Oh yes, it is that time of year again with spring break trips happening now and with the summer months right around the corner, family vacations are looming! Here are a few tips to hopefully make things a little smoother for you when you end up traveling with a toddler.
7 Tips to make Traveling with Toddlers Easier
- Get Smart. Use Your Smartphone. Now is the time to take advantage of that unlimited data plan that you pay out the ear for. Download 4 or 5 kid-friendly apps that your toddler will love to play and it will keep them occupied on a long trip.
- Pack Snacks. Be prepared with lots of your child’s favorite treats. Attempt to make most of the snacks healthy, so when those “cries” for snacks come, you can oblige without the guilt. Healthy Travel Snacks
- Plan Ahead. Make sure all of your reservations are confirmed and any special requests for your toddler are arranged. Make sure you have enough of your toddler’s medication for the length of the trip. If needed, get your child to the doctor for a refill. Make sure everything is in order and packed up before you head out. This free packing list printable will help you make sure you’ve packed everything!
- Color Time. Here is a super time to put together a coloring and activity book along with crayons for your kids for them to stay a little busy on the road trip. If you are flying, ask the flight attendant for the airline’s kid coloring book because most have them if you ask. Have your kids create a picture about their vacation. Here is a free printable travel journal for kids.
- Videos Galore. With so many technological advancements available in today’s auto industry, you might find that popping in one of your child’s favorite dvd’s, or jamming out to some of their favorite tunes, will be all that is needed to keep the peace and your sanity down the long stretch of highway towards your next vacation destination. Most vehicles come equipped with a DVD player and this feature can be a life saver on any trip, let alone while you are running errands on a typical day around town. Let your toddler pick several of his or her favorites too. For an airplane trip, use your laptop as a mini movie theater and get a child friendly set of earphones and see how many hours you can have your little one entertained. Download free movies from Amazon.
- Trains and Buses. This is a great time to try to take the train or bus if possible for your fun, family vacation. Not only will you be able to enjoy a more relaxing trip, but your young ones will be able to be more entertained by the sights and sounds of the train too. Think of all the special time that everyone can have as you speed along the highway on the bus or speed along the countryside on a train.
- Most importantly, Have Fun! Take tons of pictures and create a family photo album or a video of all of your adventures. Toddlers will always be a handful on any trip, but just try a few of these tips and you never know, things could be just a little bit easier this time around.
Car Games For Younger Children
If you find yourself in need of a few more ideas, here are some of my favorite car games for younger children.
Create a Fun Bag
With preschool and small school age children, try packing a fun new bag with some of their old favorites from home like travel size games, hand-held video games, picture books, coloring books and crayons, and other small toys.
Try making the bag exciting, by throwing in some new, small wrapped gifts. What child doesn’t love tearing off wrapping paper? If you’ll be traveling with more than one child, make sure that while catering to each child’s method of individual play and interests, the sacks still contain relatively the same things to avoid the dreaded backseat bickering all siblings are perfect at.
Name That Animal
When the sacks have got you as far as they’re going to go, it’s time to captivate them with a few new fun games. One that I enjoy with my kids, on short and long car rides, is “Name that Animal”. We take turns giving clues while the other guesses about different kinds of animals. With your younger children, you might try making animal noises, and with the older ones, have fun challenging them while they learn new and interesting information. For example, you might ask your two year old,
“What kind of animal says moo moo?”, while you challenge your school age child by asking, “What kind of animal has a long neck and a black tongue?”, you might be very surprised by your children’s answers, as well as your ability to sound like a convincing frog. Many children love showing off what they know to their parents, so you can probably come up with many variations of this same game.
Draw a Story
When you’ve run out of animals, try getting your children involved with telling a story. Remember those handy sacks? Have them draw pictures to illustrate their story. Get them started with a beginning, and have them help fill in the blanks. For example, you start with something simple, “Once there was a little tiger in Asia, who loved to….”, and have them tell the next line. By telling the story together, your youngster gets to show off there imagination and creativity, and with a little guidance from you, he or she just might write their first great masterpiece.
Alphabet Scavenger Hunt
Running out of ideas for a story, then try a backseat alphabet scavenger hunt. While keeping in mind your child’s age, make it challenging and fun. Ask your child to call out objects they see that start with a certain letter, and when they find 3 objects (or more depending on your child’s ability) starting with that letter, it’s your turn. They might find an Airplane in the sky, an apple in their snack bag, and a picture of an alligator in one of their books, and then it’s your turn to find things beginning with the letter b.
When gizmos and gadgets just aren’t enough, remember this tried and true rule, kid’s crave your attention more than anything else! No matter the game, chances are, your little one will remain fully entertained just by having you play it with them. Not only are you making the hours fly by, but you’re giving them something very precious, your time. So have fun with it, be creative, let them take the lead, and let your next road trip be a memory worth cherishing for a lifetime.
Do you have a tip or trick we need to know when it comes to traveling with a toddler? I would love to hear your tip. Leave a comment below!