The holidays are right around the corner, and to us that means spending hours on the road traveling from one family event to the next and, in some cases, the next and the next. While travel may not have been too much of an issue in the past, now that we will be traveling with three little ones we have to take more time to plan and prepare for our time on the road. We have actually made quite a few road trips since the girls arrived earlier this year and have learned new tricks of the trade each time we set off on a new adventure. Here are a few keys to a successful – and less stressful – family adventure when traveling with babies and toddlers.
1. Pack the Car Early
If you are like me, things get a bit hectic when you are trying to get out the door. We learned early on that it is easier on everyone if we pack the car as much as possible the night before we depart. There are a lot of items that cannot be packed in advance, but it is nice to go ahead and get items like pack and plays, strollers, and baby bags out of the way. This frees up time trying to get the babies and myself ready the next morning and also helps when I walk through the house double checking to make sure we haven’t forgotten anything important.
2. Timing is Everything
We try our best to plan our departure around feedings and play time. After a few unsuccessful attempts which included stopping within 30 minutes of leaving our house and listening to endless cries, we have learned that feeding the girls, letting them play, and then putting them in their car seats at nap time (after they’ve exhausted their energy) is our best method. This usually will buy us several hours on the road before we have to stop again for their diapers/feeding/play time again. On our most recent trip, we actually waited until the girls’ last bottle of the day, changed them into their sleepers while putting them into their car seats, and drove at night while they slept. Ladies, this was AMAZING!! I had such awesome adult conversations with my husband and listened to my choice of music. (Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney radio, but adult time is so good!)
3. Distractions are Your Friend
Our babies aren’t old enough for snacks, but my nieces and nephews are so I know this can be a lifesaver. It is amazing that something as simple as a juice box and crackers can buy so much time on the road. I am looking forward to the days when we can use this tactic, but for now we use other distraction tactics like movies and music. When we cannot schedule our time on the road around naps, we sometimes have to resort to singing, dance parties, and movies. When the fussing starts on the road, my first line of defense is singing songs from our music class at Fiddlesticks! Thank goodness my audience isn’t too picky and they aren’t old enough to laugh at their momma because I cannot carry a tune (nor can my husband . . .), but we have fun singing and the girls typically settle down quickly when they hear the familiar tunes. When the girls have had enough of my singing, we resort to watching a movie; Sing, Moana, and Trolls are the girls’ latest entertainments! But, I am still debating – I am not sure who enjoys the movies more, my husband or our girls!
For more ideas of ways to keep toddlers entertained on the road, check out this post from a fellow triplet mom!
4. Get in the Backseat with Your Babies
The great part about traveling with other adults is having the ability to hop in the backseat with the children. This is a great time to make the most of all the books and toys you packed and bond while you are on the road. A grave mistake is traveling long distances with minimal space; sometimes it’s unavoidable, but if possible, make sure you give yourself the leeway to jump in the back to calm fussy babies while your husband steers the family — or vice versa. In most cases, Momma’s reassuring touch and voice is everything a fussy baby needs, especially when facing backwards, away from their favorites.
5. Pack your Patience
Let’s face it, children and travel can be unpredictable, so be prepared for anything! Crying babies and traffic jams can add to the stress of travel, so add in some extra time for unexpected events. We also pack a cooler of drinks and snacks for the road to prevent unnecessary stops, to save time, and to keep formula cold. Take your time to plan your trip; it will be worth it and will definitely save you stress, tears, and some gray hairs too!
We are gearing up for our next big adventure to Disney in January with my entire family (think National Lampoon’s Family Vacation), so I am planning and preparing for this big triple-sized adventure. On top of these awesome Disney tips, what are some of your travel tips and suggestions?