Last updated on August 16th, 2019
Taking a long road trip is meant to be fun. But when you have toddlers in the back seat, it can be little nerve-racking. They have short attention spans and soon they’ll be asking the question “How Much Longer?”, or “I’m Hungary”. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There is plenty of way’s you can all have an enjoyable time on your next road trip. All it takes is a little planning to have a great road trips with Toddlers.
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10 Must Have’s for Road Trips with Toddlers
It won’t be long until you have someone asking for something to snack on. Chances are, you may even stop at a gas station convince store for a potty break and the question will be asked. If you come prepared with a few snacks, you’ll solve this problem. The best snacks for the road, don’t include anything with chocolate, or little bits of stuff. Cheerios sound good in theory until the bag drops and then you are cleaning cheerios out of the seat for the next 6 months. For a quick variety of snacks, pick up a Hangry Emergency Kit. It’s stocked with things like granola bars, crackers, nuts, and popcorn to keep little kids busy. You can also add in apple slices or veggie sticks. These will fill them up and not load them with extra sugar.
Water the best thing you can give your kids to stay hydrated in the car. As tempting as juice and milk can be, they have added sugars that will make your kids antsier in the backseat. But my biggest reason for not wanting to give it to them is because sometimes it gets forgotten. There is nothing worse than having your kid’s pick up a juice that’s been sitting there for some unknown number of days.
To avoid fights, give each kid their own water bottle. For a road trip with toddlers, Get a bottle with a straw like the CamelBak BPA Free water bottle. It’s built tough for all their adventures. It’s more convenient to drink when they are in a restrictive car seat.
Clothing and Comfort
No matter how nice your cars climate control is, the back seat will ever get the same level of heat or cool that the front seat does. That’s why you should always throw in your kids’ favorite blanket. This will let them get comfy in the back seat and bonus, they may even decide to take a nap.
Another thing to bring is extra clothing. Having to make an emergency stop on the hunt for extra clothes is never fun. Not only will it cut into your time, but chances are also you’ll be paying a premium for something you didn’t want in the first place. Everyone in the car should have a sweatshirt or hoodie at a minimum. For road trips with toddlers, include an extra pair of underwear or pull-ups and pants.
To keep them together, store them in a secret compartment in your car. SUV’s and cars will often have them under the floor in the back seat, under the seat themselves or in the trunk. I like to put them in a packing cube like the Shacke Pak. This way they won’t be stepped on or covered in any snacks your little one has dropped and stay neatly folded.
Toys are where most people go overboard. They like to bring a bunch of little things. Within the first 30 minutes, your kids drop them on the floor and are board. Soon they have nothing to play with and the floor of your car covered. Instead, have them pick out 1-2 plush toys. With less to play with, they will use their imaginations more and act out stories with them. You can have them bring a plush animal like a pillow pet that also doubles as a pillow.
Toddlers love learning about the world around them. That is why I love kids games that include things in the outside world. Things like ‘Eye Spy’ is always fun. Toddles will love spotting cows or horses. As your kid gets older, this can be transitioned into 20 questions and Road Trip Bingo.
My favorite game to play is Would You Rather. You can make up question on your own, or pick up a copy of the You Gotta be Kidding! The Crazy Book of “Would You Rather…?” Questions. It’s full of silly questions that are bound to start a few conversions in your car.
As tempting as it is to bring a bunch of your child’s favorite coloring books and crayons, DON’T. Your toddler will end up dropping them all over the car. Once your kid turns 6 or 7, you can introduce them back into the fold in a carrying case. Instead, have your toddler use a Magnetic Doodle Pad. The primary pen tool is hooked on so they can always find it. Your toddler will never run out of coloring sheets.
Puzzles are another way to keep your little one entertained. Head over to the dollar store a pickup a Cookie Sheet and some puzzles. Then place self-adhesive magnets on the back. You can pick them up at any craft store. I recommend getting a flat sheet of them. The rolled kind has a tendency to curl. Throw all the piece in a plastic bag for the kids to play with.
Like with the toys, stick with only a few books. Pick out some of their favorites to bring with. This will give them something to look at. If your toddler likes things that are more interactive, like Melissa & Doug Reusable Stickers Books. That way if your kid decides to put them on the side of the car, you can peal them off easily.
For longer trips, over 2 hours, consider bringing a tablet. There are many on the market but I’ve found that Kindle Fire to be the most kid-friendly. Unlike iPads, Kindles have incredible parental controls. They are more cost effective and easy for your kids to navigate. You can fully customize the cases.
One of the best features of the Kindles is the Amazon FreeTime Unlimited. It’s a subscription for kids that offers unlimited access to thousands of kid-friendly books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, and games. As a parent, you can set limits on the time spent on each activity. Amazon is offering one month free of their service. LINK
Amazon offers a standard Kindle Fire Tablet and a Kids Edition Tablet. The standard version of the Kindle is a little cheaper, but the kid’s version comes with a 2 year worry free guarantee. It’s so worry-free, that if it breaks for any reason, they will replace it. Kids will be kids and Amazon understands that. It also comes with a 1-year subscription to FreeTime Unlimited. It’s hard to pass up that piece of mind.
Before you leave the house, download some movies, TV shows, games and books to the Fire. Set them up with some headphones and you’ll have a great trip.
The last thing you want to do is find a place for everything in the car. For road trips with toddlers who are stuck in a 5 point harness, have a storage bin next to their seat. Things can easily be placed in there with little effort. But with systems like the Lusso Gear Organizer, they still have compartments for drinks and snacks but the open section for everything else.
For older kids that have graduated to a booster seat, use a seat back organizer, like the Oasser Kick Mats Seat Protector. This will keep everything more contained and as a bonus, has pockets for their tables, drinks, snacks, pillow, Kleenex and anything else they may have brought with.
Road Trips with Toddlers are something that you should look forward too. They are a great way to build family memories as you travel across the country or just to Grandmas house for Thanksgiving. I hope you have a great trip with your family.