This summer (in 11 days!) we are packing up the family and driving all the way from Arizona to Maine! We’ll be spending 3-4 days on the road to get there, two weeks in a beach house, and then another 3-4 days to drive home. Needless to say, this is a large undertaking! Today I’m sharing some tips for traveling with toddlers.
In case you didn’t know, we have an almost 6-year-old, a 3-year-old, and a 1-year-old. Those are very different ages with very different needs. The older kids are easily amused with books, games, and tablets, but it can be harder to entertain the younger crowd and keep them happy when traveling long distances. I know I would hate to be strapped in a car seat for hours on end with little else to do but pass a toy from hand to hand and drink a bottle!
Here are 10 parent-practiced tips to help make traveling with toddlers fun:
1. Choose a family-friendly destination. Skip the crowded tourist destinations and opt instead for a locale that is accustomed to having kids around.
2. Safety first! Always make sure your child’s car seat is properly secured. Also, use a removable window shade to help block the sun. A comfortable baby is (hopefully) a happy baby!
3. Pack whichever toys, books, videos, and games will entertain them the most. Consider giving each child a new toy on the morning you leave, or give each child a bag that is specifically to carry the toys and books they want to bring.
4. Plan rest stops. If you’re driving, break up the monotony by stopping every couple of hours (or more frequently if necessary). My husband and I try to drive late into the night, because it’s easy when kids are asleep in the car. We’d rather take a long mid-day break and let the kids play at a park, rather than stop earlier and attempt to get restless kids to sleep in a hotel room. Better to wait until they are asleep, drive a little longer, and then carry them into the hotel rooms where hopefully they stay asleep!
5. Be flexible. Set realistic expectations and let your child soak up the experience at his or her own pace. You might want to limit your activities to one a day. Otherwise, you could wind up with an over-stimulated toddler.
6. Bring water and plenty of snacks. Fruit, granola bars, mini juice cartons and small boxes of cereal make for great, healthy snacks.
7. Bring a beloved item. A blanket or cuddly toy will help your toddler feel safe and secure.
8. Start and end your day early. Kids are at their best in the morning and tend to melt down in the afternoons, so plan accordingly.
9. Stick to your routine. Eating, napping and playing at the same time each day may be all your child needs to feel comfortable in a new environment.
10. Take lots of pictures. They’re only young once, so enjoy every moment!