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Toddler road trip travel trips

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Toddler road trip travel trips

By Christine Davis

Road trip! It’s an event synonymous with summer and one that can strike fear in the parents of toddlers. Will she scream the whole way? How many times will he ask “are we there yet”? Am I going to regret this?

The Griswolds we are not – at 2.5 years and 4 months our kids are too young for such shenanigans – but we attempted our first road trip with a toddler this spring, a 13.5 hour journey that gave us a week at the beach and here’s what I learned along the way:

Talk to them: Before and during the trip. Tell them where you’re going, how long it will take and what to expect of the journey. My daughter loves explanations and this helped her get through that long car ride.

Screen time: We don’t let our toddler watch much TV, but she has a favourite movie and TV show. I loaded the movie and episodes onto the iPad and she happily watched them on repeat most of the way there. In fact, she was so happy to get to watch (and excited to get to the beach) she didn’t sleep a wink on the way there.

*Bonus tip: Make sure the screen they’re watching is stationary. A colleague says his kids got motion sick when watching iPads placed in their laps. 

3. Bring toys: Pack a few small, favoured toys and books. My daughter brought a small backpack full. We also bought an assortment of new toys from the Dollar Store – some she picked out, some I kept as a surprise. I wrapped each individually and every couple of hours she was able to choose a new toy from the bag. She never knew what she was getting, which added to the excitement of getting something new. 

Pack snacks: If you’re trying to make good time you won’t want to be held up by slow toddler eating at rest stops. Sandwiches, cheese, fruit and veggies are great for munching in the car, plus they’re more healthy than what you might buy on the road and cost much less when brought from home.

Take breaks: While you might not eat at every stop, you will need to take bathroom breaks and stretch your legs. Use these breaks as a chance for your toddler to exert some of that pent-up energy. Look for rest stops with grassy areas for running around and run with them. You’ll feel better too. On the same note, stop early if you need to sleep on the way. Find a hotel with a swimming pool and let them go for a dip. A half hour in the water will provide a chance to burn up more energy and help them sleep.

Don’t underestimate them: Toddlers will surprise you, as any parent knows. They can take a lot more than you might think. So expect the worst and hope for the best.