Road trips are hard enough without two restless toddlers in your back-seat. If you're a road-trip rookie, here are some tips to help you survive road-trips, even all day marathons:
1. Pack healthy snacks.
Get a few ice packs and a small cooler and fill it with things like clementines (which help with dehydration), cheese, grapes, apple slices, raisins, nuts, etc. Your kids will feel better if they aren’t snacking on cookies and Goldfish all day.
2. If the kids are happy, don’t interrupt.
Most kids ride in the car a lot every day, so they’re used to it. Don’t pull the crayons out in the first five minutes. Wait until your kids need them, hopefully an hour or more into the drive. You’ll be happy you saved your stash.
3. Find a way to let them watch TV.
Yes, it’s true that the American Academy of Pediatrics just tightened up their recommended daily allowance of TV, but one day is a different story. Entertaining toddlers in the car for 12 hours is an exhausting job, and if you can get a thirty minute break occasionally, take it! Your patience will last much longer if you do. Download episodes for your iPad or iPhone and find some headphones that are comfortable. Have your child try them on before the trip begins. Make sure to force the kids to take TV breaks, but don’t be a martyr. TV is the road-trip parent’s best friend.
4. Bring plenty of things to do.
Keep everything in a bag and try to bring out something new every few hours. No matter what you choose, make sure you think about how it will work in the car. Are there small pieces that can get lost? You don’t want to be fishing around the car every five minutes for lost pieces. Is there a potential for frustration if it’s something new for your child? A few things that are excellent for road-trips are:
- Printed-out coloring sheets
- Lots of stickers. Not only will they keep your kids busy, but they are excellent for fine motor development
- New coloring books, never seen before by your children
- New crayons, stored in Zip-loc baggies for each child
- Lacing cards for children 3 and older (these can be purchased online and from some local craft stores and are also excellent for fine motor development)
- New books they’ve never read before
5. Bring clip-boards.
You can pick up clip-boards at an office supply store for only a couple bucks. These will come in very handy for stickers, coloring, etc.
6. Find water bottles that won’t spill.
You can’t rely on the cups from McDonald’s with a two-year-old. If he squeezes too hard and the cups breaks, he will spill on himself and nothing is worse in the car than a wet, unhappy two-year-old. Pour the drinks you buy into their no-spill cups with lids.
7. Wrap some presents for when things get really bad.
Go to the Dollar Store or Wal-Mart and find a few cheap toys that they’ve never seen before. Wrap them with special wrapping paper and keep them stored for when the kids are about to lose it. They will love unwrapping presents in the car and it will make the novelty of the toy last even longer. A few good toys are the Hide N Squeak Eggs found on Amazon or the Crocodile Dentist Game, also found on Amazon. Even books can be fun when they have to be unwrapped by your child.
8. Stop as little as possible.
If the kids are happy, keep driving! This is important because when you do stop, it will likely be longer than you want, so it’s important to keep moving if possible.
9. Pack plenty of extras.
You can never have too many Zip-loc bags of various sizes, Wet Ones, paper towels, and hand sanitizer. You never know what you’re going to find at the gas stations.
10. Be prepared for a long day!
The road trip will likely be long, no matter what you do. Bring some soothing music and your favorite book for those rare moments when the kids are content.
Katie Norris is the co-author of The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble and Motivated to Learn.
Image Source: iStock Photo
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.