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We all know that if you’re the mom, a vacation really isn’t a vacation. You have to do all the laundry so you can have clothes to pack. You have to make sure that every single member of the family is bringing every single thing they’ll need (including your husband). And when you add a toddler to this mess, it’s get’s even harder. Toddlers are so hard to travel with, but today I’m going to share with you some of my tips and tricks to making traveling with a toddler easier on you and your family.
We used to live about a 3 hour drive away from family which meant that we would take short trips all the time. This was when my 4 kids were aged 5 to newborn (my fifth didn’t come along until later). Having that many kids and traveling with toddlers and a newborn made the trip about an hour longer than it should have taken. Sometimes 2 hours longer depending on how hungry the baby was. I also traveled by myself with my kids without help from my husband because he worked non stop. It was not a walk in the park.
I learned a lot during those long trips to visit family. And today I’m sharing my knowledge with you in hopes that it will save your sanity while preparing for all your fun trips that you have planned this summer.
1. Make sure you have a lot of activities planned for the car. A small child’s attention span is only about as long as how old they are. So if they are 3, their attention span is about 3 minutes. If you have some fun games planned with a lot of interaction, that will keep them occupied for a longer amount of time. Games like “I Spy” and “Searching for Colors” (just tell them a color and have them see how many things they can find outside that are that color) are great games for this. I have a list of “15 Road Trip Games for Kids” that you can pin for later to pull up on your road trip. These games are for all different ages of kids, including teenagers. My kids love these games and so do I because it keeps the electronics and movies off, and gets the kids interacting with each other.
We also love our tablets. We can download a lot of games to keep the kids occupied and learning at the same time. Some of our favorite apps are:
- Pigment: This is a coloring book app that is suited for older kids. But my 5 year old and my teenagers both love it. You can download it in the Apple Store HERE.
- Feed the Animals: This cute game builds your child’s cognitive skills. Your child will learn ABC’s, Tracing, Counting and more. You can download it from the Apple Store HERE.
- ABC Mouse: Is the #1 learning program for ages 2-7! ABCmouse.com is proven to accelerate learning, with children developing early literacy and math skills. You can download it from the Apple Store HERE.
There are so many more apps to choose from it’s not even funny! Just head to the Apple Store HERE and search for the type of game you like. Be sure to see what age the app is geared towards to see if it’s appropriate for your child’s developmental stage. And if you don’t have Apple Devices, most of these apps are available in the Google Play Store for Android.
2. Bring a lot of snacks and water. Bringing snacks along lessens the amount of stopping for hungry tummies. We like to pack healthy snacks like pretzels, fruit, crackers etc. And when it comes to drinks, we only pack water. Why? Because the kids don’t guzzle it down like they do fruit juice or soda. And less guzzling equals less stops to go pee. Sometimes we would save special treats for certain destinations. When we reached our trips 1/4 way mark (Usually marked by a certain city or town) we would get out one of the special treats. The kids knew that the longer we could wait to make stops, the sooner they’d get their special treats. We had a treat for 1/4 way, 1/2 way and 3/4 of the way there.
3. Pack as lightly as possible and make sure everything has wheels. I always tend to over pack, thinking I might need something. I didn’t plan as well as I should have. I understand that babies and toddlers need about 3 outfits per day because of diaper blowouts and accidents, so I started packing for myself a lot lighter. This saved us time and it also saved my back not having to carry such heavy bags. This is especially important when you are flying somewhere with kids. Make sure all your baggage has wheels and make sure you bring an umbrella stroller along. You don’t want a big bulky stroller when traveling. The lighter the better!
If your child is now able to sit in a booster seat, pack that lightly too by using the mifold Booster Seat. Have you seen this brilliant seat yet? It is the smartest thing I’ve seen for parents in a long time.
This booster seat folds up so small it will fit in your purse or diaper bag. This comes in extremely handy when you are traveling to a big city where you’ll be taking a lot of taxi’s. The mifold Booster Seat unfolds and holds the lap part of the seat belt snugly in place where it needs to be.
Did you know that the reason kids use booster seats is because of where the lap belt hits them when buckled. It can not be on their tummies. It must be across their laps. The mifold Booster Seat does that and holds the shoulder strap where it needs to be also. We have the red and blue one because it looks like Spiderman! We love how convenient it is while traveling.
Do you want to see how easy it is to use? Head to the mifold website and see for yourself.
You need to check out the mifold Booster Seat if you are planning a trip this year with your family. You will not regret this purchase.
4. Bring comfort items for your little ones. If your child is attached to a special blanket or stuffed animal, be sure to bring it along. Now is not the time to wean them from their favorite ‘stuffy’. Sometimes traveling can be stressful and scary for little ones who are used to being at home with mom all day. Just do yourself a favor and bring it along so everyone can be happy.
5. Give yourself plenty of time. We all know that toddlers are unpredictable. They need time to process their surroundings, and if you are rushing them you might as well be prepared for a major tantrum. The greatest thing you can take is extra time.
6. Get a child locator. Especially if you are going someplace crowded like Disneyland. Toddlers don’t like to hold on to your hand when they are running through a crowd, which is why my toddlers are always strapped into a stroller. But we all know that one tantrum in a stroller will result in letting them out for a while. Keep tabs on them at airports, train stations and crowded attractions with a child locator. The child wears a small unit (strapped to a belt or shoe) and you keep the transmitter. If you lose your child set off the alarm and follow the sound to find them.
I wish you the best of luck this summer with all of your travel plans! I hope some of these tips will make the vacations you have planned more enjoyable for you and your family. Don’t forget to take a vacation from your vacation when you get home and take a couple days off from doing the laundry.
What are some tips you would add to this list?