Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Toddler Travel: A 12-Hour Road Trip!

We spent 12 hours in the car yesterday.  Yes, 12!  We've been vising my husband's family in Wisconsin, but I had to be back for a meeting today.  Rather than having to leave a day earlier than we'd planned, we decided to marathon-drive our way home.  Since we have a 17-month-old son, we had to do a little extra planning on the front end of the trip.  Otherwise, we could have had a miserable day.
Here are my 5 tips for a long car ride, toddler edition:

Tip #1 - Baby Wipes

Seriously, bring MORE baby wipes than you think you need.  When we travel, I usually use between 1-2 whole 100-ct wipes packages.  It's easier to have extra on hand so that you can use as much as you need.  Whenever I bring "just enough," there is always some major mess that occurs to thwart my planning.  (Thwart?  Where did that come from?)

Tip #2 - Noisemaker 

We have a great noisemaker for nighttime that plugs into the wall.  However, that doesn't work for the car ride.  Someone gave us this little lamb when my son was born, and it has proved to be a life-saver.  My son fights naps in the car because he doesn't want to miss anything.  When mama and daddy are both awake in the car, his little brain is on overload of possible fun!  This noisemaker has a timer and several different noise settings.  Our current favorite is whale sounds.  We'll turn this on at naptime, and it helps to calm our little guy.

Tip #3 - Orange Fishies 

I think my son could eat his weight in orange fishies.  It doesn't take a lot of fishies, but 5-8 of these orange guys can work wonders!  When it was nearing lunchtime, we were in the middle of nowhere.  Orange fishies.  When we were nearly stopped from road construction traffic, my son thought it was time to get out and play.  Orange fishies.  When it was clearly dinner time, we were 15 minutes from home.  Orange fishies.  Don't underestimate the power of a few fish.

Tip #4 - A few of the favorite DVDs
My son LOOOOOVES Go Diego Go!  He is allowed to watch one episode after his nap each day, and he gets so excited to hear that theme song.  When travelling 12 hours in a car, please don't hold yourself to the normal rules of entertainment.  In a normal day, my son does not watch a movie; he does not watch multiple episodes of Diego in a row.  However, desperate times call for desperate measures.  A 12 hour car trip is one of those desperate times.  He was absolutely beside himself when he got to watch a whole disc of Diego (4 episodes) all at once.  More importantly, we got to drive 90 minutes with a very happy little boy.  I'm not suggesting that the DVD player needs to run nonstop, but a movie or a few extra episodes of your child's favorite show will work wonders in terms of parental serenity.  You can only sing the same song so many times before you go insane! 
We will get back to the normal entertainment viewing today, but it was 100% worth the extra TV time yesterday to have a few moments of quiet calmness.
Tip #5 - Toys!
We are really into animals these days.  It probably has something to do with Diego ... Anyway, we have a set of 8 safari animals.  They are an absolute must-have for a car ride.  My little guy played with these 8 animals for hours over the course of the day.  We heard a lot of lion roars and jaguar growls.  Zebra and hippo practiced their jumping skills.  Rhino took a nose dive off into the diaper bag.  He was happy playing with his favorite toys and taking them on new adventures.  We were happy that he was having fun instead of being fussy or bored.
These are just a few things that made my life easier yesterday.
Car rides are rarely fun, but we made the best out of our day.  Remember that the car will eventually stop at its destination.  Remember that you really do love everyone in the car and try to react with kindness and love. 
Remember these 5 tips for travelling with a toddler.
What tips can you share with me?  What is one item you won't leave home without?

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