Wednesday, June 4, 2014

tips for traveling with a toddler

For pretty much my whole life I have been a traveler -moving from one country to the next, traveling from one place to another. Always some where to go, always people to see and things to do. Granted I'm not one of those people who travel 432, 234,738 miles a year, but I do go places. Having a baby hasn't changed that.

Before Emerson was born we traveled a lot and went on some big trips. While we haven't taken any big trips [and by that I mean airplane rides] since Emerson's birth, we have made numerous trips in the car to visit family in a number of different states. 

Now that Emerson is a bit older and doesn't fall asleep as soon as the car starts moving I have figured out ways to help make the trip as pleasant as possible for everyone involved as well as some other things to make the whole trip go more smoothly.

- Make a packing list. Write out what you need to pack for your trip on a piece of paper. Make it detailed. And make a list for every one who will be going on the trip. [I find having lists are a very good way to insure that you don't forget anything you need]. I recommend trying to start your list a few days [or a week] before you will actually be packing up and going on your trip, that way you can look over it and add to it if need be. I came across this super cute [free] packing list printable the other week and I am going to try it out for our next trip. If you aren't too keen on writing your list out this might be just what you need. 

- Pack food and snacks. Even though I know we will have food once we get to where we are going [or will go the the grocery store once we get there] I find that there are somethings I just need to pack food wise for the munchkin. I usually pack a small cooler with foods I know he likes to eat and put dry goods for him in his backpack for the trip. That way when we stop to eat I can just pull his cooler and bag out and poof, there's his food. In addition to his meals for the road, I also pack a bigger cooler and bag with more food I know he likes and/or is left over and I don't want to be wasted. I always make sure to pack the food in an easily accessible place [like right behind my seat or something] and always on top of other things -who wants smooched bread? 

- Put toys and books in a bag that is easily accessible. I pick out some of his favorite books and a few toys I know he likes that will also travel well [read: not get lost easily]. I have found that toys that sing or talk are some of his favorites to play with in the car. I make sure to keep this bag within arms reach so that if he needs some new entertainment during the trip I can just reach behind me and pull something out of the bag.

- Get a new book or toy. I've never done this, but have heard it is [or can be] a sanity saver. I'm considering getting a new book for him when we embark on our 12 hour drive to the beach later on this summer... But we'll see... Thoughts on this one?

- Bring along a mini DVD player and a stack of DVDs [or another device that can play movies -I hear iPads are pretty popular for this these days :]. When we were visiting my in-laws in March my mother-in-law asked me if we had a portable DVD player, we didn't, so she found theirs and gave it to us for Emerson. And oh, I am so glad she did. On our way home it provided peace for the last bit of our drive and on our next trip it again provided peace and calm for us all. Just make sure to bring along shows or movies your munchkin likes. Emerson doesn't watch a ton of shows, so I just went to our library and picked out a bunch of different baby/toddler shows I knew of from my nannying years and my nieces and nephews younger years. Sanity saver. And E loved watching the shows! It was a nice little treat for him. *if you do have a travel DVD player, check your library for kids shows -often times they have them for you to borrow for free!

- Pack clothes for the munchkin in his own bag. This will help you keep track of what you are packing for him and make it easy to get to on the trip and once you've arrived. You won't have to sort through your own clothes and things to get to his.

- Pack extras [like 2-3 sets (at least) of extras]. When packing for a toddler you really need to pack extras of everything because chances are the one time you don't pack an extra set of clothes/socks/jacket .... will be the one time you really need it. Take for example the time we were visiting Landon's family. I was in the kitchen and Landon and his dad were in the living area, which is where Emerson also happened to be. They told me they 'had him.' After a few minutes or so I asked where Emerson was [it's habit, I just can't help myself...] and they looked around and then at each other and then I saw Emerson dumping Boady's bowl of water out on him and onto the floor. Nice. I took him and changed him from head to toe at which point I realized I had already used two of his other extra outfits and the last one I had was missing a sock and a jacket [and it was winter and very cold...]. Thankfully we were able to do laundry since we were at my in-laws, but next time I know I just need to pack that extra extra set of clothes. Typically I pack a weeks worth of extras for him because well, you just never know when there will be a blow out, food spill, dumping of the dog's water bowl, vomit, or some other such thing that comes along with toddlers. So, don't skimp: pack extras and extras! The good thing about this one is that toddler clothes and shoes are tiny, so it's no big thing to pack extras. :)

- Pack things you think you might not need but aren't sure about [aka: be prepared]. Say for example it's Spring time and you are going on a trip. The weather's been pretty nice and should stay that way. You throw in one jacket for your munchkin and call it good. Don't do that. Take one for each day [or at least three ... obviously depending on the length of your trip will help you determine the number of jackets/shorts/be what it may item...]. We went on a trip recently and I just took two measly jackets for the week. Big mistake. One got dirty on the ride there, the other the next day. And it was cold, jacket wearing weather. Be prepared. Being overly prepared never hurt anyone.

Anyhow. I'll stop there for now. Those are some of the biggest things for me when it comes to traveling with a toddler [or baby for that matter, though for a baby there are additional things to take along, just in case... but we're not talking about babies here today so...]. What are some of the things that you find helpful when traveling with a toddler? What tips/tricks/advice do you have? Please do share any and all ideas!

From Here to EternityWords About Waverly
my delicious adventure Photobucket
My Delicious Adventure                  The Life Of Faith
Running From The LawThe Olive Tree

May 8:          Taming the Temper Tantrums
May 15:        Weaning from Breastfeeding or From Formula to Cow’s Milk 
May 22:        Dealing with Mommy Guilt
May 29:        When People Share Their Opinions and How to Lovingly Handle it
June 5:         Traveling with your Toddler
June 12:       How to get your toddler to eat their veggies…or their food at all
June 19:       How to make time to blog in the busyness of motherhood
June 26:       Bedtime Battles (nap or bedtime)


Rachel Lynn said...

Well since my baby isn't even born yet...but this seems like a great list I'll have to keep in mind!

KelseyB said...

Okay, seriously, you are a genius with this print out packing list!! I am over here making list after list days in advance of a road trip, when I could just print one out! haha! Great tips.

Courtney B said...

What is that book in the second to last picture? I NEED to get that for Mia!
And YES! Get new books for that long drive! I have a stack of books in Mia's closet that she's never seen. Anytime we road trip I grab a few and introduce them to her throughout the trip. Flap books keep her interested the longest!

Ashley @ Words About Waverly said...

Love a list!!! :). Thanks for sharing, mama!!!

Sara McCarty said...

Great tips! I'm a big believer in snacks and DVDs too!

Danielle said...

Good call on the new toy thing. My little guy cycles through his well, but something new can hold his attention for quite an impressive amount of time. And the beauty of it is that it can be something "new" like... an empty box of cereal :)