We’re heading to Tennessee today for the weekend to visit some family, and while I love a good road trip as much as the next person, it has definitely taken on a whole new meaning since becoming a mom. Thankfully, baby girl has become a bit of a road warrior with all of the trips we’ve taken her on so far, but if we’re being honest, I still get anxious leading up to a trip with her. As she gets older I know each trip is going to hold it’s own new sets of challenges. But now that we’ve done this a few times I can say we’ve learned a few tricks along the way. Here are my top 9 tips for surviving a road trip with babies and toddlers.
- You can never have enough snacks: save money and your sanity by packing your own snacks. Try and focus on foods that can be left at room temperature to minimize your need for a cooler. Think classics like cheerios, goldfish, raisins, trail mix, and baby food pouches. 9 times out of 10 when my LO is melting down it’s because she’s hangry. What can I say, like mother like daughter?
- Pack plenty of car friendly toys and activities: A few days before our trip I like to set aside a few toys that I know baby girl enjoys that would also work well in the car. This way when we’re on the road she’s extra excited to play with them because she hasn’t had them in a few days. They seem to hold her attention longer than if she’d had them all the time at home. Try to aim for toys that are contained, minimal noise and don’t have small pieces.
- Don’t forget the books: the more interactive the book the better! It still amazes me how long a flipbook can hold my daughter’s attention, but I am definitely not complaining.
- Map out family friendly rest stops prior to your trip: before we leave for a trip I always take a few minutes to look and see where the rest stops are, and try to plan our breaks accordingly. That way I know ahead of time if we need to take advantage of a stop because the next one won’t be for awhile. Try and stop where there’s room to walk around and give your LO plenty of room to stretch out. Don’t forget to pack a blanket to lay out on when you get there.
- Pack some favorite tunes: we’re a Veggies Tales family. And from a pretty early age if baby girl was melting down and some Silly Songs with Larry came on, suddenly all was right in her world. Needless to say, we don’t leave home without some of her favorite songs on standby.
- Pack spares of your absolute essentials: whatever it is that you know you and your LO can’t live without (ie: pacifier, diapers, travel outfit) make sure to bring an extra. Something is bound to happen on your road trip, so the best thing you can do for your LO is be prepared.
- Make sure to pack your baby essentials so they are easily accessible: the last thing you want when your baby has a massive mess going on is to realize your diapers are all the way at the bottom of the luggage mountain in your trunk. Do yourself a favor and make sure everything you need for your LO is easily within reach.
- Give yourself extra time on the road: babies can require frequent stops. Don’t add to your stress level by being crunched for time if you can avoid it. Add in plenty of time for you and your LO to take breaks along the way. That way if you don’t need as much time as you planned for you feel like even more of a winner!
- Have an ace up your sleeve: at some point on your trip, your LO will have the mother of all meltdowns. For us, it tends to always happen about one hour prior to arriving at our destination. You’re tired. Your LO is tired. It’s just the makings of a stressful situation. This is when it helps to have an ace up your sleeve. That one thing you know that will make your LO happy. Whether that’s a particular youtube video on your phone, a favorite song on the car, or a certain toy, whatever it is have it on standby and try and reserve it for only when your baby really needs it. If you use it too often on the trip then it might not have it’s usual saving grace effect on your LO when you really need it. But if used sparingly, then you will hopefully be able to get your LO through the tough portion of the trip.
You’re braving the open road with a baby. It’s stressful. It’s exhausting. But it can be done. Plan ahead. Think through what you really need, and have it where you can get to it. And even though road trips with LOs can be stressful, they also have the makings of really great family adventures. So embrace the craziness, get organized and enjoy your trip! These are what memories are made of.
Have a great holiday weekend everybody!