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Today I’m welcoming guest authors, AJ Ratani and Natasha Sandhir from The 2 Idiots Travel Blog. They’re sharing their favorite tips for embarking on car trips with toddlers.
How to Survive a Long Road Trip with a Toddler
When we spent our year traveling with our son, most of our travels were spent in a car, including long drives around Iceland, traveling through Patagonia, and exploring Southern Spain. What did we learn? Boredom leads to tantrums when traveling with kids. And, what could be worse for a child than being strapped into a car seat for hours in a car? Being the parents of the child who is throwing a tantrum in a car. Here are five tips for traveling with toddlers that we learned the hard way on our around the world journey:
Plan Your Route with Multiple Stops to Break up Long Drives with Toddlers
Find small attractions, or even just a rest stop where kids can take a break from the car and let out some energy. If your first and last destination is three to five hours away, find stops along the way and limit driving time to 2 hours. For kids, 2 hours seems like a lifetime; although extra stops will make your trip longer, you’ll uncover surprising attractions and make some memories.
Pack Toys and Snacks for Your Road Trip
Pack toys and activities that will keep your toddler’s attention diverted and give you a little more quiet time while driving in the car. We used to pack our son’s favorite books, like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and toys he could play with on his own, like a mini-magnetic drawing pad, so we didn’t have to play with him from the front seat. Be sure to pack some of your kid’s favorites snacks as well just incase he gets hungry in the middle of your road trip. As with toys, we prefer snacks that he could have without us having to feed him (such as Goldfish or chips).
Plan Your Driving Time with Your Toddler around Nap Times
If you’re driving when your child normally takes a morning or afternoon nap, or even driving in the evening when they sleep, it will help eliminate the, “are we there yets.” We encountered many families who uncovered the secret: driving around 8 p.m. because it was our son’s bedtime and we still had energy to push on. Be sure to have blankets, pillows and comforts your tot is used to at home to help inspire bedtime in the car.
Break out the Music, Videos and Electronics
When the going gets tough, sometimes you just have to help your kid focus on something other than being stuck in a car. Our child loves Bollywood tunes, so we used to start each road trip with his favorite songs. If that didn’t work, we we would bring out the big guns such as the Kindle or the iPad. There’s no shame in it; we have all been desperate! Download videos or apps onto your devices that can be used in case of emergency. For us, we prefer to download educational and informational apps and skip the mindless videos. A word of caution, though. If the road is bumpy, watching videos can make your little guy sick, so save these for smooth rides.
Go Big or Go Home
When renting a car for your trip, splurge on the SUV upgrade so you can have more space and room to breathe, as well as room for luggage and gear. (SUVs also provide a smoother ride for those aforementioned car-sickness moments). Confined spaces when traveling can feel constraining for your child. Give him or her a bit more freedom with extra space, which also gives you extra space for more gear, surprises and snacks.
Just remember when embarking on a road trip with a toddler – that they haven’t yet learned to be patient in a car. Just as you get stir crazy and need breaks, so does your child, just at shorter intervals. Follow these tips for surviving a road trip with a toddler, and the entire family will all enjoy a smoother ride.
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AJ Ratani and Natasha Sandhir traveled around the world with their son Aarav. Visiting 31 countries and six continents as a family, they documented their year-long travel and trips on their family travel blog. Visit their website for more tips and also follow the couple on their Instagram account.