There is something special about creating memories not just at home, but in new cities. I love to travel and want my kids to grow up appreciating the sights, sounds, people, flavors and overall culture of new cities, both near and far.
I know that even leaving the house can be a daunting thought depending on what stage you and your little ones are in. Though intimidating a first, like many things in life, practice makes perfect. Don’t be afraid to experiment and figure out what works for your family. Every child and every family is different but here are a few tips for surviving road trips with little ones:
Do your research. Know the in’s and outs of your destination and your accommodations. Knowing what to expect can help you to be prepared not only for the trip but for the travel time.
We go to the beach every summer, so I know that I will need to stock up on snacks, sunscreen and entertainment for the car. Thinking ahead allows me not only to be more creative but allows me to shop around and save money by finding the best deal.
Drive Through the Night
We have found that leaving just after our LO’s normal bedtime, donned in her pajamas (and whatever other comfort items accompany your sleeping child) makes for the smoothest and quickest journey. I realize that not all kids are car babies, but by recreating as many of their typical bedtime routines as possible in the car (yes even the sound machine if you have to), hopefully, you can get them sleeping for at least a portion of your trip.
We take our daughter’s cues and when she wakes up, we try to soothe her back to sleep. If that doesn’t work then we stop, change her, feed her and continue on.
The Element of Surprise
We try to stock up on little trinkets, treasures and entertainment for the car ride. Having something new, no matter how small, is exciting and sure to help distract, even if for a short time. The Target Dollar Bins, Dollar General, and Walmart are the perfect places to stock of up on little knick-knacks, coloring books and prizes for your trip. We try to space out the surprises. You can even draw the process out and build up the suspense by wrapping each item individually and having your child unwrap them. It will give everyone something to look forward to and can help pass the waking hours.
Build in Extra Stops
However long Google tells you your travels will take, add more time. Expect your stops to be more frequent and longer than you had expected. It will be a pleasant surprise if you arrive before your predicted time of arrival.
We don’t typically have someone sit in the back with our daughter, but on long road trips, especially when she is awake, it can be helpful. Having someone to keep kids company, easily grab drinks, snacks, toys or even lull them back to sleep is essential. It can be an easy way to keep the littles happy and to minimize meltdowns and unwanted stops.
Having an iPhone or iPad loaded with music or a few favorite movies or episodes can also be a way to pass the time.
Pack a Cooler
We always make sure to pack a cooler of snacks, sandwiches and drinks. Make sure the cooler isn’t buried and is easily accessible. This not only helps us to stay on a budget but prevents unnecessary stops.
Whether your summer road trips takes you someone local or somewhere across the country, I hope that these tips make your travels less stressful.