As many of you know we recently got back from Philadelphia, which is over nine hours away from where we live. For many of our friends that seems like a very long car ride for a small child, but ER is quite the seasoned traveler. When she was only three months old she went on her first road trip from Santa Fe to Denver and then a few months later we drove her from NM to MI. We've made the drive between NM and MI there and back twice and one more time, one way when we moved.
It was a lot easier when she was younger and in the baby carrier. To be honest, she slept most of the time. I don't think we'd have kept on going back and forth by car if she'd been a child who cried and cried in the car. We're also lucky in that, she seems to genuinely like looking out the window and watching the landscape fly by her window. She's quite a backseat commentator, often telling us, "We're going around a curve," or, "Look it's the highway," and even the rather obvious, "I think I see lots of cars!"
We regularly go across town and drive an hour to my mother-in-law's house or an hour and a half to see my parents. Several of my friends have DVD players that they rely on for any ride over an hour. We only just bought one, for the drive to Philly.
What we do carry along with us are:
- Book Bag: Continuously rotating but books like picture dictionaries, Fancy Nancy titles, and Richard Scarry books are favorites. She seems to favor books with lots of little things to look and they keep her occupied for a long time. She once looked at a picture dictionary for ninety minutes straight. I've started using storybooks on CD too, I order them at a good price through Scholastic's Book Clubs.
- Children's Music CDs: The first time we drove from NM to MI a personalized name CD was in heavy rotation. Anytime she got fussy we popped in her Name Your Tune CD she got from Grandma Norma. It's still a favorite as in each song your child will hear her name over and over. They are kind of catchy too, Brad will catch himself singing them from time to time. We also like Putumayo Kid's Caribbean Playground and of course our Laurie Berkner CDs too.
- Quiet Toys: I just posted a review and giveaway, have you entered yet, for Baby Love Blankies on ABC & 123, about her I Spy Bags. That has been a great addition to our collection. It's quiet, portable and never the same twice. I also just got a portable farm felt activity book from Story Time Felts that I'll be reviewing and am excited to let her try. I also bring along another bag of toys that comes out when we're in the hotel room or at our destination on long trips.
- Restaurant Helpers: It's always a good thing to plan ahead; in my trunk I normally keep disposable place mats and bibs, especially on long road trips. The place mats were more of a priority when she was just beginning to feed herself and didn't eat off a plate. Then we used plastic ones that stuck right to the table but now we use ones that are also a coloring mat. We also really like disposable sippy cups because if you leave one on the table, who cares! Plus they are sturdy enough to be reused over and over.
- Art on the Go: ER really likes coloring so when I found this Busy Bag from Counting Bunnies I knew I had to order one. It was really affordable and came with a coloring book and crayons so it was all ready to go. It's a smaller bag; the perfect size for ER to tote around herself. It's big enough to fit another small treasure like one of her babies. We also really like the travel Taby Tray that she's using in the top picture in the post. It gives her a hard surface in the car to color on and some place to keep her drink.
- DVD Player: Yes we did finally get one for our last trip now that's she's got enough attention span to watch an entire video. We bought along new ones, that we got at Target for only five dollars each, but in the end it was Madagascar that she wanted. That's a favorite around here.
Other Travel Suggestions:
- Scheduled Breaks: Plan for things to take a lot longer than if were just the two of you. Brad and I drove from MI to CA when we moved out there in two and half days. There is no way we could've kept up that schedule with ER. We left very early in the morning so we could get a big chunk of the driving out of the way during her normal sleeping time. We also planned frequent stops, many rest stops have play areas. Plan to spend anywhere from fifteen minutes to half an hour there, that's ER with Brad at one in Illinois above. Fit in fun side trips like our stop in Hershey if travel time permits to help break up the day. We also budget eating at sit down restaurants rather than fast food chains at least once a day. That way we're out of the car for longer. Request a booth so your small child has room to move around.
- Comforts of Home: Obviously we can't bring her actual bed with us, but bringing something your child is familiar with helps them get acclimated to a new and unusual environment like a hotel room. When ER was first born she spent the first few months sleeping in the bassinet attachement on her co-sleeper. Now that she's bigger she can still sleep in it's play yard configuration. She's over the weight limit but is still small and doesn't climb out, so evaluate what's best for your child. Next time we'll probably have to get a travel bed for her. We brought her strawberry fleece blanket to Philadelphia and she continued to sleep under her tent, even though we were in another state. It goes without saying favorite Lovies or babies are a must for bedtime!
- Car games and activities that keep your child busy while traveling or running errands
- Ways you pass the time when your waiting, like at the doctors or in line
- Quiet games that travel well
- Ideas for keeping little ones quiet at worship service
- Travel tips for families
- Any other idea you can think of that help you get from point A to point B!