Thursday, November 20, 2014

Road Trips with Toddlers

A few weeks ago Austin and I road tripped up to Georgia for a little cousin bonding. We got a late start heading up so we spent the night in Jacksonville to break up the eight hour drive. That ended up doing more harm than good for us- Austin was a restless monster the whole night. The kid needs his own crib, and he will make sure you are well aware of that if you try to get him  to sleep on two couches pushed together. So to my dear best friend Ihla, who put up with the little troll all night, you are truly a saint. And, needless to say, the eight hour drive back home was done in one day.

I don't think you can ever fully prepare for long road trips with toddlers- you just have to be ready for anything, expect anything. Based on what I experienced and wished I had done differently, I put together some tips and tricks for taking on a road trip, alone, with your toddler. I hope you find it helpful!

1. Bring a DVD Player/Laptop: And don't just bring it- prepare the movie before you get on the road. Find a set, secure place to position the laptop, or it'll be sliding back and forth and jumping off the center console with every lane change. God forbid he hears Mickey Mouse but can't see him because the blasted laptop has fallen again. I wish that situation on no one. My laptop's DVD drive has gone kaput, so I ended up relying on iTunes for the Mickey Mouse episodes that I had already downloaded. Luckily Austin didn't notice or seem to mind that he was watching the same two episodes on repeat.

2. Stretch: Every time you stop for gas, get the little one out of the car. Even if it's just for a five minute game of chase in the back of the Waffle House parking lot. It's probably time for a diaper change any way. Tire those baby legs out as much as you can!

3. Pack a variety of snacks and keep the snack bag handy: Pack some new snacks that your little one has never had before. Austin gave me the most reassuring whooaaaaa with each cool, new snack I handed back to him. Then of course some got the this tastes like shit reaction and were hurled back up to the front seat. Obviously pack some favorites in case the new snacks are a bust. If your kid is half as obsessed with bowls as mine is, pack some toddler sized snack bowls. And of course, plenty of sippy cups, because Lord knows he'll tell you the world is ending if he drops his. With your tag team being understaffed, you'll want to just grab a new cup and pour something in it instead of blindly groping around the back seat for the dropped one.

4. Find out if your car seat has the recline feature, and if so, recline that puppy back. Austin takes some of his best naps in the reclined car seat. After each nap, I sat his seat back up so he could watch the other cars and see out the window. He loves that.

5. Of course, there's always a last resort. In my case, I had hit the end of my tether around minute twenty seven of his unrelieved, deafening pleas to be let out of his seat. I unleashed the scariest, most threatening "STOP CRYING" that I honestly didn't know I was capable of. Austin was silent for an hour straight, not one peep. I was, and still am, half ashamed and half amused. Poor little guy. Then we got milkshakes.


Different tricks will work with different kids. Some things that my cousin Katie was able to do for her son didn't stand a chance with Austin. I think your best bet is to expect anything- take all of these tips into consideration, but also you have to know your own kid. And of course, it wouldn't hurt to have a shotgun rider suffering with helping you along the way.

On Monday we'll be doing this all again. Except this time, I'll be in slightly less control and thousands of feet in the air. There's something quite unnerving about the thought of flying alone with a toddler… I keep reminding myself that Juan has already flown alone with Austin a couple times, so it's definitely doable. But come Tuesday, if our names have been added to the No Fly List, we may be requesting a ride home after Thanksgiving.

Happy travels!


  1. Safe, safe travels my baby girl and Austin! Love you both dearly and I'm expecting a call when you arrive, I don't care what time it is!!
    Love, Mommy