Road tripping with toddlers – it sounds like a party, but believe me – it is not as fun as it sounds (wait… Does it even sound fun? If it does, you've probably never done it). If you have toddlers, you're planning on taking a vacation this year, and you are thinking of traveling by car, its a good idea to make sure you're ready.
I've traveled halfway across the country and back by myself with two kids under the age of two six times in the past year. By now, I've developed a pretty good road trip system. I thought I'd put together a list of tips and must-haves when you're hitting the road with toddlers.
Road Trip Must Haves
1. Toddler potty. Because toddlers never have to go when you're driving past twenty gas stations – oh, no. They wait until you're in the middle of nowhere going through a construction zone. Yes, I have pulled over in a construction zone and whipped out the ladybug potty for my screaming two-year-old.
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2. Snack tray. Grab a bead or craft organizer from Walmart for this amazing DIY snack tray. Put your kids' favorite snacks in, and then you're not constantly digging around for the snack that they just have to have.
3. IPad or DVD Player. Movies are one of your best friends during road trips. We load about ten different movies onto our iPad before a trip. Tip: let your kids choose the movies – otherwise you may have meltdowns.
4. Activity tray. I'm sure if you've ever looked at pinterest, you've seen people using cookie sheets and magnets for car activity trays. They really are as amazing as all those pins tell you, and they are SO EASY to put together! This one is a simple alphabet matching game.
5. Sing along kids songs. Because even though you will want to rip your hair out if you have to sing “Wheels on the Bus” one more time, the songs keep your kids happy and entertained, and that's more important than your sanity, right?!
Road Trip Tips
1. If at all possible, start driving at bedtime. I always, always, ALWAYS drive through the night. Its just so much easier to not have to entertain my kids for 16 hours. Instead, I only have to keep them busy for maybe six hours total. Yeah, I'm a zombie the next day, but we all go to bed early, and it's totally worth it. It's even easier if there are two adults driving instead of just one.
2. Know that things will go wrong. Nothing ever goes perfectly when road tripping. Don't stress about things you can't control. The last hour of a road trip is always the hardest on everyone. Expect crying, maybe some whining, and probably some fighting. As long as you stay happy and don't stress, things will be easier to deal with.
4. Don't be afraid to take breaks. You need them and the kids do, too! When you stop at a rest stop, get moving – play a quick game of tag, do some jumping jacks, or do the hokey pokey. Get some giggles out and let the kids run off some energy. Everyone will be much happier when it is time to get back in the car.
5. Be safe. Set things up in easy to reach places before you start driving. The last thing you need is to get into an accident because you couldn't reach the iPad. If worse comes to worse, pull over, find what you need, and get back on the road. Swerving all over the place is not worth saving two minutes.
Have you ever road tripped with your little ones? What are some of YOUR must-haves and travel tips? Let us know in the comments!