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Road Tripping With the Wee Ones

5 July 2010 25 Comments

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.

Contest! Win a Twin Pack of BornFree Eco-Friendly Recyclable Bottles and a Twin Pack of nipples. Just leave a comment telling us one thing moms & dads should bring on road trips. If you “Like” this post or click “Share on Facebook” leave a bonus entry telling us you’ve done so (“I shared!”). Good luck!



  • sue said:

    should bring a dvd player :)

    Also should bring a bag of prizes for your car games. When you take a bathroom break, play a little game of something, like a treasure hunt, I spy, bring a kids bowling ball set and have a little game somewhere on the path. Then the kids get a prize for 1st, 2nd, 3rd place and so on depending on the # of kids and they prize will keep them occupied for the next hour or so.

    Also water guns, its just water and it will dry so let them get out and when you find a open area and run.

  • sue said:

    I liked on facebook as well

  • Miriam W said:

    We also bring many kids CDs as I have found that my four year old and my 10 month old both love the same music!

  • Erinn Williams said:

    Parents should bring their imagination. That’s all you need for a fun road trip with the kiddos!

    I ‘liked’ on Facebook :)

  • Jody said:

    I too live in Northern Ontario and just got home from a trip to the big city with a 5 month old and let me tell you the vehicle was packed with jumperoos and play mats and quiet toys and loud toys but my little suprised me yet again and slept the entire way there, the entire way back and even let me shop to my heart’s content. I think if we as parents keep our cool as we are travelling and try not to let the many stresses get to us, then our babes will pick up the mellow vibe and remain content too!

  • brittany said:

    i live in revelstoke,bc we dont go on many car trips i only have 8 weeks left until my baby girl is ready to be born so car trips are not happening right now but when we do we bring kids cds and a dvd player and the boys love it.

  • brittany said:

    I ‘liked’ on Facebook

  • RoxanneS said:

    My family and I live in a little town in the Kootenay/Boundary area. In the last 18 month we have done alot of traveling to Vancouver to take the baby to the Childrens Hospital (BCCH). For this 7 hours trip one way we generally take a bottle or three, favorite toys, and a mirror (baby loves looking in the mirror). I will not say that these objects work all the time, because they dont. I don’t think that every trip can or will be fool proof, but we can try and plan for the best.

  • RoxanneS said:

    I “liked” on Facebook

  • Steph said:

    We can’t leave without our little one’s favourite teething toy. I find being prepared for anything and everything is always good, and we usually don’t have to use half of what we bring:)

    I liked on FB.

  • Mel said:

    I am going to be a new mom , any suggestions for taking little ones on airplanes?

    I ‘liked’ on facebook

  • Clare said:

    An ‘eye-spy’ check list!
    Keeps my daughter busy for ages! Just think up a bunch of stuff you might see on your trip (I often research unusual things that you can see in certain towns) and try to find them!
    Kids love it!

  • melissa said:

    i also suggest a teething toy (for younger tots!).
    i had to buy my little guy another today because we lost his on the weekend.

    i ‘liked and shared on facebook’

  • Clare said:

    I shared! :D

  • kristen said:

    I shared

  • kristen said:

    We bring lots of toys dvd player kids music sippy cups bottles and all that stuff and we have a van so we can switch seats from time to time!!

  • Fan said:

    We take breast pads, water and snacks.

  • John said:

    We make sure to bring Yogurt Melts (made by Gerber). Our daughter loves them. They’re freeze dried yogurt and a lot less messy in the car than regular yogurt. Our daughter is addicted to them! Keeps her quiet and happy for a long time!

    We also bring her favourite toys and books for our long road trips…and a children’s car mirror so we can see her and so she can see herself!She loves playing, talking to herself and looking at herself in the mirror.

  • B's Mom said:

    A playpen/bassinet for naps at the hotel or friends/family’s houses.

  • Melissa said:

    Well we haven’t been on any road trips with our little one yet that was over 3 hours. He did the 3 hours pretty good with a few toys with him.

    To Mel: I took my little on a plane at 3 months…I just made sure he ate going up & coming down. He did really well, he slep most of the time (6 hour flight) Depending on age taking a DVD player works well also to keep them occupied.

  • Chrissy said:

    To Mel:
    A friend of mine has been taking her son on plane rides since he was only a few months old. He’s now a year old and has been on 51 flights. I’ll have to ask her for tips next time I talk to her, but another friend who recently took her kids to England (from Canada) said that she took a bag of toys and took toys out one at a time. Get as much use out of each toy as possible instead of giving the whole bag :)

    When we were kids and traveling to Trinidad and Tobago from Montreal, my Mom would make us carry a little bag with crayons, paper, stickers, etc. It kept us busy on the plane ride. We also brought cards and played Go Fish or Crazy 8s! Of course, this is for school-aged kids.

    When Hubby and I went to the Dominican Republic, there was a couple with a newborn on the same flight as ours. The baby pretty much just nursed and slept the entire flight.

    Sorry for blabbing away here. I just got excited about the whole traveling by plane with baby part! I’m going to call my friend and see if she has any tips :)

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