Car Travel With A Toddler

By Charles Hopkins Published 07/6/2007 | Travel

It's that time of the year again; time to pack the car till it's bursting, grab the sun hats and beach toys and hit the open road. Summer vacation is a great time to make family memories but if you have toddlers in tow, you may be dreading it as much as you are looking forward to it. Here are some tips to make everyone more relaxed and comfortable:

Involve your child before the trip

Talk with your toddler about taking the trip, show them pictures of where you will be visiting and explain how long it will take to get there. For example, "we will be at Grandma's place in two sleeps". Make a map of the route and keep your child updated with a colored marker of where you are.

Keep them entertained

Our parents never had it so good. Portable DVD players work like magic. Pack up their favorite DVDs and rent or buy some new ones for trip. Other ways to keep the little ones amused is to pack some new (non-noisy) age appropriate toys that can be used in the car. Spread them out as surprises for longer trips.

Keep snacks and juice at hand

A pit stop may not be for a while and your child is hungry, what to do? Make sure you have brought a cooler with healthy snacks and juice to nibble on along the way. Access to finger foods your toddler enjoys can save time, money and a tantrum or two!

Keep carsickness at bay

Looking out the window can help prevent motion sickness so engage your child with what is going on outside if they are feeling queasy. It will help your child's brain register that the body is moving and help nausea. Frequent snacks and staying hydrated will also help. If your child is really prone to carsickness, speak to your doctor about possible remedies.

Drive while they sleep

Try to schedule car trips during your toddler's nap or regular sleep time, make sure to bring their favorite blanket or teddy to help settle them. It will make time go much faster for them and will be down time for you. Some parents even plan long drives for overnight. The only problem with this is that your toddler will arrive refreshed but you will not!

Take many rest stops

You must take your cue from your child and go at their pace, not yours. Stop at places where your toddler can run and get some exercise and burn off pent up energy. Get take out food and visit a park instead of going to a sit down restaurant. This will save some time and let them run and play for a while.

Have fun!

Use the drive time to bond as a family and as a learning experience. Ease up on schedules and getting to places on time. Your toddler may be unsettled at first but will take their cue from you. Set a good example and relax. Most of all, do not forget to have fun and "enjoy the ride!"