We’re at the beach!! We’re at the beach!! *Happy Dance*. Okay, never mind that it’s March in Myrtle Beach and no one except the Canadians (and you know who you are!) can handle actually GOING to the beach. It’s still a vacation mindset, and it’s awesome, so work with me here. The boys and I came down to visit Grams and to go to the yearly St. Patty’s day festival down here in North Myrtle Beach. It’s something of a tradition with us at this point. Having family over 4 hours away has taught me a few things about the necessities of traveling with a toddler. So if you’re planning on taking on this mind-altering challenge any time in the near future, you might want to get a pen and write this down.
Tips for Traveling with a Toddler
1 – Timing is everything. If possible, and if your child will sleep in the car, travel during naptime. A sleeping child is a quiet child, and a quiet child doesn’t drive their parents to the point where they are seriously considering throwing said child out the window of a moving car.
2 – Please feed the animals. Whenever your toddler must be in a confined space for any length of time, snacks are an absolute necessity. Make them healthy, make them easy, or make them whatever the heck you want really. Low blood sugar causes crankiness in many kids, and crankiness in kids causes bald spots in parents (from massive amounts of hair pulling).
3 – Grandma’s or bust. Regardless of where you are going, be upbeat. Toddlers are incredibly perceptive, and if you are ticked about having to visit Aunt Matilda for the fourteenth time this year, your toddler will pick up on that mood and often imitate it. They might even let loose with one of those “But Mommy said your pot roast smells like Daddy’s dirty underwear,” type comments that gets everyone in trouble. Skip the pouting and act thrilled instead.
4 – Distraction is key. Interactive toys are great for car rides. Books with lots of colorful pictures are also great. Keep a stack of random toys in the front seat and dole them out at random incriments. Bring along kid friendly CDs to play in the car. Nothing can aggravate a toddler more than playing ESPN radio for hours on end. Doesn’t make Mommy too happy either (just ask my husband).
5 – Stick to the schedule. Chances are your little guy or gal is used to eating at certain times, napping at certain times, going to bed at certain times. Traveling means that a good bit of this schedule will be disrupted, but stick to what aspects you can, whenever you can. If your toddler has a bath before bed every night, give them a bath, or at least a rubdown with a washcloth before bed whenever you can. Bring a few favorite toys or books. New can be fun, but completely different is often scary for toddlers.
For example, when we travel I keep two bags in the front seat. One is full of toys that I can pass back to Alex whenever he gets bored. The other is full of not too messy snacks to be dispensed the same way. We bring along Tigger (stuffed Tigger that Alex sleeps with every night) and Alex picks out 4 to 5 books to take along before we leave. We put him down for naps and down for the night as close to the same times as possible and he is generally pretty happy while traveling. Generally. Well, at least we haven’t had to throw him out the car window yet.