We just got back from our 7+ hour road trip to the beach in South Carolina. Before the trip, I was a little anxious about traveling with two 4-year-olds especially in the time of Covid when we would be limiting stops and bathroom breaks. The car trip with toddlers went way better than I anticipated so I wanted to share a few things that worked well for us. Below are my 6 tips:
1. Timing is essential
Whether you can plan around naps or leave early to get some sleep out of the kiddos, do it! My twins don’t nap anymore so we left early in the morning (5:00 am) to kill some time while it was still dark. They didn’t end up sleeping because they were too excited but they were also quiet and peaceful for about an hour while the sun came up and I sipped a big cup of coffee. Another big bonus to leaving early = quiet roads and beating the morning rush.
2. Plan in advance to use snacks & meals as activities
Because we were traveling during the time of Covid, I didn’t want to make any unnecessary stops. We packed all of our meals to eat in the car. This included breakfast & lunch on the way to the beach and lunch & dinner on the way home. I packed a cooler with all of the necessities the night before. Note: I only packed items that were easy to eat and mess-free! It ended up being a savior because eating in the car used up a significant amount of travel time. While they ate, we played on an audiobook and zoned out.
Snacks are also a fun way to use up time! Hint: Ring Pops are a special snack for travel and they are a great time-killer
3. Start screen-free
I’m not sure about your kiddos but mine turn into monsters when they watch too much screen-time so I knew that I wanted to start screen-free and only use movies during emergencies. I made a few purchases on Amazon and did a Target pick-up run before our trip to stock up on some new activities.
Hint: M&M also got these travel lap pads as a present for their birthday which came in handy for activities & eating!
Here are the activities that worked well for us:
- Sticker books
- Letter books
- Make cereal necklaces with pipe cleaners
- Imagine Ink coloring books
- Sticky notes
- Silly Putty
- Magna Doodle
- M&M each packed a small backpack with their own toys
- Play kids music – here is a link to our favorite playlist
- Audio books – here is a link to our favorite playlist
I also wrapped presents a few presents (2 for each leg of the trip) and those were a nice surprise when we needed a little pick-me-up. An example of one present was a book with sound.
4. Use Screen Time if Needed
Our screen time is limited at home but traveling is the exception to the rule. I have no problem breaking out a movie or an iPad when everyone needs a break. This is the iPad case & headphones that work well for us. I also stocked up on a few new family-friendly movies to play and keep them excited.
5. Prepare in advance for bathroom breaks
Again because of Covid, I wanted to avoid M&M using public bathrooms so I brought our small potty with us and set up a station in the back of the car. Our bathroom station included: this potty, these bags for easy disposal, wipes, hand sanitizer and a change of clothes.
This way we only needed to stop for gas. During the gas stop, the adults went inside to use that bathroom and stock up on any essentials. Meanwhile, we got the kids out of their car seats to stretch and use the potty in the trunk.
6. Remember to plan for the Return trip
I almost forgot to plan out our return trip because I was so focused on getting out of the door. However, the night before we left I spent some time thinking through the schedule and getting a little bag packed and stashed in the back. I pulled out the bag on the way home and it was a savior. It had a pre-packed bag of snacks and new activities to have handy.
Happy travels! If you want more information, you can read about our beach vacation last year in this blog post!