We've been spending a LOT of time on the road lately. And this week we're adding another couple hours to the mix since we're heading to the lake for a long weekend. That means four whole days of tubing and tangled hair and time with our family. But before we get to the fun, we have to survive a 3-hour (or more) car ride with Luna.
In the past, I would have been seriously stressed out right about now. Even the thought of traveling with Lu used to give me the worst anxiety! But motherhood has taught me a few things and I've picked up a few survival tips along the way. They've made car rides so much easier for me - and I'm hoping they'll work for you, too!
TIP #1 - TIME IT RIGHT
Whenever possible, I plan road trips around Luna's schedule. We wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, and then play. I mean really play. I chase her around and tickle her and do anything I can think of to wear her out. By the time we leave, she's usually ready for quiet time and a long nap. Perfect timing to start a trip!
TIP #2 - KEEP ESSENTIALS WITHIN REACH
There was a time when I would toss my diaper bag into the back seat before trips. It was such a rookie move! These days, I keep it up front with me and all essentials within reach. That includes a bottle, sippy cup, pacifier, snacks, a light blanket and a few toys. If Luna starts fussing, I just pass her one of the toys or a bottle and keep going!
TIP #3 - DESIGNATE TOYS JUST FOR THE CAR
Speaking of toys, I always keep a few special ones in the car, like Luna's stuffed puppy. When I'm ready to leave the house I'll say, "Lu, do you want to see your puppy?!" and she runs straight to the door. I hand her the toy, strap her into the car seat without a struggle, and we're on our way! Every few weeks, I'll rotate the toys out or let her pick out a brand new one at the store. And once she's a little older, I'll add crayons, notepads, and little games into the mix.
TIP #4 - KEEP THINGS COMFORTABLE
On travel days, I dress Luna in soft, light clothing and stay away from anything with buttons, zippers, or itchy tags that could irritate her skin. I also prefer short sleeves. It's way easier to toss back a light blanket than to change her out of an outfit that's too hot!
Which reminds me .... keep in mind that most cars have better circulation and air flow in the front seat. Even if you're comfortable in the front, you might want to take it down a couple degrees to keep your little one feeling the same way in the back :)
TIP #5 - TAKE BREAKS OFTEN
Another way I keep Luna happy on the road? We pull over at least once every hour (or two) and let her run around. Sometimes we stop at parks along the way and other times it's just a grassy patch next to a gas station. But either way, we give her a chance to stretch her legs and get rid of pent up energy. There's one exception to this rule and that's when she's sleeping. In that case, we just keep driving and hope we don't run out of gas or have to pee before she wakes up.
TIP #6 - PLAN FOR DELAYS
GPS needs a "traveling with a toddler" option that automatically adds a couple hours to any road trip. Since that's not available yet, just assume that it's going to take a little longer than expected to get anywhere you're going. Anticipating delays makes it much easier to cope with them when they actually happen.
TIP #7 - TRY TO HAVE A LITTLE FUN
I'm saying "try" because we all know how difficult it can be traveling with a toddler. But in my experience, it's more fun for everyone when we don't overreact to Luna's crabbiness. Instead, we listen to music, play sing-a-longs, and make animal noises. It takes a lot of effort but it's also so nice to hear her laugh even when she's feeling super confined in the car.
TIP #8 - BREAK OUT YOUR LAST RESORT
When you're traveling, there will be times when your little one is inconsolable and impossible to deal with. Don't worry, momma. It's happened to all of us and desperate times call for desperate measures. So put on a movie. Pass over your phone. Give yourself a free pass to do that Bad Mom thing you never thought you'd do. And then bask in the glory of a quiet car ride with a happy toddler :)
How do you survive road trips with your babes? Do you have any extra tips to share?? I'd love to hear them in the comments below!
Safe travels and best of luck!
The image(s) featured in this article were captured by Pineland Photography.