By Guest Blogger Ashlee Carson
Let’s be honest, the average toddler can be a terror when traveling in the car. They throw food, kick the back of the seat, have emotional meltdowns and possess an unbelievable ability to weaponize random objects. This means any road trip can quickly turn into an all-out war zone unless you come prepared.
Luckily, with careful planning, you can win the war! Whether you’re planning a road trip to Myrtle Beach or your next favorite beach destination, we’ve outlined a few simple things to do to make sure our favorite tiny humans stay happy and safe along the way.
1. Choose the right car seat
If your toddler is still in a rear-facing car seat, make sure you get one with a back that reclines. Sit them at the angle that’s most comfortable for watching movies.
Some seats now even come with a removable, full-body support that’s designed to help toddlers feel cozy and secure when traveling.
2. Pack light
Don’t bring more stuff than necessary on your road trip! The more things you bring, the more likely your little one will want to play with them (and then inevitably break or lose them).
Instead, stick to bringing only one or two very special toys that are perfect for car rides. Because kids love routine, try packing their favorite stuffed animal and blanket. It’s also not a bad idea to pack a few extra toys that are new and completely unfamiliar, which is even more exciting for them.
3. Bring plenty of low-sugar snacks
When our tiny humans are hungry, they become restless and irritable, which leads them to become disruptive while traveling in the car. Giving them sugar-laced snacks will only add fuel to the fire and should be avoided at all costs!
Instead, when your toddler gets hungry during your road trip, give them a snack cup filled with veggies straws or cheerios. Both are low in sugar and can serve a dual-purpose as a snack for parents as well.
4. Keep them occupied
Keeping your toddler occupied is going to be the key to the success of any road trip. Bringing an iPad/tablet so your little one can watch their favorite shows can be your saving grace. But, if not balanced correctly, it can end up being your worst enemy.
To make sure your toddler doesn’t exceed the amount of screen time you feel comfortable with, you can mix it up by packing a few of their favorite books and toys to help keep them entertained and occupied.
5. Bring a first-aid kit
One of the first rules of road trips with toddlers is to always have a first-aid kit handy. Accidents will happen when traveling, no matter how careful you are. Here’s a quick list of essentials to include in your toddler-friendly first-aid kit:
- Band-aids (Bonus: Get ones with your toddler’s favorite cartoon characters)
- Small scissors
- Alcohol wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Digital Thermometer
- Nasal suction device (a.k.a snot sucker) and Saline spray
6. Prepare for roadside emergencies
You never know what can happen while you’re on the road. Getting a flat tire or a cracked windshield from a flying rock is never out of the realm of possibilities. Before you hit the road, it’s always a good idea to inspect your spare tire (and make sure you have one in the first place), pack a flashlight and bring along a few roadside flares.
Also, make sure your phone is fully charged before you leave, just in case you don’t have any way of charging it while you’re driving.
7. Keep your cool
Having patience during a road trip with your toddler is going to be critical. When (not if) they have an emotional meltdown in the car, you need to be able to take control of the situation while staying focused on the road.
Obviously, this can be easier said than done. If your toddler is having an “episode” while you’re driving, remain calm and pull over to the side of the road — or even better — at a nearby rest stop.
And remember, have fun and enjoy your time! Our little ones aren’t little forever and a road trip can become an amazing experience that you’ll never forget. All it takes is a little planning and a lot of patience.
[Related reading: Top 15 Hacks for Bringing a Baby to the Beach]
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