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Surviving a Road Trip with a Toddler

Someone joked that preparing to fly with a baby is like preparing for battle, only it isn’t a joke, it’s the absolute truth. And just like battle, sometimes you win, and sometimes, despite your very best efforts…you lose. Bad.
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By: Janssen Bradshaw

Last week, my daughter and I drove from Austin to Houston to meet up with my husband who was there for work training.

It is no exaggeration that I spent the three weeks before this trip worrying about the drive down. And this is a three hour drive we’re talking about, here, not ten hours or multiple days of extended driving. I am clearly a road-trip wimp.

Happily, though, the whole thing went extremely smoothly, and I was astounded at how well-behaved she was.

A couple of things that seemed to really help:

1. Don’t expect it to be like a childless road trip where you listen to whatever you want, let your mind wander, and basically just enjoy the view. Low expectations are sometimes the key to happiness, are they not?

2. Pack snacks in different containers. The fact that she had her own bag of grapes or that the raisins were in a slightly-complicated tupperware seemed to make them much more fun (and they entertained her for longer than I expected).

3. A combination of new and old toys and books. At the beginning, she liked the new things she’d never seen, but after a couple of hours, she really liked having her familiar and favorite items.

4. A phone call. She is quite attached to my mom, and my mom is really good about talking to her on the phone (asking her questions, singing songs with her, etc). I handed over my phone, locked the keyboard, and let her talk to my mom for a good twenty minutes. Bless you, Grancie.

5. Children’s Music. I pulled out two CDs I’d gotten at a baby shower and never opened and sang along with her.

6. Cows. I have never felt so much love for Texas and the never-ending stream of cows along the highway. We spent a full thirty minutes looking for cows and then waving at them when they appeared. I was instructed to “look for tows on right, I yook for tows on yeft.” Okay, then, bossy girl. I’ll just look to my right here.

I know that lots of people do really serious roadtrips with their very young children, though, and everyone seems to survive.

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  • Rated 0 out of 5 by 3reviewers.
    Rated 0 out of 5 by My son hates road trips. After 2 hours he is ready to get out of the vehicle. I've tried playing games and reading books and stuff, which works for a little while... When we stop to stretch our legs, potty, or eat, its a fight to get him back into the car seat.... Not giving up though!!!!! I will just keep pulling out activities to pacify him. :) September 26, 2013
    Rated 0 out of 5 by My family takes a trip once a month from Houston Texas to Bloomfield New Mexico. It's a good 18 hour trip. My two year old daughter takes the trip like a champ. She loves the music I love to listen to. She loves "horsies" that's all we heard the whole trip "Horsie! Bye-bye", "bye-bye horsie." She's too cute. June 1, 2013
    Rated 0 out of 5 by I also found it helpful when we would stop at gas stations or restaurants while on the road trip, stretching and of course running around would help with the aches of sitting for a long period of time. When we go on road trips it takes us around 24 hours. One time I noticed, my LO did not want to be sitting anymore and stretching helped a lot, even got helped him relax. May 8, 2013
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