Whether you're hitting the road this weekend for a Memorial Day getaway or later in the summer, long-distance driving with kids can be quite the challenge. MomSpeaker Sandra Telep has logged plenty of miles with her kids in the car and has these five tips for parents seatbelting their toddlers in for a warm-weather road trip.
As fantastic as Philly summer happens to be, it’s also a good time to hit the road and check out a new place or visit friends and family. We've packed the kids up into our little hatchback and drove across the great state of Pennsylvania to stay with my family fairly regularly. Over the years we’ve learned a few things to keep our road trips running smoothly.
Here are my 5 tips for family road trips with toddlers
- Pack snacks. We pack a small cooler with drinks and a mix of healthy snacks and treats. It not only saves money but cuts down on stops. Our favorite snacks? Apple slices and peanut butter, hummus and veggies, and animal crackers.
- Have things to do. This can be as simple as a few books for the kids to look through or some songs to sing together. There are a million road games, from the License Plate Game to Road Trip Bingo. When my kids were still too young for most games, they did love pointing out every single cow we saw.
- Make a soundtrack. My partner and I each have our favorite jams on our phones for the rare occasions we get to choose the music. Usually, though, we listen to mixes that my father made for the kids that include all kinds of fun singalong songs. I do get a little fed up with kids' music sometimes, but it keeps them happy – and it’s a vast improvement over the static we listened to for the first six months of each of the kids’ lives. (But seriously, if you have a baby who hates the car, blasting static is like magic!)
- Plan your stops. This we have down to a science. One parent changes a diaper while the other parent does the preschooler potty run. Then we take turns bringing the kids to do errands (Must get coffee!) and taking care of our own potty needs. Nurse the baby and feed the kid. Maybe a couple calisthenics or a two-minute dance party before getting back into the car and we are back on the road. We try to plan around our gas needs and bathroom breaks. Don’t forget to hit the ATM if you need cash for tolls.
- Make some memories. Some of our best conversations with our son have happened in the car, and when he’s an adult I will remember fondly that we had to listen to The Lion King soundtrack on repeat for an entire year. Road trips can be challenging with little ones – but approaching it as an adventure can make it quality time.
What are your favorite road trip tips?
Sandra Telep is a West Philadelphia mom of two. This post is adapted from her blog, West Philly Mama.