Taking a road trip is oftentimes hard on adults, add a toddler to the mix and you are in for a long trip of hearing “are we there yet” more than you ever thought possible.
Our family typically takes 1-2 road trips a year and we are currently gearing up for a 400 mile, 6.5 hour trip in a few weeks.
With that in mind, I thought it would be good to share some of the ideas and tips that work for us. These things have helped us travel to our destination with our sanity still intact.
- · Games and activities are important for a road trip to be successful. When I was a child, we played the ABC game. You go through your ABC’s and find words on billboards and signs that begin with each letter of the alphabet. Even though most toddlers can’t spell, they should be able to recognize letters and this is a great way to teach them with a fun game.
- · In addition, activities like I-Spy, and a toddler version of 20 questions go over really well. For more ideas on fun and unique games, check out PBS.ORG creative car games.
- · Games will be fun for a while but if mommy and daddy need a break it is a good idea to have an assortment of toys that the kids can play with in the car seat. A good one is; a Camera – For us that means our daughter’s Fisher Price Digital camera. She can take pictures of things along the way just like mom and dad.
- · Coloring book and markers or crayons – Never under estimate the power of coloring. It is a good idea to bring along something that will make a good hard surface such as a cookie sheet or if you have one, a car seat lap tray.
- · Make a surprise goody bag. This one works well for us because our daughter gets bored easily. I wrap a few inexpensive toys and put them in a gift bag. (The number depends on the length of the trip – normally one for each hour.) About each hour, if necessary, I let her pick a one of them from the bag and open it. This gives her a new toy that keeps her interest for a while and when she loses interest, there is another one for her to open.
- · Portable DVD player – when all else fails a DVD player and one of our daughter’s favorite movies will always do the trick.
Snacks & Food –
- · Just as important as activities is food. On our normal road trips, we are going to travel through at least one, if not more of our meal times. Being prepared helps us so we don’t spend a fortune in fast food.
- · Pack a picnic lunch. Rest stops along the way are great places to stop, stretch your legs, and have your lunch. If we are near a state’s welcome center, those are always the best rest stops.
- · For snack ideas, make a snack necklace. Remember the candy necklaces we wore as children, for this one I just load it up with pretzels, cereal, and mini marshmallows and my daughter loves it. I put other items in small clear snack bags, such as; grapes, strawberries, blueberries, animal shaped crackers, cheese fish crackers, mini marshmallows, and granola. You can use anything your child enjoys.
- · The key to snacks and food, is preparing in advance, so while we are on the road I can just grab something quickly for her.
Other Important Things –
- · Make sure to have the car serviced and tires checked before your trip.
- · Always keep a stocked first-aid kit in the car.
- · Make sure you have the car cell phone charger. We actually have a universal charger for the car that accepts the traditional plug as well as a USB port. This way we don’t have to have a different charger for every device.
Taking a long road trip with a toddler doesn’t have to be a hassle. With a few activities and a little planning, you can have a fun and easygoing trip. For a great checklist before you go check out RealSimple magazines Road Trip Checklist Essentials.