How We Survived a Road Trip with Toddlers

Thank you all for your super supportive comments on my last post, regarding B’s speech pathologist. Her style doesn’t match mine, and it definitely doesn’t seem to match B’s. And perhaps shopping around for a new speech pathologist is in my future. For now, we only see her once a month and I’ve just decided – I feel like his speech is taking off. This past weekend alone was wonderful. He is continuously speaking in 4 word sentences, even if they are broken. Just at dinner tonight, he said “C…eat…Daddy’s…potatoes. B…eat…Mommy’s…potatoes”, as the kids sampled our dinner. I mean – it’s slow and deliberate, but the speech is there. I’m feeling better about it now.

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As the title suggests, this past weekend we took a road trip; a mini vacation. It’s about a 6 hour drive normally (no traffic), and with one hour long stop, you’re looking at a long day in the car. Last summer, we took the same trip. I find car rides to be challenging with both babies and toddlers. With babies, you don’t know how to keep them entertained, and they cry and can’t tell you what’s wrong. Last year, they fell asleep too soon on the way home and then screamed the rest of the ride after a short nap, when it should’ve been bedtime. With toddlers though, every time we’re in the car, someone drops a toy. Someone wants what the other has. Someone is hungry. Someone is bored. And that’s a hassle too. So for this trip, I wanted travel to go as smoothly as possible. I scoured the internet for some tips, implemented them, and they WORKED. So I’m passing them on to you!

1) The first and BEST tip I can possibly share is this simple one: Stop at a playground. It bears repeating, because it’s so worthwhile – stop at a playground. Instead of a typical rest stop, with a million people inside the building waiting in long lines for food, with antsy toddlers who are overwhelmed by noise and hunger – stop at a playground. Where? Ahead of time, plan out approximately when you’ll need a lunch (or stretch) break. We knew we wanted to stop around noon. We charted the course and figured out where we should be with no traffic, and then googled playgrounds in that town. We found the best playground, a beach spot. Sounded perfect.

Except we hit traffic because it was the Fourth of July weekend. Lots of traffic. As we sat in it, we needed a Plan B. So we quickly looked up playgrounds in our area, in a state we weren’t familiar with. We found one. And it was this beauty of a playground. It even had a splash pad, tennis courts – I mean, if we knew we were stopping here we would’ve stayed all day. Right when the twins were hungry and fussy, we got off the highway and stopped here for lunch. I had already packed them their easy-to-eat lunch, couscous chicken sticks, carrots and peas, and apple sticks. They sat on a bench and leisurely ate lunch. Then, we let them run around on the playground. They went on swings (big kid swings until they both fell off lol), down slides, and we changed diapers on a bench. The weather was perfect. When we climbed back in the car after an hour, they passed out, right in time for their nap. They got their stretch break and we got a nice surprise, a mini day trip all in itself. This rest stop was key for our journey.

2) The second best thing we did to survive this car ride was to put all the home movies I have taken of them since birth (um, 208 and counting…) and burn them together, like for a DVD, and then put them on the ipad. In fact, the ipad couldn’t even hold all the videos I have taken, so it was only about half. And even that was a full length movie – 90 minutes. This movie they watched of themselves for 90 minutes was totally worth the time it took to get them on the ipad. They loved watching themselves as babies, hearing our dogs bark in the background, watching Daddy be silly. For a long car ride – burn home movies.

3) I spent a day looking up how to best show said ipad movie – and there are some great cases you can buy that hook up to seats. Most are for forward facing car seats though, and mine are still rear facing. Plus, with shipping times, we wouldn’t have received any case in time. So my husband was kind enough to take some scrap wood we had and spend a few hours one night to make a mini table. It fits right between the car seats, and even after the road trip, I won’t take it out. It’s perfect for books and toys, and the twins can grab them as they want them. To show the movie, he put up two pieces of foam padding on the sides to make sure the ipad wouldn’t slide off. After they woke up from their car nap, we propped up the ipad and put on the movie. Twice. (More traffic.) Here’s what this looked like:

IMG_24174) The last tip I would give to survive a road trip with toddlers is to provide random activities in little ziplock baggies (the ones with the zippers they can open themselves) and as the kids get fussy, give them something new one by one. And not just normal standard toys – think outside the box. Here are a few of the travel busy bags they had:

-Slinkies

-Q-tips into water bottles

-Crayons and Sticky Notes

-Magnetic letters and small cookie sheets (.88 at Walmart!)

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We had a few others as well, but these plus the ipad movie and the playground stop were enough! The others are saved for the next trip!

We arrived at our lake destination for a relaxing, calm, easy weekend. The twins slept until 8:15 every day (mind-blowing), took good naps, and even ate a bunch of new foods, including bacon, corn on the cob, french toast, and baked beans, otherwise known as “brown peas”. We went on many nature walks and watched the passing boats. We had a great time!

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2 thoughts on “How We Survived a Road Trip with Toddlers

  1. randomsqueaks says:

    Amazing. We’re at the beach right now and the playground idea is such a good one! With a 12 hour drive, we can’t stop for very long at any one spot but we did stop often. And the iPad cases! I looked for those too and even bought one that kinda fits, and then of course forgot to put the iPad in it during a stop. But I did prop it up on their toy basket and found out they really like How to Train Your Dragon until the scary final battle part.
    I completely agree with you about trips being hard with babies and toddlers both. I’m not sure which is better. Or worse.

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