After moving over 500 miles away from friends and family, my husband and I have become somewhat of expert road trippers! Before our move to Charleston, we promised each other we would always try to make it home (Delaware) for family weddings, showers, babies and other big events. While it has been challenging and exhausting to drive almost ten hours to make these events, it is always worth it to spend time with family and friends.
Read on for some tips and tricks that have worked for my family. Long road trips with toddlers aren’t always fun, but they are doable and can be very memorable!
- Schedule your departure to ensue your baby catches some quality zz’s on the road. Fortunately, we have an easy-going toddler so we have been able to leave early in the morning, mid afternoon and after bedtime. She is typically able to stick with her nap time schedule on the road. Our departure time typically depends on work schedules. However, I always dress our toddler in pajamas so she is comfy and in sleep mode! We also have a small stuffed animal sleep machine attached to her car seat and she has her special lovie called Bedtime Bunny for nap time snuggles.
- We always leave one seat empty next to the car seat, but my husband and I both sit up front. We have found that when someone sits next to our toddler, she expects our attention for the entire car ride. That can be an exhausting ten hours for everyone! However, we will jump back there for a little face-to-face contact, some patty-cake and some snuggles when she becomes cranky or bored.
- Bring snacks. Lots and lots of snacks! Snacking gives you and your toddler something to do. Also, food can double as toys. Our toddler loves to play with cups and napkins. Make snacks accessible and easy to grab! Having snacks also gives you the flexibility to save your stops for when your baby is fussy. If she’s happy and/or sleeping we keep driving!
- We prefer driving to flying because we can pack everything we want, but the car fills up quickly with bags and baby equipment. Make sure you can reach your essentials quickly. I make sure I can reach toys, snacks, bottles/cups, diapers/wipes and a change of clothes easily.
- When she has had enough and the tears start, I whip out a new toy she has not seen before! I buy cheap toys at the grocery store (stickers, trinkets, magnifying glass, bath toys, etc.) and put them in different bags and containers. I use bags that I get as free gifts from cosmetic stores and plastic Tupperware. Half the fun is unzipping and opening a variety of containers to find the toy. We also bring the interactive books that sing and tell stories to help keep her entertained. Our toddler is not interested in the iPad or TV yet, but I’m sure that will help the time pass in the years to come.
- My husband and I enjoy listening to Pod Casts to help pass the time. We also listen to Talk Radio and Doctor Radio while driving. The talking on the radio helps the little one fall fast asleep!
Whether you’re spending an hour in the car or many many hours, road trips with toddlers can be a lot of fun. As often as we road trip with our toddler, I have leaned to be patient, take a lot of deep breaths, and enjoy this time with my family.