It’s summer, so let the good times roll. And by roll, I mean on four wheels along the nation’s highways to grandma’s house, the beach, the amusement park or wherever your summer road trip takes you.
If you are rolling with a toddler this summer, then you know the importance of being prepared. If this is your first long journey with your little one, then consider the following road trip survival tips that have served me well over the years:
When traveling with toddlers, never underestimate the power of distractions. Plan on packing plenty of toys and introduce them to your child one at a time. The toys don’t need to be new or expensive, just different.
If you have a toddler, then you know how vital it is to be as organized as possible. I am not suggesting that you plan your trip down to the millisecond; rather I am merely suggesting adhering to your child’s daily routine as much as possible. For example, it pays to follow your normal routine as much as you can on the road in terms of meal times and sleeping times.
Another organization tip: Fuel up before your child’s nap. My brother did not plan ahead on a recent road trip and had to stop the car to refuel. As soon as he pulled into the service station his 19-month-old son woke up and cried for the next 20 minutes. Lesson learned. Save the pit stops for when the kids are awake rather than risk waking them up for your 11-year-old to go potty or for you to grab a snack.
Avoid planning long car trips around the driver’s schedule. For example, if you are planning to make a 6-hour car trip to grandma’s house, you may be tempted to leave first thing in the morning while you are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. However, morning is the worst time of the day to leave if you are traveling with an active toddler. Instead, spend the morning having your child run off steam in preparation for the journey. Most toddlers take one long afternoon nap so take advantage of this fact.