Almost two years ago I ventured across the wide state of North Carolina with my then-2-year-old by myself. It was my first solo road trip with a toddler and I had no idea what to expect. Luckily I was somewhat prepared and the trip was so great. (And we got in some excellent beach time, which I really needed at that time!) I did a pretty extensive roundup of tips I had from that trip, including restaurants I will most likely avoid. Here are 5 tips for traveling with toddlers as you pile the kids into the car for a summer road trip!
1. Schedule your drive around naps. If your child naps well in the car, try to be sure you’re driving during naptime and not scheduling breakfast/lunch/dinner stops so far from your normal eating time. My son will sleep hours in the car, as long as we’re moving. (So this also means that I don’t drink much because I don’t want to make any unnecessary stops!)
2. Bring along a small basket of toys. We have several books that are interactive and play songs/talk to our boy. He loves these, and will play with a book for 30 minutes or longer at a time.
3. Have a tablet? Load it with a few episodes of your child’s favorite PBS show. At that time I purchased several episodes of Sesame Street. These days I will download Super Why or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Whatever gives me 25-45 minutes of drive time. I’ve also purchased a few fun (and educational) apps for my son to play on the iPad. He doesn’t get the iPad every day at home, so in the car I’m not so worried about him having it too long.
4. Plan your stops around play areas. Yes, some play areas are less than stellar. We love to stop at Chick-fil-a because they always had changing tables, and they have a great (CLEAN!) play area! They really cater to parents (and I’m not being paid to sing their praises.) I noticed early on that other fast food chains never had changing tables, and I still avoid them, even though my son is potty trained.
5. Keep your child’s favorite snacks on hand. Chex Mix, goldfish, cereal. Pack those things in snack containers so they’re easy to access and your child can enjoy them.
We’re heading on our first flight with a soon-to-be 4-year-old this summer. What are your tips for flying with kids? And what are your tips for driving with young children, if I happened to miss something?
Jaime is a wife, mom, runner, cat-mom and blogs at lovejaime.com. By day she works as a director of Online Presence at Mars Hill University. By night she is a blogger and super multitasker. She loves crafting, running, and all things Asheville (the city she calls home.)