We just came back from our first vacation as a family of four and it was fabuylous despite my fears. Pouring rain and icy runs put a damper on skiing, but the kids were awesome and we had so much fun that any fears of not being able to travel as easily as a family of four have been diminished…at least until our next trip from hell.
Since roadtrips with a 22 month old and 6 week old can be a little daunting, I thought I’d share some tricks worked for us.
1. Bring Backup
We brought Grandma, and not only did the extra set of hands leave us free to do things other than hold on to kids, she babysat – letting Rob and I have some quality us time skiing – a rarity since Max was born! Max loved having company in the backseat, and I think my mom had a great time hanging out with her grandkids!
2. Fresh Air Breaks
It is amazing what a bit of fresh air can do for both Freya and Max. On our way home, Max had a solid run about before we got in the car. This made it much more easier for him to sit for a few hours. On both
our way to Sugarbush, and our way back, we stopped in Burlington to stretch our legs and climb on some rocks. Having had his run about, Max was much more happy to sit in his car seat for a little while.
3. Unlimited Snacks/Pack a bottle
When you are heading to a new destination, you never know what you will find on the road, or when your lil ones are going to decide they need to eat. For toddlers snacks are not only for rumbling tummies but provide a little bit of entertainment. If you are breastfeeding, pumping a bottle and having it ready to go means that you don’t have to stop everytime your baby wants a feed and that anyone in the backseat can feed her/him a bottle – oh…an unlimited supply of soothers also helps 🙂
4. The Window
The outside world is a pretty magical place for an almost two year old. Bridges and animals, trucks and colours. Max spent hours looking excitedly at trucks and animals, trains and construction equipment. With the odd bit of encouragement from Mom, Dad and Grandma (hey Max check out the Yellow Truck, Max, do you see the “choo-choo” we had a happy toddler exclaiming “truck” and “oh wow” for a good part of our 5 hour drive. Don’t feel like you need an IPad or some kind of video thing….it is pretty amazing just looking at the world passing by….well, at least for a few hours.
5. A new or forgotten toy/activity
Since Grandma came, Max was a little spoiled with a new toy. This one was a Melissa and Doug “Beads in the Box“. Max needed a little help from Grandma, but, was happy as could be trying to thread the beads and then undo them. Of course, you don’t want to run out and buy a new toy for every trip, but, I imagine if you look around, you’ll have a few forgotten favourites that will bring smiles and entertainment for the car ride.
6. They want what you’ve got.
Right now Max is going through a phase where he wants to eat with adult cutlery, play with a “real” hammer, and drink “coffee” from a coffee cup. When we stopped in Burlington for coffee I knew that he would not be happy sipping from his sippy cup while we had our cardboard coffee cups. I asked for an extra cup at the store, filled it with water, and Max happily drank his “coffee” like mom, dad and grandma.
When you get where you are going, I can’t recommend a kitchenette strongly enough. You can make meals at your pleasure, grab snacks from the fridge, and if your kid decides to run around the kitchen spitting milk and laughing you won’t be kicked out, or receive judging stares. You can cook healthy meals, and eat breakfast in your PJs. Not to mention the money you save not eating out every meal….
8. Extra Space
At about 2AM Freya likes to groan, and this groaning lasts until morning…not to mention she is still feeding about every two hours. I’m not one of those moms who can expertly feed in the dark without milk spraying Freya’s eyes and across the room, so I often need to turn on the light. With a two year old sleeping in the room, who would in all likelihood wake up, and not go back to sleep, this is likely a combination for a miserable trip. We had a suite with a pull out couch. Max slept with my mom in the living area on a pull out couch, while we had a separate room. This meant that Max wasn’t woken up by Freya’s escapades and we had a happy toddler. If you don’t have “backup”, and you have a baby who is still up frequently, it may be worth considering a bit larger of a suite so that one parent can sleep with the toddler while the other can look after the baby so only half the family is sleep deprived.
Do you have any roadtripping hints that work for you?