If you’ve ever been trapped in a confined space with screaming children, you know how terrible traveling with kids can be. Planning ahead can make road trips with tots more fun for both the kids and parents. These seven traveling tips will help keep everyone in your car stay happy.
1. Timing is Everything – Chose your departure time wisely. When I was young, my parents would load everyone in the car for road trips at the insanely early hour of four am. They were morning people, and we kids would sleep along the way. Although I can’t bring myself to wake up that early, I do plan my travel times around little g taking a nap on route. That way there’s one less person for me to entertain while trying to drive.
2. Something Old, Something New – Entertaining kids on long trips is not always easy. One thing I do is bring a new toy along with us. Even if I just went to the dollar store, or got happy meal toys, the newness of the item is usually enough to hold their attention for a while. Also, if your kid has a favorite toy they can’t live without be sure to bring that as well. Just make sure you bring toys that aren’t messy. No markers or playdoh! This photo is from a trip when I let Big E bring along a styrofoam block he had been playing with. Needless to say, we both regretted that choice.
3. Technology – I’m a big fan of my Kindle Fire and iphone when it comes to road trips. Kindle Fire has a Kindle Free Time App specifically designed for kids, that has access to tons of books, games and videos. The best part of the app are the parental controls which allow you to set time limits for total screen time. If nothing else, the tots love watching movies on the devices, and I love them not screaming, “I’m bored!”
4. Music – On a recent four hour drive, I was desperate for a new distraction. So, I put on some toddler tunes and I kid you not, for a full hour both Big E and little g listened intently to songs like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “You Are My Sunshine.” Even on short trips around town we often sing together, and it can be even more fun to make singing a game. The SONG game (similar to the board game Encore) makes thinking up new songs a competition. A topic word is chosen, river for example, and teams go back and forth singing songs with that word in it until one team is stumped. Hint: the word LOVE can last forever.
5. Games – Old fashioned car games can always be a good option. I like the Alphabet game, where you search signs, license plates and billboards for all the letters in the alphabet. Also, I SPY and 20 QUESTIONS can be fun.
6. Food – Don’t forget the snacks! I like to bring some healthy snack options, like fruit and yogurt in a cooler, but that’s not all I bring. Part of the fun of road trips for me is eating treats along the way. Don’t skimp on the snacks when you’re stuck in the car with tots. Yes, your backseat will be covered with crumbs by the time you reach your destination, but a little vacuuming is better than cranky kids. I also bring water bottles with sippy tops for every family member to use throughout the trip, that way spills are limited.
7. Breaks – Don’t be afraid to stop along the way. I try to plan a twenty minute ‘run around’ time around gas station and food stops. Yes, it will take you longer to get to your destination, but kids need to move around, and parents do too. One note on bathroom breaks – to limit bathroom breaks make sure everyone uses the facilities before leaving and limit liquid intake to twenty minutes before your next scheduled stop. On the drive home from our last vacation, Big E had to stop three times in one hour so he could pee! Although I was annoyed at having to stop so often, I suppose it was better than cleaning up a backseat soaked in urine.
I hope these tips for tots on road trips is helpful. Happy Trails and let me know what outdoor adventures you’ve got planned!