My daughter was 41 days old the first time we set out on a road trip. We drove from Palm Beach County, FL to San Antonio, Texas. My husband and I learned some things about travel with children while I was alternating between driving and hanging over my daughter’s carseat, breastfeeding. We recently initiated my six month old son on traveling by road a week ago when we drove up to Washington D.C. My mommy friends and I spent our last playdate talking about how daunting road travel can seem, so I decided to share our combined wisdom with the world.
Are you afraid to travel with children under 4? I guarantee it is not as difficult as it might seem at first. The key is to have a PAST.
If your two year old is anything like my two year old you are in for some fun times. This age group is known for testing boundaries and discovering their plumbing. Somewhere between Richmond and D.C. my daughter decided that she didn’t want a diaper anymore, she wanted to use the potty. While this is commendable, this stretch of road has some of the worst traffic in the country, so getting her to a potty proved very difficult. To combat this, my fellow mommies have come up with 2 suggestions:
A) Bring a potty with you – a MOPS group I occasionally go to had a whole meeting about this. When these supermoms go on road trips home to Michigan or Georgia they take along their child’s potty chair. When traffic builds up at the same time nature is calling their child, they are prepared!
B) Travel at night – I prefer this method because bodily fluids and I are not friends. If it takes us 8 hrs or longer to get somewhere, I try to always travel at night. More sleep = less potty time.
If traveling at night is not possible, and you’ve made your potty decisions, the next thing you have to worry about is what your children are going to do for the entire trip. For older kids, the license plate game, the alphabet game, movies on tablets or required reading are all great ideas. However, for the under 4 year olds, these activities won’t work for long. And if you’re like me, you’ve (un)fortunately trained your kids to not be into TV because you’ve read those AAP articles on how TV time is detrimental to kids under 4. I suggest Imagine ink notepads! These notepads are genius because they only color on the notepad. Not your car or their car seat! Other toys that worked for my 2 yrs old and my 6 month old are
-baby dolls with clothes (hours spent dressing and undressing the doll)
-rattles (that the 2 year old shook for the 6 month old because she was “helping”)
I know. I know. I KNOW. Normally you’re the mama that buys the organic chips from Trader Joe’s and only let’s your kid sniff my kid’s Wal-Mart Teddy Grams from across the playground. But really Mommy, a road trip is the time to let loose a little bit. Since 2 year olds have to be watched when they eat things like carrots and apples (hello choking hazard), embrace the cheesy puff, pretzel and go-gurt. If you’re not an allergy family, embrace the PB&J sandwhiches. Or, google the closest Chic-Fil-A and help your kid get in the rambling road mood.
The most hotly debated thing about road trips is who gets to run the radio, the driver or the co-pilot? In my family the driver picks the tunes, because night-driving requires music that won’t lull the driver into a 16 wheeler. When you’re not night-driving, use this trip as an opportunity to expose your child to a variety of great music. Our family recommends the following 3 albums:
A.) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1
B.) Hillsong UNITED: the white album [remix project]
C.) Christina Aguilera’s Keeps Getting Better: A Decade of Hits
This is my family’s guidelines to road tripping. Did we forget anything? What tips help your family?