull one toy out at a time, let him play with it and when he gets bored move onto the next!  A favorite activity on our last long car ride was putting his small toy animals through the holes in Derek's helmet.  Once all the animals were pushed through the helmet, we would free them and start the game all over (pictured below).  Get creative and use other non-toy things in the car to help pass the time!

Snacks - Car friendly snacks are a must!  I love having an assortment of yummy and healthy snacks that pack/travel easy and help fight off hunger.  I throw car snacks into there own bag and put it in the back seat next to my toy back pack (mentioned above) so snacks are easy to grab and hand out when hunger strikes!  Here are a few of my fav/go to portable snacks!  Applesauce/Vegetable Pouches (we love the GoGo Squeeze Brand and Costco Brand), Teddy Grahams, Goldfish Crackers, PB + Graham Cracker Sandwiches, Bananas, and fresh berries washed and stored in small tupperware containers (but warning, this can get a bit messy if your little one smooshes them or drops them in the car).  I also make sure to pack a water bottle/sippy cup for Theo, you gotta stay hydrated!

Stops - Lets face it we all get antsy on long car rides!  Stops for us were/are key when taking long road trips!  We usually will make a lunch/dinner stop depending on the time of day we start our road trip, this is nice because it is typically a bit longer of a stop and everyone can get a good meal in them (you don't want anyone getting hangry)!  Along with stopping for Lunch/Dinner we will also make the occasional bathroom/gas station stop or park stop!  We have found that even though stops will make the trip a tad longer, they help with our sanity in the end!  Everyone does better on a long car ride when they can get out, stretch and run around!

Naptime - Take advantage of nap time and use it to your benefit!  Theo only takes an afternoon nap these days, but we still have learned to use that afternoon nap to our advantage!   Below are two ways that we have utilized nap time to our advantage -

1 - If you are going on a longer road trip and you are going to be breaking the drive up over a few days start the first leg of your trip later in the afternoon.  For example when we drove out to MI we drove half on Friday evening and the other half Saturday morning.  Here is how our Friday evening half looked... We picked Theo up from school around 1 PM (close to his typical nap time) and let him nap in the car (roughly a 2-3 hour nap).  When he woke up we played for a bit with our bag of toys, had a snack and made a pit stop to stretch our legs.  Then we drove a bit more, stopped for dinner, changed him into PJS and drove to our hotel for the evening.   Since we drove the second half of our MI trip in the AM, we left after breakfast and just made more stops to stretch etc to keep everyone happy.

2- If you are not planning on driving the trip over multiple days, I recommend leaving in the AM after breakfast and then keep your little entertained with toys/snacks etc.  Make sure to make plenty of stops to keep people happy!   Stop for a longer lunch and then get back in the car for nap time!  

And my last and final tip... don't hate!

Ipad/Movies -  Sometimes on a long road trip you just need to sit back and relax and that is where the Ipad/Movies come into play.  We use the Ipad/Movies as a last resort when snacks/toys/books/and stops just aren't cutting it.   We typically have 1-2 movies downloaded to the Ipad that Theo can pick from and then we usually let him watch 1 movie during the road trip to our destination and then another movie home.  Again, we use this as a last resort when we all just need to relax!

I hope you found this post helpful!  Again, I am not an expert these are just the things that have helped us when traveling with our little by car! 

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