Traveling with kids can make you want to pull your hair out. Am I right? But for some of us (raises hand) holiday traveling is pretty much unavoidable.
This thanksgiving will be Baby H’s first serious road trip. Having both a baby and a toddler in the car for 14 hours should be interesting.
My view of road trips has changed a lot since having kids. Gone are the days of making the 700+ mile drive from my parent’s to my in-laws with only one stop. Now it’s stop to change a diaper, stop to stretch little legs, stop to nurse the baby… You get the idea.
Now we’re traveling little-people style!
Here are a few of the things that work for us when we hit the road for a long drive. Most of them are pretty basic, but who knows? Maybe there will be a thing or two here to add to your repertoire!
Traveling With Kids
- Start with a sleepy baby. In a perfect world, any time time we get in the car, baby H, who is now four months old, has been well fed, and has played for a while before she goes into her cars seat. That way she can bat at her toys for half and hour or so before drifting off to sleep.
- Nurse in place. Say what? You heard me. It’s not that hard once you get the hang of it. It involves mom sitting next to the rear-facing car seat and leaning over. Everybody stays strapped in. This is a life saver when the baby’s otherwise inconsolable, and there’s no where to stop.
- Change up the toys. We hang toys from the car seat handle by plastic chain links. Baby stays happy much longer if you change them up periodically. It helps if the toys are drastically different too.
- Etch-a-sketch. We found one at a dollar store, and it’s definitely a cheapie, but it’s a sanity saver. No pencils lost all over the truck, no scraps of paper everywhere, no crayon wax or marker on everything. Yeah, etch-a-sketch is the way to go.
- Books. We’ve got several books Garrett enjoys looking at. Usborne’s 1,001 things to see is pretty awesome for a very wide age range – I even find myself searching pictures to find all ten scarves.
- Snacks. Finger foods, yes, but preferably food that takes a while to eat and isn’t messy. Like carrot sticks. Calorie-dense food isn’t really a good idea for the sole reason that kids eat it, get full, and then get back to being bored – or they over eat.
- Audiobooks. Garrett loves being read to, and Even at two-years-old, he’ll listen to an audiobook – if he’s being still enough, and when he’s in the car seat, what choice does he have? I recommend scouring your local library for good, child-friendly audiobooks to listen to on your travels.
- iPod/mp3 player. If the children’s audiobooks drive you crazy, (I don’t know about you, but I can only take so many rounds of Jonathan Park) try giving him the iPod. Garrett loves sticking earbuds in his ears, and will sit quietly listening to music or stories for a long time with them. Probably mostly because it’s different and special.
- Sing together. Just before Garrett went down for his nap this afternoon, he was in the living playing with tubby toys, and singing Yesu Azali Awa. It was horribly out of tune, but I love hearing his little voice, and I’m so happy that he loves to sing! What better way to cultivate that love than to put on some good music and sing to it on a long drive over empty highway?
For older kids
- This year, we may have my twelve-year-old brother traveling with us. The great thing about that age, is that they’re old enough to take responsibility for themselves. He knows the trip is going to take 12-14 hours, so he can pack his drawing things, small toys, books – whatever. The only thing I need to worry about is feeding him – although he’s pretty good at doing that too.
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