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We recently took two family road trips with our toddler and preschooler. Our first trip was about seven hours away, and our second one was about four and a half hours away. Both trips went well, and the kids seemed to enjoy their time in the car for the most part.
Here are some tips along with some of the items we brought in the car that helped make the trip go a little smoother.
Road Trip Tips for Traveling with a Toddler and Preschooler
- Bring some empty plastic grocery bags for miscellaneous trash and toss the bags when you stop along the way.
- Keep all the travel toys, stuffed animals, and books in one place in a convenient car organizer.
- Give your preschooler something to write and doodle on. We added this travel tray during our second trip, and our three-year-old loved it. This one is great because it comes with markers that have erasers attached and an extra snap-in-place surface that works great with erasable markers. There is a cupholder and plenty of pockets.
- Eliminate clutter in the car by limiting the number of toys and stuffed animals your children bring. I had our three-year-old pick out one or two small stuffed animals, several books, and two small travel toys she wanted to bring. She enjoyed picking out the stuff she wanted to bring, and this prevented her from asking to bring the whole playroom.
- Keep a package of bottled water in the car to fill up cups as needed.
- Pack some of your kids’ favorite snacks and snack cups.
- Bring a small cooler for any snacks and drinks that need to be kept cool.
- Have some hand sanitizer on hand to use as needed and after filling up the car with gas.
- Bring anything that may help them fall asleep during their usual nap time like a white noise machine, blankets, socks, lullabies, etc…
- Bring a new package of wet wipes to clean hands and messes and a new roll of paper towels for unexpected spills.
- Pack a change of clothes in the diaper bag so you don’t have to unpack the suitcase if you need one.
- Make sure you have a working phone charger in your car and keep your phone charged along the way.
- Load a few shows on the iPad. Whether or not you end up playing shows for your little ones, having a few already downloaded and ready is helpful to have just in case.
- Bring a CD, or download a playlist with some kids’ songs. A new playlist of children’s songs can provide some simple and fun entertainment for the kids.
- Make sure the back seat area gets plenty of air. If there are no vents in the backseat area, consider something like this to make sure the kids don’t get too hot or cold and are comfortable.
- Clean out the car ahead of time and vacuum. Starting a road trip with a clean car can make everyone more comfortable along the way.
- Check the tire tread and look for nails. If needed, schedule an appointment to have the tires rotated, repaired, and/or replaced. Before our most recent trip, we ended up needing to replace a tire that had a nail in it. While I hate to replace a tire, I’d rather do it before leaving than on the side of the road.
- Get the oil changed, clean the windshield, and gas up.
- Place sun shades on the windows to help keep the sun out of your little ones’ eyes.
- Plan on stopping at least every two hours for a restroom break, stretch break, or to eat a meal. Check out Maps ahead of time for places to stop along the way, and keep in mind any long stretches of road where there are no places to stop.
Have a wonderful trip!
What are your favorite road trip tips for traveling with young kids?
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