We are going away at the end of this week on a long weekend mini-vacation- 3 or 4 days. I am so looking forward to it. We are bringing along the grandparents, so I’m hoping the hubby and I can enjoy a relaxing meal here and there during the trip. Maybe even a romantic trip to the spa- couples style. Anyway, I’m also excited to showing the baby all kinds of new places & activities in a new town. We’ll be going to a zoo, a hike-able park, and all kinds of shopping places. Let’s face it- a toddler is entertained by anything bright and colorful and new!
Anyway, I thought that since I will be trying to engineer the car portion of this trip to be easy on the baby I would write out some tips that have helped in the past. Our trip will be under 2 hours, but when you’ve got a fussy baby in the back seat, that could seem like an eternity. Here’s how I am planning on making it memorable – in a good way!
Tips for travel with a toddler
- Try to maintain the same sleep schedule. Avoid waking the baby up earlier than usual in the morning. If you are driving somewhere, try to wait until the baby’s natural wake time and leave then. Of course, if you are flying somewhere, then you cannot risk missing the plane and you will have to wake up baby. Throughout the day, try to give baby an opportunity to nap during her regularly scheduled naps. If you are out and about, try to find a quiet corner and shush and rock the stroller to help her sleep. If you are near the hotel, put her in the hotel-provided crib, shut the lights, turn on the bathroom fan for white noise, and let her sleep. A tired baby is often a cranky baby. Avoid toddler meltdowns by respecting naptime!
- A long, monotonous car ride can be extremely boring for a young toddler. There is nowhere to go, nothing to explore, and usually nobody to see. Turn that all around. Bring special dedicated small toys that you can offer to the baby during the car ride. When she tosses something aside from boredom, offer her another new toy from the bag of toys you have stashed in the front seat with you. This of course assumes you are the passenger and someone else is driving. Never get distracted with the baby if you are the driver.
- Bring plenty of snacks for the little one- preferably salty, sweet, sour, crunchy, chewy, etc. Here variety is key to keeping the little one entertained. We will bring goldfish crackers, graham crackers, cheerios, yogurt melts, squeezable baby food pouches, and a few other portable snacks. Also have a few different beverage options- milk, water, juice, etc.
- If there are 2 adults in the car, consider having one sit in the backseat with the baby. The human interaction, talking, and play time surely will keep her engaged longer than if she sits alone in the backseat.
- If possible, take plenty of rest stops along the way. Let the toddler run around to burn some energy and work off some steam. This way, when it’s time to get back in the car, the baby will be a bit more tired and apt to rest a bit.
Travelling with a toddler can be challenging, but it can also be fun. Be prepared, stock up on snacks & toys, and plan plenty of rest stops.