Over the 4th of July, my husband and I are planning a 13 hour road trip to Colorado which actually equates to 2 days of traveling in the car with our 2.5 year old. We could fly but we opted to drive so we can make some stops along the way to see family and have the luxury of bringing as much stuff as we want! So, I have been doing some reading online lately about how to survive such a long car trip with a toddler and wanted to share some tips with you.
- Get some exercise before you get in the car. While the hubby is doing some last minute packing and prep, I will be taking Murray outside to run and exercise before I put his little body in a car seat for several hours. We also plan to stop at rest stops hopefully with some green space and playgrounds along the way hopefully every 2-3 hours or so to let him run around for 15-20 minutes.
- Have planned meal times and surprise snack bags. If your child doesn’t need help with eating, you can offer meals in the car to help pass the time. This way when you do stop, the time can be used to exercise vs eat. You can also create surprise snack bags with themes and games in each “surprise bag”. This may help keep them entertained for awhile! And it’s much healthier than eating fast food along the way. We plan to bring a cooler full of healthy snacks.
- Recreate the “nap environment”. To get that pristine 2-3 hour break while they sleep, make sure they have emptied their bladder, got some good exercise in and then maybe you try to create shade with a “tent” and play some soft lullaby music. We always read 3 books before tucking our son in for his naps and sing a few songs. And we will be sure not to forget his puppy and blankie!
- Family car games if they are old enough like: The Alphabet Game, Would You Rather?, I Spy, Road Trip Bingo, License Plate Game, etc.
- Create a map with land marks on it so they can see the progress you’ve made and use this time to educate them on reading a map (age appropriate of course).
- Audio is Key: Keep the music coming and have dance parties in the car! I like to play the sound tracks to his favorite movies – Moana, Frozen, etc. and we just belt it out and sing together.
- If you choose to allow your child to use an electronic device on the road, I would recommend setting time limits and using a timer to prompt them to stop watching the shows. You can also find educational videos and games online that you can download ahead of time to work on shapes, numbers, colors, etc. And I would encourage parents to sit along side your child when they are on electronic devices to help them understand what they are watching.
- Last but not least, I can’t complete a blog post without discussing safety! Did you know that 75% of car seats are installed incorrectly? Did you also know that your pre-teen should still be in a booster seat sitting in the back of the car until they are 4 foot 9 and 13 years old? Please visit this website to learn more safety tips for traveling with children. Road trips can be fun but remember you have precious cargo in the back seat. https://www.safekids.org/ You can also get your car seats checked at your local fire department prior to travel to make sure they are installed properly.
Have a fun and safe summer!!