Friday, May 31, 2013

Road Trip Tips

Before we left for our vacation I spent countless hours searching pinterest for ideas of what to do with the kids while driving down to Florida.  I knew that we were crazy for thinking we could do an 18+ hour drive with a 2.5-year-old and a 1-year-old.  I wanted to be as prepared as I possibly could be. 

Now that we're on this side of the trip, I can honestly say it wasn't that bad.  Here are some of my tips for road trips with young children:

1. Know your child.  Micah has never slept in the car for a long time.  When he was a baby he would fall asleep and stay asleep but ever since he turned about one he just doesn't stay asleep for very long.  Sleep is important to us so we decided that the majority of our driving would be during the day.  Worked great for us.  The one time we drove at night was a nightmare.  Micah slept for 20 minutes at a time and then would wake up whining.  We didn't end up getting to the hotel until 1am.  If you are confident that your child will sleep well in the car, then maybe night driving will work for you.  Whatever it is, just know what will work best for your child!

2. Have plenty of entertainment!  I stocked up on new entertainment for both of the boys.  Some of the biggest hits were:
This Thomas busy book was awesome!  It has 12 little trains plus a huge storymat to put the trains on.  Plus, the book itself is a story.  By far, Micah's favorite toy the whole trip.  This is all he played with on our trip from Nashville to Atlanta and it was the first thing he asked for whenever he wanted a toy in the car.  It also provided lots of entertainment in the hotels.  They have several other versions, and we also bought the Cars version.

Playing with his Tag Junior
We bought Micah a tag junior and several books to go with it.  He loved reading the books, especially once he discovered that he could make some of them sing!

He also really enjoyed just playing with his toy cars.  We brought all of his Radiator Springs cars.  I gave him a cookie sheet to play on and he was set for a long time.

He loved having his Color Wonders (again, just used the cookie sheet as a hard surface) and putting stickers on paper.

We got a few books on CD that he really enjoyed listening to.  And, of course, we had several DVDs for him to watch just in case.  In honesty, we didn't turn to the DVDs very often (except the day he was sick, that was pretty much all he wanted).  He was so entertained with everything else that he didn't want to watch anything.

Enjoying a yummy cereal bar.
3. Pack lots of snacks!  Before we left, I stocked up on everyone's favorite snacks.  We got goldfish, teddy grahams, animal crackers, raisins, granola/cereal bars, fruit snacks, nuts, fruit, etc.  I put everything in snack size baggies so that we could just pull one out and pass it back.  I stored the snack bags in larger gallon size bags and then everything was put in one of my organizing utility totes from 31 and kept in the front seat by me.  We also bought a gallon of water and filled all of our water bottles up at every stop.  We went super overboard with the snacks, but I never once had a meltdown because someone was hungry.  Also, I tried not to have super sugary snacks since we'd be sitting in the car, but I also wanted easy and what I know he would eat.

Climbing the playplace at one of the many  McDonald's we stopped at.
4. Make plenty of stops.  This can be tough because you just want to be there, but it's important to stop when you need to.  There's not much worse than a crabby toddler who just wants to get out of the car.  We typically stopped every 2-3 hours.  We planned an activity for each day to get us out of the car and stretch, but we also stopped for one meal a day.  We usually chose someplace that the boys could run around, typically somewhere with the playplace.  These stops usually lasted an hour or so and were perfect for everyone!

5. Have something to prop your kid's feet!  We found this out about 4 hours into our trip.  Micah was so uncomfortable because his poor little feet were hanging down his car seat and his legs started to hurt.  We stacked a couple of suitcases/blankets/pillows so that he could straighten out his legs and he was much more comfortable!

6. This one is more about packing, but still a great tip.  I'm sure you've heard to put your child's clothes for the day in a gallon bag.  All accessories, etc. so they can choose their own clothes and everything is there for them.  I didn't think my kids were old enough for this, but we tried it anyway.  Worked great!  I labeled the bags with what day the boys were supposed to wear the outfit and my hubby had no trouble getting the boys read in the morning in an outfit that I approved of!  Also, we discovered that it really does save space in the suitcase (clothes were not bagged on the way home and took up way more room!).  Love this tip!

That's it for now.  Check back soon for my tips on doing Disney with toddlers!

Finally!  Asleep in the car!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome suggestions. We always have long car rides to visit family. I'd add driving through the night sometimes makes it easier on the kids (longer stretches where they can be asleep. It's tougher on the driver in some ways but easier on the kids. The only other thing I'd add (that goes with knowing your kids :P) is having a car sickness kit. You can look up some great suggestions online. Dramamine is a life saver for our kids who get super car sick.