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Last weekend we drove from Strasbourg to Bourges, in the middle of France, for a weekend getaway. It’s a 6 hour drive, without stops. This easily turned into an 8-9 hour journey with the baby. We had to get creative to keep our energetic toddler occupied during the drive. Hopefully these survival tips help you on your next road trip!
- Plan the driving around nap time. Avoid stopping if possible. It worked best for us to leave about an hour before Andrew would normally fall asleep. Even if he’s sleeping soundly, if we stop the car, he’ll wake up. Try to have everything you need ready for that long stretch of driving.
- Travel during the day if possible. Andrew’s normally pretty happy to be in the car and look out the window or in the mirror at himself. If it’s dark outside, he can’t see very much and can get frustrated pretty quickly.
- Take strategic breaks. We planned our main stop to have a late lunch. This way there were less people at the restaurant, and we could take our time eating. After lunch, we let Andrew run around and climb all over the place to wear himself out a little.
- Bring along some interactive or musical books. Andrew loves them! He could only play with them a little on this trip because it gets dark so early now.
- Sing songs. My champion husband sang “The Wheels on the Bus” on repeat for over 45 minutes on the way home! To make it more fun you can alternate verses with your partner and sing it in a funny voice. Unfortunately, we realized that Andrew is NOT a fan of NPR podcasts or any Spotify playlist.
- Bring snacks. I am normally not one who turns to food to keep baby happy, but long road trips are the exception. I like bringing healthier snacks that don’t make too much of a mess. One of our favorites is blueberry mini muffins. Make sure the snack is something you’re comfortable with your child eating independently.
- Have the diaper bag packed and ready to grab for your pit stops. Even though you packed baby items in the luggage, you don’t want to have to dig around the car at a gas station. We always travel with our SkipHop diaper bag and on the go changing station. The small “diaper bag” holds diapers and wipes and even folds out into its own changing mat. What a life saver! You can find both items on the SkipHop website.
- In a desperate moment when Andrew threw all his toys on the floor and was getting really frustrated, we opened and closed the sunroof cover over and over. That was a solid 30 minutes of entertainment!
- Be prepared to sit in the backseat. In the final stretch of our trip, he was fed up with being restrained in the car seat. Nothing I could do from the front passenger seat would help. So we decided to take a break, stretch our legs, and rearrange the luggage so I could sit next to Andrew. He was much happier to have someone right there to entertain him.
- Bring earplugs to block out the crying. Just kidding!
Gone are the days of driving long stretches listening to music (or sitting in silence). But here we are in the days of taking road trips and showing fun new places to our sweet baby boy. So, try to stay calm during the frustrating moments and remember that the potentially difficult drive is worth the destination. And hopefully by the time you arrive, your little one will be worn out and sleep like a baby. Happy travels!
What are your favorite tips to surviving a road trip with kids? Do you have any memorable melt down moments? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!