Today, a friend told me that she is traveling 15+ hours by car for Thanksgiving with her 2 YEAR OLD. Since we travel often (6 car trips in the last 12 mo of 4-15 hours!) she asked for tips.
I included my top 5.
Disclaimer: these are things that work/don’t work for us. There are a plethora of ideas on Pinterest.
1.Do bring electronic entertainment, but don’t use it right away .
I love electronics for travel. The day the kid will watch the iPad is the day traveling to grandma’s got 80% easier. However, don’t give it until you absolutely have to (kid is about to lose her mind!) because once you give it, it will take an act of God to get it back. Also, don’t forget the car charger and headphones! Ten hours of Sponge Bob is enough to make an adult snap (it’s not pretty!) In an ideal world each child would have his own device, however since we don’t live in utopia, Walmart and Target both sell an IPad case that straps to the back of a head rest for $15. This also helps if you want to control what they watch.
2. Don’t bring crayons, but do bring a couple of a favorite toy.
Crayons seem like a good idea. If your child is perfect, then maybe bringing crayons will work for you. In my experience, they become weapons to be slung at me or a sibling when the inevitable tantrum ensues. They are apparently quite slippery and get dropped frequently causing extreme frustration. As a final thought, one WILL get dropped behind the car seat and melt into your leather minivan seats. True. Story.
3. Do bring food individually portioned, but don’t bring all junk food.
We always travel with a cooler and snack bag. Our best trips are when all the snack are in individual portions, so that you can hand the child a little bag of snacks. We all have different interpretations of the words “junk food.” As the parent, you know what foods work for your family. Stick to them.
4. Don’t drive for more than 3-4 hours (unless they are asleep), and do plan to let them run for a while (15-30min) when you stop.
I have noticed that until age 5 my kids CANNOT sit in their car seats for more than 4 hours! So just plan to stop. In order to save time we will eat in the car and then let the kids run around while we get gas, etc. I have been dropped off at many Chikfila stores with the kids while Hubby gases up. Depending on the amount of time you have, a thirty minute break is awesome, but even fifteen minutes helps and is worth putting shoes back on or even the coats. Sanity is worth the extra time!
5. Do attempt to enforce sleep schedules (nap/bedtime), but don’t panic if you get off schedule.
Of course this assumes, you are on a schedule. We do our best to maintain the nap time and bed time. We have the required blankets, oils, etc. Kids are flexible so obviously it’s not a crisis if they miss a nap or go to bed late, but it is worth the effort for a few hours of peace and quiet.
Bonus: Don’t forget they are kids: they will cry, tantrum, scream. DO BRING YOURSELF HEADPHONES and crank up your music!