Road Tripping With the Wee Ones
Living on an island in Northern Ontario and being far from family and friends in Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa and Montreal means LOTS of lengthy road trips for our family. Also, since we’re in the “North”, taking one’s vehicle is pretty much a necessity when it comes to getting around. Without public transportation like the train, streetcar, bus or subway, our little one has had to get used to the idea of being in her car seat.
At a recent gathering with other parents, we discussed traveling with young children. Our experiences varied from parents whose children could not stand being in the car seat for any length of time to parents whose children didn’t mind the drive at all. One of our friends has taken their ten month old son to several different countries by plane and have found the experience to be positive.
We have been pretty fortunate that Little One actually enjoys road trips. From the moment the vehicle starts to move, she usually falls asleep. We’ve driven to Montreal with her sleeping in the van for seven hours out of the nine hour drive! If she’s not sleeping, she’s either playing with her toys and books, singing or eating.
She’s been a happy and easy-going traveler since we took her home from the hospital. Again, I believe it’s because she really had no choice. Perhaps it’s a little bit to do with her personality, but I don’t think that’s the only reason. To go anywhere on the Island, she has to go in her car seat. This said, who knows whether she’ll always be a good traveler. She’s only nineteen months old. Things could change once she gets older.
Let’s face it. Not all children like being strapped in their car seats in a vehicle for hours. Not all parents like taking road trips either. How to cope with long drives to visit family and friends?
Because little ones need to run around and use up all their energy, breaking the trip up into segments sometimes works. If there is no rush to get to one’s destination, little breaks to get out and stretch are a good idea. Perhaps stopping somewhere to have a picnic lunch or stopping at an attraction (a park, museum, or petting zoo) might break down the monotony of the drive.
Cutting down the drive is great for Mom and Dad too. The bathroom breaks, coffee breaks and just being able to stretch your legs are not only necessary, but it relieves the driver (and passengers) from that cooped up feeling one can get after being in a vehicle for hours upon hours.
Bringing CDs with music that your children like is also a good way to keep them entertained. Singing along to the music is fun for everyone. I know, I know…How many times can a parent tolerate hearing “The Wheels on the Bus” or “Baby Beluga”, right?
Change things up and play games like “I Spy”. A favourite of ours when I was a child going on road trips to Florida or New York with my parents and brothers is the “Yes/No” game. My father would ask us questions and we would have to answer without using the words “yes” or “no”. It’s a great way for kids to practice creative answers. This game works well for school aged children.
I always pack my “magic bag” of treats. Even if we’re just going to the doctor’s office or running errands, I have my special bag. In it, I carry a few of Little One’s favourite books and toys. Non-noisy toys are preferable. It keeps busy hands occupied and engaged for a while.
Healthy snacks come in handy too. In Little One’s insulated food bag, we carry fruit, yogurt melts, rice crackers, and a few other items. We also take along a sippy cup of milk and a sippy cup of watered down juice (she gets one part apple juice to eight parts water).
We don’t have a DVD player in our van, but many of our friends do. If your children enjoy watching TV, a movie or favourite kids’ show can keep little ones entertained on long road trips too.
Since Summer is here and school is out, it’s family vacation time. Family road trips, camping trips, and trips to the cottage on the lake are in full swing. Hope you enjoy your time road tripping with your little ones this summer. Have fun on your adventures with the family.
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