We’re eager for summer to come because for us that means ROAD TRIPS! We’re hoping to explore a lot of the US, but we are doing it with a toddler so we’re preparing now. We learned quite a bit about traveling with a toddler when we traveled the world, but we mostly used public transportation which is a lot different than having your child strapped into a car seat for long periods of time. Here are some things that we learned and are looking forward to using again this summer:
Bring snacks he can feed himself
Food is always a good distraction when traveling, but reaching back behind you every minute to hand your child another piece of food gets old really fast. We made it a point to bring snacks that Carter could feed himself and it was great! It kept him entertained for 30-60 minutes depending on the snack. We would give him a small pack of crackers, a piece beef jerky, or a whole apple to let him feed himself. We also brought several other snacks that I did have to feed him one at a time and that helped to switch things up a bit. It was fun to practice our “please” and “thank you” too!
Bring a new toy
We didn’t buy a new toy for this trip, but we were blessed to have our friends sneak a couple toys into their car before they let us borrow it! Carter was thrilled to have a couple new things to play with and they kept him entertained for 20-40 minutes at a time. On the way back from our trip, Carter happened to grab my brand new make-up brush out of our toiletries bag that morning and he held onto that thing almost the entire 8 hour drive! If your struggling to keep your child entertained and they’re refusing their toys, try to give the something they don’t normally play with like a make-up brush, a toothbrush, a comb, etc.
Play music and encourage dancing
Another activity that we like to do in the car is turn up the music and dance! This gets Carter giggling and showing off his moves and it helps a sleepy driver too. We didn’t have our own music for this trip, so we had fun trying out the radio and making fun of it. We haven’t listened to the radio for years!
Stop every two hours for 20-60 minutes
We stopped almost every two hours and we tried to stop for at least 20 minutes each time. We had to stop for things like gas, food, and a bathroom break anyways so it was nice to extend the stop a little and let Carter get his energy out. For short stops we’d find grass and let Carter run around and encourage him to jump, run, and stretch before buckling him in his carseat again.
For longer breaks where we’d get food, we’d try to find a place to eat outside so Carter could run around and play while we ate. We could feed Carter in the car so we weren’t adamant about him eating while we were stopped. He really enjoys rocks and dirt, but those don’t require a lot of movement, so we ended up playing chasing games and things like “Ring Around the Rosie” with him to get him moving. More often then not, he would end up taking a nice long nap after our long stops.
We surprised ourselves and only ended up watching less than 2 hours of shows during our 15+ hour drive! Instead of turning the show on every time we were in the car, we only played it as a last resort when there was nothing else to keep him occupied. This was usually the last 30 minutes until we reached our destination, but we’re very glad we had the shows on hand for when they were needed!
Have him wear older clothes you don’t mind getting dirty
Growing up I always looked forward to wearing my pjs on long road trips so I had an excuse to wear them all day, but now I realize my mom encouraged it so we wouldn’t ruin our good clothes! If we had plans to get out at certain spots where we’d be in public or to explore or maybe even take pictures, I had Carter wear a nicer shirt underneath an older shirt that we didn’t mind getting dirty. I would just take off the top shirt as we got out of the car and put it right back on before buckling him up. This worked very well for us and I plan on doing it again for future trips!