Single Mom Adventures: Road Trip Tips with Toddlers

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Since the girls and I went on our 7+ hour road trip last month, I thought I’d share some of my tips to keep your parental sanity in tact, the kiddos happy and family adventures continuing. Road tripping with little people, especially when driving solo (like no other adult) can be stressful! You’re trying to pay attention to the traffic, the directions, have people demanding things from you (juice! Movie! Snacks!) … plus it’s just a super long drive.

First things first - know where you’re going. I used roadtrippers.com to map out my drive and take a look at about how long it would take to get there, which areas we’d drive through, and get a general idea of things that we’d find along our drive. The site is neat because you can see restaurants, points of interest, gas stations, places to stay, etc. all along your preferred route. I was able to find a route that didn’t tack on too much time to our trip, and allowed us to pit stop in a fun place with lots of stuff to do - even if it was a short stop mid-trip!

Another big thing is to just know your kids. You know what they can tolerate and what they can’t. What snacks they like, movies, etc. I packed some snack favorites, made sure my potty-training daughters were wearing a pull up on the long drive, had their favorite movies and some new toys for them to fiddle around with. It wasn’t perfect, I won’t lie. The last 1.5 hour of the trip was trying. They were over it, I was over and we just wanted to all get out and stretch our legs. I did have to resort to my final-final bribe and that’s handing a cell phone over to them to watch Netflix. But that’s my last resort and I only had to use it once for about 30 minutes.

Pack a go-to back. I used a Thirty One brand organizing tote and made sure to have wipes, extra clothes for the girls, my wallet, snacks, etc. in the front seat with me. It was nice having everything at arms reach and when we did make a pit stop I just slung the bag over my shoulder for whatever adventure we went on.

Plan a stop … or several. Using roadtrippers.com, I did plan a “bigger” stop mid-way through our drive which from Chicago to northern MN put us in Wisconsin Dells. The Dells is a mega-resort area with TONS of family stuff to do. It was a perfect place for us to find some entertainment, stretch our legs and grab some food and then get back on the road. In the Dells we visited the Wisconsin Deer Park. It’s a park that has “tame” deer that roam around the property which you can feed from your hand! There are also goats, chickens, elk and tons of other animals too. It was the perfect toddler activity because they could interact with the animals, walk around, have lots to see.

Getting our wiggles out on our stop at the Dells!
And that put me at my final tip - plan nap time. Toddlers still need lots of sleep. And I knew that my kiddos could stay up and entertained for the first leg of the trip. So if we could make it to the Dells, do our activity and grab lunch, then by the time we hit our road again they’d be primed up for a snooze fest. And I was right! They zonked out for about an hour which was peace and quiet time for mom and much needed rest for the kiddos.

What are your favorite road trip tips with kids? I’d love to hear them!

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