Road Trip with a Baby/Toddler

Olivia's ped calls her a toddler but I still see her as a tiny baby forever so I feel weird starting to use the 'T' word to describe her already. 

We left on a Tuesday to drive all the way from Minnesota to Kansas which should have been about a 9 or 10 hour drive but I always tack on an extra 2 or 3 hours when it comes to road tripping with her. We're no pros by any means but we've done it plenty of times to have a few helpful pointers in driving long distances with a baby/toddler/baddler. 

The biggest tip? New toys to keep 'em distracted for 20 minutes
Rather than driving straight through we cut the trip in half and spent a night in Des Moines. I made the mistake of splurging on a nice suite for Olivia, myself and her nanny. Mistake? Yes, because now we just want to be back in the hotel and not working and living in the RV. 

I loved it because there was a living room and separate master bedroom.

Olivia loved it because the bathroom door was open where she promptly unrolled the entire roll of toilet paper onto the ground as we brought our luggage in. 

What I didn't love/appreciate was all the modern decor in the room that included glass vases right at baby/toddler/baddler level. We quickly ran around and picked them all up putting them up high on the (sadly not used) mini bar included in the room after Olivia pulled one of them over.  

We safely made it to Kansas the following day after lots of screaming, tears, swearing, lots of "Let It Go", "Do You Wanna Build A Snowman", coffee, almost running out of gas, "dogs" (cows out the window), 0 wrong turns and a very regretted McDonalds trip. I haven't eaten MCDs since May and I got sick from it then and now. The time before that was November 2013 and I got sick then too. More proof that it isn't real food. 

Road Trip Tips!

1. Lots of Distractions
I always bring a new toy and or a couple new books. New snacks are vital as well. Anything that will get her mind off the fact that she's still sitting in the car seat after the umpteenth hour helps. This round I picked up Room on the Broom because I was feeling Halloween-y. 

2. Plenty of Run Around Stops
I would plan on bathroom stops to be at a Target or a Walmart because a) I will never change her in a gas station bathroom and b) there's plenty of space for her to stretch her legs and be distracted. Even if we don't need anything I just go there to walk around and browse. Usually these stops are sudden because at this point she's screaming to get out of the car. Bonus when it has a Starbucks in it!

3. Stop for lunch and dinner at an actual restaurant, not just fast food
Now you're starting to see why it's an extra 2 or 3 hours, huh? Again, just a break from the car. 
Ask to be seated by other babies and kids. Distraction! Anytime we go out to eat and if I see a little one her age I ask the host to seat us next to them a) so Olivia can make googly eyes with them and b) if a tantrum starts I know they won't be as irritated as the two guys there in business suits. 

No car = happy baby/toddler/baddler
4. Load your DVD player/iPad with movies
I downloaded Frozen and a whole season of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on my iPad but she only watched it for maybe 30 minutes. I didn't even get to hear Olaf sing 'Summer' before she had enough. 

5. All schedules are thrown out the window
and be okay with that. Even planning on leaving around her naps and before/after her bedtime it just never works for us. Deal with it. 

6. Don't drive at night
Not to get into a safety thing and to each their own but our family has a very strict 'off the road' by 9 or 10pm rule. No matter where we are, if she's in the car, we get a hotel. 

7. Overpack
You never know when you're going to tack on an extra 5 hours or even a full extra day because of their mood. Or just pick up some extra diapers & clothes on one of your 4 Walmart stops! 

8. Back Seat Buddy
Have someone sit in back to entertain baby. It's easier than having an adult leaning over from the front seat fishing around to find snacks and calm a crier. 

Most importantly, try to relax. I for one hate road trips and having a little one along for the ride makes it that much more stressful. We've gone to Florida and back, to Milwaukee and back twice, and to Oklahoma and back. So far for us it hasn't gotten easier each time but we've survived (so far).  I just wish our next trips weren't through the never-ending midwest each time. Halfway through each trip I swear up and down that I will never do this again and only once did I actually leave my car in another state and opt to fly home because I didn't want to deal with it. 

Happy Travels and wish us luck next week as we hit the road for yet another state! 

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