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In a few short weeks, we are taking a road trip and heading down to NC for a weeklong beach vacation. While this vacation is much anticipated and needed, I’m low-key freaking out about how Cameron will be in the car. Obviously, we are making a few stops along the way but still that long of a car ride with a contained toddler is just asking for meltdowns. We are planning to leave EARLY Sunday morning (like 4AM early). This way Cam can sleep for a bulk of the trip.
When Cameron and I went to visit family in NC earlier this year, I did two posts on how to prep to travel and actually traveling with a toddler. So to prepare myself (and my husband) for this trip, I’ve scoured the internet looking up all types of hacks/tips and advice specific for road tripping.
Below are some of the TOP TIPS that I’ve found and will be personally trying out on our road trip in a few weeks.
Timing is Everything
Almost every article that I read mentioned timing. Every parent knows how important timing is…naps and sleep schedules are gospel. The best thing you can do for yourself, your spouse & the children is to try and time a bulk of your driving while they are sleeping.
Early morning or bedtime is obviously the best, but that’s not always possible and if not, try and do during a nap time. We’re planning on leaving super early in the morning in the hopes that Cam will go back to sleep relatively quickly in the car & sleep a majority of the morning.
Snacks Reign Supreme
Anyone else have a toddler that could live off snacks alone?! If Cameron had his way, that is all he would eat. The next most mentioned tip is to have a variety of snacks/drinks on hand at all times. Pack a small(ish) cooler with items that need to stay cool, like milk, cheeses, fruit, etc. A fed baby is a happy baby.
Entertainment is KEY
Who in the world would want to be stuck in the car with legit nothing to do/read/watch? This was pretty high up on any list I read up on. It was always in my game plan to make sure to have a ton of activities for Cam. Seriously, I started to stock up on stuff back in like June.
Stocking up on Cameron’s favorite like the Crayola Color Wonder system was high on my list of things to do. He’s also been into painting lately, so adding a few of these Melissa and Doug Paint with Water sets was a must. These are great for travel because you just have to fill up the paintbrush with some water and he’s good to go.
With all these activities to do, a lapdesk was in need. It has a tablet holder, cup holder, and extra side pockets. The table part is even a white board that he can use dry erase markers on. I am going to split the table in half and do like a little road scene or something so he can play with his cars on that as well. I’ll make sure to post it on Instagram so make sure to follow us for updates!
Being in the car for long periods of time can make children anxious or fidgety. Cameron just started getting into these Pop-It things, but so far he LOVES them. Since we are heading to the beach, I thought this ocean themed 3 pack was perfect!
Technology is your Friend
Traveling in the car for an hour or more, a tablet is a MUST. We gave Cameron my old iPad earlier this year and he has only had access to it two or three times because he gets so crazy with it. Tablets are a great tool because you can fill it with so many things like educational apps (that are more game-like), games, and apps like Disney+ or Paramount.
If the iPad is out of your budget or you honestly don’t trust your toddler with an $800+ piece of equipment you can always go with the Amazon Kids Fire Tablet. This pretty much can do anything the iPad can do, so it’s a great alternative. This goes without saying but gonna say it anyway, make sure ALL devices are completely, 100% charged before you leave! You might want to invest in a portable charge bank to help charge any of your devices on the go.
Play Some Games!
Some of my favorite memories are playing games in the car with my parents. The one that comes to mind most often is the license plate game. Back in the day someone would keep track of all the different states we saw, now there’s all these new fancy games and I’m sure even an app to track! iSpy is also a great game to get them involved in their surroundings.
I’ve also picked up this Roadside/Vehicle Bingo Travel Set, it’s a dry erase set so he can wipe it off and start again. It has 3 different ones, a vehicle, road sign & things you see versions. Try and make it as fun as possible by handing out prizes.
Let’s Get Comfortable!
Make them as comfortable as possible. Again, sitting in a car sucks, but sitting in a car seat where you are restrained/constricted is awful. Try out this awesome neck pillow to help them keep their heads up when/if they happen to fall asleep. It comes in a few sizes and multiple colors for various ages.
Don’t forget the portable potty! This OXO Tot 2-in-1 Go Potty is the TOP rated travel potty. We’re not exactly there yet so this is won’t be on our list but friends of ours who have 3 kids don’t leave home without their travel potty in the car.
A lot of articles I read also suggested to map out your route and pre-plan some stops. Stopping at regular intervals will help with a few things. First, parents can switch it up and split the driving and entertaining the kids. Second, it can help for everyone to stretch their legs. Third, makes quick work of changing diapers/clothes and potty breaks.
Final Game Plan
Road tripping is guaranteed to be a long process, you have to start prepping days or even weeks in advance. One of the things that helps is by making sure you have everything packed. Nothing is more stressful than starting off a trip rummaging through bags to see if you’ve packed something. I’ve created an easy, editable PDF printable packing list for you to download for FREE! Check it out below.
Any of these ideas/tips are super helpful in making your trip as uneventful and memorable as possible. Just remember that the craziness will pass and in its place will be a beautiful memory with your family.