The holidays are right around the corner! For most people that means vacations and out of town trips to visit family. If you have young kids, the thought of a long car ride or airplane ride is enough to turn you from Buddy the Elf to a bah humbugging Scrooge.
Traveling with young kids doesn’t have to be something you stress over or worse…stop traveling altogether for fear that it will be a nightmare. Here are a few of my tricks and tips to make traveling a little easier on everyone:
Try to plan your drives at night.
I do our nightly routine with my daughter (now 3) but instead of putting her down to bed around her normal bedtime, I put her in the car. I always had luck with her sleeping for the majority of the trip!***Please make sure you are well rested if you choose to drive through the night!
In our house the iPad is a very limited treat.
This has made it a lifesaver when it comes to traveling. I download a favorite cartoon and use an iPad holder that straps around the headrest of the front seat. This prevents her from switching over to other apps or games that we have on the device. When she gets bored of watching shows, she is then allowed to play with the other things we have downloaded for her. Hold off on using the iPad for as long as you can so they don’t get bored with it as your trip is just beginning.
Pack toys that make sense for being in the car.
Toys that are small or ones that have a lot of pieces can be frustrating if they are always being dropped or lost. Books can be great distraction! If your child is a little older, you can get a seat organizer to help keep everything organized and easily within reach.
Try to keep their schedule as normal as possible.
This prevents them from getting hangry and usually leads to naps similar to ones at home.
Eat in the car.
I know that most parents will say that taking frequent stops and letting your child run around works for them but we are the opposite. I try to get meals at places where she can easily eat while I’m driving without making a huge mess. I pack her little cups with lids (to prevent the food from ending up everywhere) and get snacks that she can handle on her own. My daughter is a sllloooowww eater which means that the time it takes her to eat her chicken nuggets, apple slices and other snacks is time that I’m chipping away off our drive. An hour stop adds an hour to our day, but 30 minutes of her eating in the car gets us 30 minutes closer to our destination without meltdowns!
When it comes to car snacks, pack what they love and a few “special” treats.
My daughter loves fruit which means I know she will eat it without putting up a fuss. Sweets, like candy, are rare for her so I toss in a few of those for the moments when I know she is reaching her limit.
I’ve done HOURS in the car listening to the same itsy bitsy spider song. It almost broke me but she was quiet and the car ride was drama free. Now that she can sing along with me, I sing tons of songs that she loves. It keeps her occupied to sing her ABC’s along with me.
If your toddler can talk, ask questions. Lots of them!!
When they are talking, they are distracted. We talk about animals at the zoo, our pets, her favorite toys…whatever keeps the conversation flowing!
These tips and tricks have helped us through many long drives including a few cross country ones! Having a game plan, and a few strategic tricks, turns the stress of travel into fun memories that will last a lifetime and an enjoyable holiday season!