Roadtrip hacks for the holidays (or anytime of year)!
Holiday celebrations typically mean family, friends, and food. It can also bring long car rides with kids in the backseat begging for snacks and rest stops. The younger the child, the more challenging travel can become! However, with a little ingenuity and planning, your holiday road trip can be fun for the whole family. Below are a few suggestions for smooth travels with infants in tow.
Switch up the seating arrangements
If an infant or toddler is alone in the backseat for an extended periods of time, they may become anxious or lonely. If two adults are along for the ride, consider having one adult move to the backseat for some songs, books, or just a little conversation and company.
Plan trips around naptime
You may be able to plan your trip around your baby or toddler’s nap routine. Heading out right around naptime might make for a smoother and quieter road trip, depending on the length of your trip. When a baby wakes up after being in the car seat for an extended length of time, they likely need to get out and move around. For parents who don’t mind driving at night, consider leaving around bedtime and driving in the evening for a late arrival.
One of the most challenging things about planning a road trip with a baby is the logistics of packing your vehicle. With limited trunk space, you may have trouble bringing all the things you need for your trip. Try to pack light, you can purchase more diapers when you get there!
Bring along compact baby necessities, like the Contours Bitsy Compact Stroller or a small pack n’ play that can double as a bed. If your toddler is potty training, try to squeeze in their potty from home to help keep routine as normal possible.
Load up your child’s favorite music for the journey
Make sure to download your child’s favorite music, or kid-friendly podcast before you leave. Music by The Wiggles, Emily Arrow, or your child’s favorite movie soundtrack all make for great musical travel with infants and toddlers. If you have a TV in your car, take a trip to the library and grab some new DVDs, or bring along your child’s favorites to play when they start to get bored or fussy. While it’s definitely convenient to turn over the phone or tablet, remember it can make some kids car sick and too much extended screen time is never good for little ones!
Bring lots of snacks
Regardless of your child’s age, you’ll need frequent stops for meals, potty breaks, or diaper changes. Try to cut down on unnecessary and/or long stops by packing snacks and drinks in a cooler, so that both adults and baby stay well fed and hydrated. Do as much meal preparation in advance as possible; pre-cut fruits and vegetables, make sandwiches, fill multiple bottles of water, and prepare bottles for baby. For young children, eating and drinking while the car is stopped helps reduce the risk of choking, but prepared snacks will mean you don’t stop for as long (and you save money!)
Pack some new toys
Depending on your child’s age, a new age appropriate toy might be just what they need to stay distracted during a road trip. You can prepare a fun surprise bag, like a road trip loot bag, filled with fun craft items, Little People, or even a new stuffed animal to cuddle. Alternatively, you can pack multiple new toys and have your child unwrap an item every hour along the way. To cut down on cost and environmental waste you may want to purchase toys at thrift shops or online second-hand shops.
Be flexible with your schedule
Traveling long distances isn’t easy at the best of times, but with a baby it can be even more of a challenge. If you need a break, stop and take a rest. For longer trips, you may need to plan an overnight rest, for the sanity of both parent and tot. Give yourself lots of time, and expect things not to go exactly as planned.
And, don’t forget: It isn’t an adventure without a few road bumps along the way!
By Brianna Bell, contributing writer and mother of three.