Holidays: Traveling with a Toddler
I hail from the Garden State. Some of you might refer to it as the Armpit of America, but for me it is affectionately called home. My husband is from New England. You all can let out an Ooooh! (I know you want to.) So when we got married we knew that holidays would always be spent traveling to see family whether it be between fields of snow or the inhalation of suburban air. We also knew that once we had children road trips would become more difficult. Side note: a year into our marriage we moved six hours and ten hours respectively from each set of parents.
We’ve done several trips over the last nineteen months of my son’s life. As I write this we planning our next trip because of — you guessed it — Christmas. I wanted to share some tips we have learned about road tripping with a child in hopes that you don’t make the mistakes we made and that your trips are a little calmer and a lot less chaotic during this busy season. While my tips are geared for a younger crowd, I do think that some of them can be applicable to all ages!
#1. Plan around a sleep time. I know plenty of parents who forgo sleep at night so their child can sleep the eight hours in the car. If this works for you and you have an extra set of hands the next day, I say go for it. We typically gear our car rides around nap time. We leave before the nap and allow our son to get tired in the car. This gives us a head start and then the added time of his actual nap.
#2. Plan your bathroom breaks and amount of beverage intake. I emphasize the “your” here because this one is not about the kiddos. This tip correlates to the first one. We have learned that when the car stops moving, the child starts stirring. We have worked to alleviate this dilemma and drink smaller amounts of coffee and do a bathroom trip immediately before said nap time.
#3. Borrow/Buy a new toy/book. Our last trip I asked a couple friends for some toys that would be “new” to our son. One book in particular entertained him for a while because there were stickers all throughout it. It was not something we owned and it captured his attention.
#4. Plan one longer break. For a six hour car ride having one lengthy stop has been beneficial to us in the past. Lengthy can be whatever you decide but for us it was about 30–45 minutes. Once over the summer we stopped for lunch (something we needed anyway) and had a picnic outside. It helped to break up the monotony of the trip and get some fresh air.
#5. Bring your kiddo’s favorite snack. Just do it. You will all be happy and hopefully have some family at your destination who can take care of the momentary sugar high.
#6 Sit in the back with your child. OK, this might sound like a no brainer to some of you but sometimes I just don’t want to (just being honest). I want to sit up front and have an adult conversation with my husband. But I remember that my son is probably bored alone back there and just my presence can help the car move along a little while longer. I can then play games with him or read him a story too.
How about you? Do you have any tips to add to this list? I would love to hear about them below. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and that some of these tips can be a help if you have a long drive ahead of you with little ones!