Car trips can be a ton of fun! Junk food, radio karaoke, seeing new sights. But once you have kids, car trips change a little bit. Diaper change breaks, crying, snacks, thrown toys, breastfeeding/bottle time…it all adds up to make for a stressful adventure. As my husband does lumberjack competitions all over New England from July-October, I am no stranger to car trips with little kids. An average trip for us is 2.5-4 hours one way and we do 16-19 of these a summer. That’s a lot of car time for a small child. Here are the tips and tricks I have discovered to make surviving car trips with little kids a little easier.
Have a box of toys that are only for the car. Never bring these toys out for any other purpose. Be sure to change it up a little every couple of trips if you go on a lot of trips. These don’t have to be expensive or complicated. However, you do need to make sure they don’t have a ton of little pieces. One of the best car toys for a small child is magnetic play sets. There are little pieces but they are harder to lose as they stick to the metal play board. Special markers that only write on certain paper are another good car toy choice. Be sure not to overlook small stuffed animals and picture books as well.
We use a Kindle Fire for games and movies for part of trips as well. I wouldn’t suggest a tablet for the whole trip but it can be a handy tool for when kids are getting too restless.
Plan your breaks
Do your research before you take your trip or with your smartphone while traveling to find playgrounds, McDonald’s that have a Play Place, etc. Long trips and little kids mean you need wiggle breaks, as many of them as you can afford to take. Plan on having wiggle breaks every 2 hours. If you can’t find a playground near where you need to take a break, take a long walk around a rest area. Do some simple games like asking your kid to run from one tree to another than hop on one foot between the trees then skip, etc.Survive car trips with little kids with these simple tips Click To Tweet
Stage your car
If you have space, stage your car to make the trip easier. Instead of just shoving everything into a diaper bag and a toy bag, consider setting up a bag for each kid that has their toys, their extra clothes, and their snacks. Another idea if you have a child in diapers is to make a diaper station basket and keep it in the truck or on the floor in front of their car seat, wherever will be close to where you will need to change a diaper. Not all public restrooms have a changing table so you need to plan on having to change diapers in the car.
Consider the same if your have a baby who drinks formula. Be sure you have a whole can of formula and enough water with you but also use one of those little pre-measured formula containers. Sometimes Baby just can’t wait until you measure everything out. I found having a bottle with the right amount of water and a small container with the right amount of formula in it make it so much easier when the baby was getting hangry.
Car trips with little kids can be manageable if you plan ahead and have special things to make the trip more fun for them. If the kids are having fun and less whiny, the more likely you’ll be able to enjoy the trip too!