We recently returned from a twelve day car trip through New York state en route to Montauk, Long Island…. with Buds…. in a car… for a long time.
Are we crazy, you may ask? Maybe, but we planned for insanity and it worked, for the most part.
Here are our tips for traveling with a little one.
Toys Toys Toys
– I spent about a month collecting a bunch of inexpensive toys and books (think Value Village and garage sales) to entertain Buds in the car. I picked up a small laundry basket at the Dollerama and filled it with these toys for the backseat. This was a huge hit as all the toys were completely new to him and therefor the coolest thing ever.
– I also bought a tray that attaches around the car seat so that kiddo can play and eat while in the car. This is an awesome product and I hope to use it in the future but on this trip, my little man flat out refused to have in on his lap. Sigh. This meant lots of reaching around from the front seat to pick up fallen hockey books and tractors.
Snacks and More Snacks
I may not be winning any parenting award for this, but Buds was a real snacker while we were away.
Snacks are an easy way to not only distract a toddler who is nearing his breaking point, but also to make sure that he got some reasonable nutrients while eating from kids menus (AKA the land of fries and chicken fingers). The US has a great selection of organinc kids snacks available at practically every grocery store (I got them at Target, of course). I was able to pick up puffs and “slamos”, what the little man calls those squeezy tetra pack puree things. These were perfect for the car as they minimized the mess.
The brands that I like are Plum, Happy Baby, Earth’s Best and Annies.
Try (and I mean this loosely) to stick to your toddlers nap schedule
Remember “Sleep when your baby sleeps?”
On the road, try “Drive when your baby sleeps”.
We tried as best we could to plan all car rides over 3 hours to roughly coincide with Buds usual nap schedule. This would allow him some wind down time before going to sleep while still getting in a good 1.5 to 2 hour nap. This worked about 50% of the time. He usually slept but never for as long as we hoped and we had a couple of serious wake up freak outs.
When we were in one place for a few days, we were pretty good about his nap schedule and he was pretty happy to go down. One reason for this, I think, is that we made sure to make it as consistant as possible with home. We brought his pack and play from home, all of his sleep toys, before bed books and his Sleep Sheep. Surrounded by familiar things, nap times and bed times were pretty smooth.
A trip like the one that we took is never going to go exactly how you hope, no matter how military your planning strategy, so lots of patience is required. However, the adventures I was able to share with my two favorite guys wastotally worth the occasional aggravation.