Road Trips Without Tears for Toddlers

14 Jul

Eli enjoying his first convertible ride.


Since we live far away from both sides of our family road trips are a common occurrence in our family.  They radically changed with the birth of our son Elijah.  Boy does it sure take longer traveling with a baby or toddler!  We have learned in a short time that being organized is the key to a happy road trip.  Along with a lot of prayer of course! 

  1. Bring some Good Books and Toys: I have a small bag that I pack with toys, books, and other quiet interesting things.  It is helpful to pack this bag a few days before the trip as it adds to the excitement when the toy is pulled out to play with if it has not been seen for a few days.  Throughout the trip I try to ration the toys meaning I do not let Eli have all of the toys in the first 30 minutes of the trip. 
  2. Pack a Great Cooler and Snacks: Not only will this save you lots of money but your child can eat familiar foods.  No upset tummies to worry about and it saves time not having to stop.  We enjoy taking the following for Eli on long trips: Milk, Blueberries, Cheese Slices, Frozen Peas, Kefir, Hard-Boiled Eggs, Pancakes, Fruit, and Dates.  These are all nourishing foods that will not make his belly upset on a long trip as fast food would do.
  3. Set Realistic Expectations and Stop Often: In order to keep your toddler happy you should plan on stopping every 2-3 hours.  We have found stopping at a park or elementary school for just 10 minutes to make all the difference in the world.  Eli has a chance to run around and burn off some energy while we get a breather as well.  It would be a good idea to make note of some good stops along your route before you take off.  Elementary schools are a great stop during the summer.  🙂  We usually just had Eli play for 10 minutes, changed his diaper, and then fed him while in the car.  This made a huge difference! 
  4. Pack a Car Box: We keep a box in our van that include all the things that might be needed in case of an accident or emergency.   Our box includes: plastic bags, Ziploc bags, Lysol Wipes, Tissues, Baby Wipes, Hand Sanitizer, Lotion, and a First Aid Kit.  I don’t know how many times I have reached for something in that box! 
  5. Pack a Medicine Box: Murphy’s Law always seems to happen on a trip.  By taking along a medicine box you are prepared for the unexpected.  On our last road trip Eli ended up with a high fever.  I was very thankful to have a thermometer and infant tylenol with us.  I could also find it at a moments notice rather than try to hunt down a Walmart along thew ay.  You could include all of these items in your car box but we found it easier to put them in a smaller box in case we needed to bring them inside during our stay (which we did).  These included: bandages, neosporin, infant tylenol, gas drops for little babies, shampoo/conditioner, Tylenol, Sunscreen, Thermometer, Vitamins, Diaper Rash Cream, cough drops, allergy medicine, and Teething Medicine.
  6. Pack Wisely: I keep a master list on my computer of items that are usually packed for our trips.  This helps me so much!  I also like to pack backwards meaning if we were going on a trip Mon-Thurs. then I would first pack Thursday’s outfit, then Wednesday’s etc.  Pajamas go on top.  This way the day’s outfit is always the one on top!  Think about your destination place.  You may want to take along some additional items such as: bubbles, sidewalk chalk, a ball, etc. for your child to play with while there.  Also a travel high chair might be very helpful.  I also take along a small amount of detergent.  If given the opportunity I always do our laundry.  One less thing to do when we get home! 

Happy traveling!  Where is everyone traveling this summer?  Any great tips for taking toddlers on long trips?

2 Responses to “Road Trips Without Tears for Toddlers”

  1. Sarah S. August 5, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

    I’m thinking about this as we plan to leave tomorrow for a 3-day trip to MO. It’s about a 5-hr drive, so I’m a little nervous about our youngest, who is almost 14 months. She has not been as easy to travel with as our oldest, or maybe it’s just the age. Our oldest does really well now and when naptime for her rolls around, she naturally falls asleep. She is usually very content to sit in her car seat and listen to the music, look at books, or color. But Katie, well….books work well, but we have to keep ’em coming because once she’s done with one–toss it…WHINE. Thanks for this post. I’m going to try some of your ideas. I think the hotel we are staying at has a mini fridge. I’m wondering do you have suggestions for packing milk? I think I may need a bigger cooler and more ice packs. Oh, and you mentioned frozen peas…good idea. You just throw them in, as is, I’m assuming?

    • emersonfamily August 6, 2011 at 1:22 am #

      Hope that you have a great trip. As for the milk. I do usually pack it in a cooler and fill it with actual ice for a long trip. I think real ice actually keeps things colder for some reason. It might be a little messy but the milk stays coler this way. Sometimes I pack other things in plastic baggies and lay them right on top. That way they aren’t quite so soaked. I take the bag or 1/2 a bag of frozen peas in the cooler but make sure to remember to bring a small container to put a few in at a time. Then I hand those to the little guy.

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