So you're planning a Thanksgiving family road trip? Although you know it will be worth it, and your family's psyched, you may have the jitters about traveling with toddlers.
I get it! A road trip with my three-year-old and baby is crazier than a Miley Cyrus concert, but we do what we have to do to be with family. If they only knew, right? However, there are some ways to make it easier. These road trips don't have to be all stress and chaos. They could be one of those family activities you look forward to - especially when it involves eating pumpkin pie and turkey!
So check out these 5 ways to make traveling for Thanksgiving easy and painless because road trips should loads of family fun!
1. Map out fun stops along the way
A big part of any family activity is planning. So consider mapping out places you'll stay overnight (if it's a long trip). You'll also want to plan some fun stops along the way. If your kids are anything like mine, they're not going to stay in the car for more than a couple of hours at a time.
So before you leave for your family adventure, map out a few fun kid-friendly destinations where you can get out and stretch your legs. Your munchkins will appreciate the pit stop. You could even plan something big like Chuck E. Cheese if you have the time and are into that sort of thing.
Or you might choose shorter stops, like parks or the biggest ball of twine. On one of our family road trips, we visited a store that looked like the outdoors. Inside there were rivers, fake trees, stuffed deer, bears, and more. We fed some fish, used the bathroom, and walked around in amazement.
My little boogers were entertained, and so was I. Plus, we didn't even have to pay a dime. We took in the scenery and left empty-handed. And after this extravaganza, our previously rambunctious three-year-old passed out for two full hours of driving bliss.
2. Bring a porta potty (not that kind of porta potty)
If you have a young kid, it's no mystery that they need to pee all the time. Just today I picked up my son from daycare, and after two minutes on the road, he said he had to go. What can you do?
I've had my kiddo relieve himself behind bushes and in the woods on more than one occasion. Recently, I met a mother who gave me a brilliant idea. She keeps a little potty in her car. You should have seen my eyes after she dispelled this magical mommy advice. Why didn’t I think of that?
For those long family road trips, you might want to put one of those suckers in your car. It could save you time and embarrassment. Just remember to pour it out, or you'll have an even bigger mess on your hands.
3. Play games - that take a lot of time
When I was growing up, one of my favorite memories on road trips was playing License Plate Bingo. Conveniently, there are activity packs you can buy that are all based on road games. License Plate Bingois the one kit that comes to mind.
But you can also playI Spy, or another one of my favorites is the Alphabet Sign Game. You begin by looking for signs with the letter A in them. Then B, C, and so on.
Okay, it sounds a little redundant, but it will keep your little rascals entertained for at least an hour. When they get through the whole alphabet (they might be on Z for a while), make them start over again. And if you're feeling ambitious, you can join in too. After all, family games could make the time pass and prevent some boredom.
3. Pack snacks, lots of snacks
Not only do kids wiz a lot, but they also eat all of the time. But some of them nibble like rabbits - frequent mini meals. So consider hunkering down on a bunch of healthy snacks when you're going on a road trip.
I load up baby food jars since I have a zillion of them. I stack them with goldfish, fruit, and different types of cereal. Then when my kiddo starts to get fussy, I hand him a snack jar. Meltdown diverted.
4. Bring toys they've never seen
I wrote in my previous post What to Fly with to Keep Your Little One Entertainedabout bringing all different types of toys. And I'm talking toys that your kiddo has never seen. Before going on a trip, I hit the dollar store.
You can buy figurines, crayons, coloring books, stickers… I'll load that cart up with anything that will entertain my little rascal for a while. Then I hide them in his rocket Luvabubbackpack until we go on the trip.
I don't even hand them out all together but rather in one by one in increments. Oh, you're bored of dinosaurs, now here's a coloring book. You’re finished coloring, here’s some putty, and so on. I also try to make sure to save half of the toys for the way back home.
So if you're planning to hit the road this Thanksgiving, tykes and all, it doesn't have to be scarier than Leprechaun 3. There are ways to make family traveling more comfortable.
Sure, traveling with toddlers is probably a bit different than taking a college road trip. You might be jamming to The Wigglesopposed to rocking out to Usher. And you have to do some extra planning in addition to throwing some clothes in a suitcase. (Don't forget the children's backpack.) But the Thanksgiving family memories will be worth it. And remember to pack some turkey sandwiches for the ride home.
So are we there yet? Oh, I forgot, you may want to invest in some earplugs for that too. Happy travels!