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Filed under: Kid-Friendly Trips

Roadtrippin’ with a Toddler…

June 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

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There are a few things you can do that can make a trip with a toddler more enjoyable – here are my tips (and I would love to hear yours!)… Everything from Traveling with Baby applies here too, with a few additions.

Clothing: Dress for comfort. And don’t over dress – it’s easier to cover them if they are chilly than to have to pull off the road to unbuckle and undress. I always try to bring a hat – which kind depends on the weather; if it’s hot, choose a sunhat – if it is chilly, bring a warm winter hat. If it is cool out, I also throw in a pair of gloves; little fingers get chilled quickly. If we will arrive within a few hours of bedtime, I try to change them into PJs before they fall asleep in the car; if I’m lucky, I can transfer them to their bed in the hotel or rv without waking them! Always pack prepared for a breakdown or delay.

Food: This is where those fun individual portions come in handy (or you can make your own using snack size zipper bags)! And if your toddlers are like mine, they love to have little packages just their size! We like to pack juice boxes (once they have learned not to squeeze them), animal crackers, pretzels, grapes (quartered), string cheese, and raisins. Think of clean-up factor when choosing foods for the car. And don’t forget plain bottled water – too many snacks along with juice or sugary drinks can make for an upset tummy, especially when mixed with a curvy road and/or scenery flying by.

Toys: Toddlers LOVE new toys! If you are just in the planning stage for a trip, consider starting a stash of ‘new’ toys – these can be anything from kid’s meal toys to clearance items to Goodwill finds that you set aside just for time on the road. Save pulling them out until your little one is starting to get fidgety, then surprise them with a new plaything out without letting them see/know if you have more. Don’t forget to pack any Loveys or favorites that they find comfort in. We try to choose toys that do not make a lot of noise, and that are engaging, yet we also encourage our little ones to look outside at the scenery; sometimes car sickness is brought on by lack of looking up and around.

Activities: Traveling with a toddler can be so much fun!!! They are getting much more involved in their surroundings than when they were infants, and interaction with them is taken to a whole new intellectual level! Toddlers love to play games; they love to find “Where’s the (tree, plane, cow…)” or just have you point out interesting items as you travel. My kiddos are always tickled to see any kind of animal! If you are traveling in the dark, or where there is really nothing of interest, try asking them to point out body parts as you name them (faces and arms are easiest in the carseat!), or ask them to tell you animal sounds (“what does a pig say?”). Many older toddlers like to color, so consider a small pad of paper and colored pencils or crayons (but obviously not a good idea if yours eats them!).

Music: toddlers LOVE music! Take along a favorite music cd, or purchase a new one that you think that they might like. Keep in mind that most toddlers love repetition, and you will probably get requests to’ listen again’ before the cd is even over. Be forewarned though, that this is not a good activity for your trip if having ‘Old McDonald Has a Farm’ or ‘Down by the Bay’ running through your head for the next few hours is going to make you irritable. ;)

I love traveling with a toddler! While they can, at times, be fidgety or fussy because they are tired of being in their car seats, I love that they are becoming so much more involved in their surroundings. It is fun to interact with them while we are driving (tho I will say that the fact that they still take naps can be a welcome break too!).   Oh, and don’t forget to use nap time to your advantage; sleeping is a great time to travel, but letting them sleep for hours in the car, right before bedtime, could be disasterous to your getting some shut-eye!

I am sure that there are other tips that make for great journeys with a toddler a joy ride; the biggest tip that I can think of is:

Don’t be so intent on getting to your destination that you miss the journey.  The drive itself can be half the fun; if you let it.

I’m always game for fresh ideas on how to make roadtripping with my littlest ones more fun; I would love it if you would share any tips that you have too!

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