Ten Tips for Traveling with Toddlers

Among other things, Micah and I want to invent what we’re calling the Limo Window for Minivans (the title is a work-in-progress.)  It’s pretty much this: kids are melting down, so you press a button and a soundproof window rolls up, thus allowing you to monitor your children’s behavior without having to actually hear it.  Genius, I know.  But until we get the patent and cut down manufacturing costs (yes, we watch a lot of Shark Tank) this will have to do.

Ten Tips for Traveling with Toddlers:

1.  Start your road trip an hour before nap time.  Drive for an hour while keeping them awake by whatever means necessary/legal, then get out and feed them a carb-heavy snack.  Then get back in the car and wait for the carb-coma to kick in.  They will then sleep 2-3 hours, and before you know it, you will have driven a total of 4 hours before they even know it.

2.  Keep them informed of the itinerary.  But not too far in advance, because then they will hound you incessantly.  I find a 30 minute heads-up is within their scope of understanding.  Then they will only ask you “Are we there yet” 1,800 times (assuming a 1:1 ratio of questions per second).  But if that’s too much for you, then I suggest sticking with a real-time narration.

3.  Maintain a calm voice at all times.  The flight attendant who sounds all panicky over the intercom during turbulence or yells at the passengers to keep their hands to themselves only invites a freak-out amongst passengers.  And you don’t want a toddler freak-out while on the highway.

4.  Just breath.

5. Snacks are your best ally.  Use them as motivation for endurance (i.e. if you are able to sit quietly for another 10 minutes, we will stop and get a snack.)  But make sure that snack isn’t a cake pop, because they melt in the Southern humidity.  But you won’t know that until you pull it out of the bag and it falls off the stick and onto the dirt, rendering it inedible (even to Caramia, who is notorious for eating things off of the street.  Like gum.  And rock salt.  And almost a cigarette butt.)

6.  Save the best for last.  In our case, that’s a movie.  So you don’t want to START your trip with that, because you won’t be able to top it.  No, wait until the last 78 minutes to put on a 78 minute movie.  You’ll be a hero.

7. Just breath.

8. And speaking of hero, this next tip is brought to you by my Hero Hubs: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.  If your children are having a hard time quieting down, then decree a 5 minute scream fest.  That’s right, encourage them to yell as loud as they can.  Over and over and over again.  I promise you, by minute 4 1/2, they’ll be so tired that they will be begging to be quiet. (As written about in Boot Camp Bedtime.)

9. Make pit stops before you’re desperate.  It’s much more enjoyable to exit your vehicle calmly than with a gang of inconsolable little people and having tourists begin to find YOU the most fascinating sight on their trip.  True story.  And the tourists were a bunch of guys in mohawks getting into a volkswagen bus.  Nice.

And most importantly:

10.  Be kind to yourself.  This is no easy task you’ve taken on.  To draw a comparison, my husband went through Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape School during his time in the Marine Corps.  At one point he was deprived of sleep and held in solitary confinement to the sounds of children screaming.  Um, that’s the EXACT definition of a road trip with toddlers.  So pat yourself on the back…you’re not crazy yet, nor have you signed documents betraying your country.

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