Nothing puts a damper on a trip like cranky kids. You can’t blame them — think about being stuck in a seat for hours at the mercy of whatever entertainment your parents remembered to bring. There are only so many exciting cow/tree/cloud scenes a child can look at before they go a little crazy.
On the other hand, safety is more important than having a good time. Really, nothing is going to ruin a trip faster than being unprepared for a major or minor mishap.
We travel with our daughter quite a bit — both in the car and via airplane. As I write this, we’re in Colorado after a two-day road trip (and an accidental three-hour detour). I have to say, we’ve gotten traveling with her down. Without siblings to keep her entertained (or yes, to bicker with), we have to be creative when finding ways to pass the time.
Here are some tips and tricks we’ve learned over many miles for both keeping safe and entertained while traveling.
1. Use bins and backpacks.
We pull some of these collapsible bins from Bella’s playroom to store her toys and food in. Not only does it keep our car from becoming an explosion we have to sort through, but it helps her to grab them from her carseat and pull out what she wants while we drive. Her small backpack with lots of pockets is perfect for when we fly. I can carry it as well as her and still keep my hands free, and it keeps everything securely zippered.
2. Buy new toys.
No, you don’t have to go overboard. Just a few things from the clearance or dollar section (and maybe one special toy) will do. Get them all unwrapped and batteries in. Every few hours, a new plaything breaks up the monotony of traveling.
3. Take your car in before you go.
Car seat checks are a must — find a place here. If you aren’t sure how to check fluids or tires, head to your dealership or auto shop and have them do a quick run through. I’ve had my windshield wiper fluid run out and then hit a massive bug storm going 75mph. Lesson learned.
4. Eliminate flat tires.
This is one of my biggest fears while traveling — especially if I’m alone. A flat tire. I can’t imagine being stuck on the side of a freeway attempting to change one, or waiting for a tow truck who will then charge us a hefty fee. Consider getting a run-flat tire — Bridgestone has their new DriveGuard that launched this May. These tires allow you to drive up to 50mph for 50 additional miles on a completely flat tire. No more tows or extensive wait times.
5. Be prepared to stop.
Google Maps tells us five hours to our first hotel. We know it’s more like seven. With our dog and Bella, we need to make frequent restroom/stretch/food stops. While these have become not as frequent as she’s older, when she was a toddler we were pretty consistent to stop every two hours — at the most. Build this extra time into your trip so you aren’t stressed or miss an event.
6. Keep comfort items within reach.
When Bella was little, we actually brought her toddler bed mattress with us because she refused to sleep (well) on anything else. Was that a little crazy? Yes. Did it save our sanity that trip when she had croup? Yes. I bought a paci clip (these custom ones are so darling) and attached her favorite animal to it — so I didn’t have to search the car floor every five minutes from her dropping it. We know to have all of her lovies right by her, as well as her blanket by her side if she gets chilly.
7. Travel at bedtime.
If you can, the best time to put some serious miles behind you is during the times your kids are asleep. Traveling early or late (making sure you’re well-rested) can mean a few hours of totally uninterrupted time in the car or flying. It makes the trip seem shorter for the kids and easier on you.
What are some of your favorite travel tips?