Long road trips can be exhausting and boring for many people, but especially for younger kids. Not easy for parents either; how many times can we answer “Are we there yet?” without losing our cool?
For small kids times just seems to drag on and they often have no concept of mileage and map.
Toddlers and babies grow uncomfortable quickly during long car rides but that is not to say you shouldn’t take babies and toddlers on road trips or travel far by car with them.
I’m sharing today a few tips I’ve learned while driving long distances with young children.
- Tips for Road Trip With Toddlers and Babies
Tips for Road Trip With Toddlers and Babies
Not only the car needs to be safe and ready to take the trip but travel accessories will improve the kid’s safety and comfort.
If you are traveling with babies on the back seat, a car baby mirror is a must for your piece of mind. It allows you to check what the baby is doing without having to sacrifice your attention on the road.
Some of the best travel systems for toddlers and babies will have the detachable car seat easily connected to strollers and the car support.
Also choose the car seats that recline the most to a sleeping position, we lovethis seat here.
If your child has moved from the bulky car seat and is travelling on the car seat booster not, you will want to have this handy accessoryto make sure the seat belt is in the optimal place for safety and protection.
Check this post for more information about lightweight car seats.
Planning ahead makes all the difference
When going on a road trip as a family you need to keep travel time and safety into account.
Young children may need scheduled feedings, diaper changes and potty breaks along the way.
Before you set off for the journey, make sure that research your route and mark down the places along the way that you could stop for a break.
This will allow both you and your kids to have a break, stretch your legs and get some fresh air.
If your child is napping you can check your travel plans to see if skipping the stop won’t put you too far out from your next destination.
It might be okay to miss a stop here and there depending on how the journey goes, but it is important to pin point in the route places for stop every hour or so.
With very small babies you might have to stop every hour, but with toddlers you might find that you can carry on driving for longer periods. Toddlers can have snacks on the journey and you don’t need to change and feed them as often.
Play on the go
We all take quiet time during road trips, where looking at the window and enjoying the view is all we do. However, the key for any easy trip with kids is to make sure they have entertainment at hand when boredom strikes.
A restless kid or 2 inside a fully packed car is not something so easy to handle, especially if you are driving without another adult hand to help out.
Prepare the entertainment ahead of time. Think about down time toys for them to enjoy alone through the journey. But also think of and group games and entertainment that everyone in the car can enjoy, such as music and family audiobooks.
Below I have a list of some toys and travel accessories that you can take along the trip to help help you all have an easy journey.
A colorful sensory toy is always good for babies.
A good toy to help develop fine motor skills, cognitive skills and hand eye coordination.
Always fun and educational for toddlers.
A very good alternative for normal stickers.
Useful to add your player/tablet for down time film watching or playing with toy pieces.
Here your kid can color on the tray itself.
It is a great travel activity.
Never a dull moment during travels.
Perfect to store the kids’ favorite games, toys, books and snacks.
Stop and Play
At least once a day (or more) stop for a little playtime to get your child’s energy out. A public park picnic, or a playground play stop will help your kid enjoy the rest of the journey more.
So eat at a restaurant with a play space or picnic at a park and let them run around in the grass. They may even take a long nap in the car afterwards!
Late Nights and Early Mornings
By the time you stop to sleep for the night drivers may be exhausted but kids are ready to play!
They’ve been cooped up in the car and probably napping so their energy levels are high.
Keep this in mind and plan for a short walk before bed or other activity to get them calmed down for the night. Follow their usual bedtime routine to help them recognize that it’s time for sleeping.
Rising before the sun to start your day on the road can be helpful if kids will stay asleep when you put them in the car. This will let you get a few hours of driving in before they wake up.
I have always used this technique for when we have a super long car trip for one day. We leave at 1 or 2 am, sharing the driving between my husband and I.
It works every time, even when they grow up and become teenagers. The advantages are obvious: First, you avoid traffic and therefore are able to put the mileages. Second, you don’t have to stop as often for the little kids are they will sleeping.
Bringing just a diaper bag won’t cut it for a long car ride.
Babies and toddlers need enough supplies to last them hours and even days. Plus you don’t know what can happen throughout the journey. It takes a flat tire to make you lose a day of your journey, waiting somewhere remote until you get the assistance you need.
On our road trip through Italy we got stuck in a little village for 3 days with car problems!
Make sure to pack extra in case you get slowed down on the road for whatever reason. And have it ieasily accessible with the use of a travel caddy.
Sitting in traffic waiting for instance for a snow plow without food or diapers is inconvenient and uncomfortable. Plan to bring extra clothes, soft blankets, sippy cups, pre-packaged snacks, toys, and loads of drink! Music and audiobooks for your kids will also help entertain them while you travel.
Traveling with toddlers and babies doesn’t have to be stressful. Just pack smartly and plan ahead for your family road trip and you will all have a blast!