Saturday, December 27, 2008


Sooner or later, you're going to have to travel with your toddlers, and it's not going to be easy. Spending several hours confined to such a small space can be difficult for adults to stomach, but imagine what it's like for a two year old. Toddlers were made to run and play and wear themselves out so that they may nap. These things are impossible to do in a car hurtling along at 80 miles per hour. They will get cranky. They will yell, scream, moan, and cry. They will refuse to behave and you will find this stressful, especially since there will be nothing you can do about it from the driver's seat. So here are some toddler travel tips that may come in handy.

First of all, you will be tempted to pack lightly. Don't do it. Prepare yourself for any situation, and pack extra everything. I recommend at least four changes of clothing in addition to whatever your child will wear upon reaching your destination. Towels are always a good idea. Every medicine your child has ever taken should be readily accessible. Litter the vehicle with travel wipes... they should always be within arm's reach. Plastic grocery bags are a must. At least one to hold soiled clothes and three for garbage accumulated along the way. Toys, books, DVD's... pack every one you own, because you never know which ones they will favor at any given moment.

Secondly, know your route. You should study a map ahead of time and familiarize yourself with points along the way that can be helpful stress relievers. State parks offer toddlers a place to run around and play, but other interesting sights can often be found that the whole family can enjoy. I don't care if I have to see Rock City a hundred times if it helps calm the kids down in the car afterward. But if you really get stuck in a bind, go to the nearest Wal-Mart, find the toy section, and let the children behave as badly as they want to. Let them throw things, let them get loud, let them throw a fit when you try to leave. Nobody looks twice at a screaming two year old in Wal-Mart, and it can save your sanity.

Add at least 40% more travel time than you think you'll need. If you get there early, then you've just witnessed a miracle, and don't think it will ever happen again. You'll find yourself pulling off the road for potty breaks, eating breaks, playing breaks, sight seeing breaks, and just can't stand it at all anymore let's find a Wal-Mart breaks. All of these are necessary and essential. Don't worry about the fact that the same drive took you much less time before kids. Those days are over, and you will miss them for the rest of your life.

Perhaps the most important piece of equipment that no man should forget is a single earplug. Place this into the ear closest to your wife, because even though you can tune out the screaming, crying, moaning, and yelling coming from the back seat, your wife cannot. And due to seatbelt laws in place across the nation, her movement will be restricted and her head will only be able to turn approximately 100 degrees as she yells directly into your ear, "Stop all of that yelling and screaming before I pull this car over and wear your butts out!" This is why old men only have one good ear.

Well, I hope these ideas come in handy the next time you travel with toddlers. But if you're anything like me, you'll find yourself staring at some RV and thinking, "If I had one of those, I could put the wife and kids in the back, and sit up here in the cab all by myself in peace and quiet." And to think, I always wondered why those things were so expensive...

1 comment:

Sassy Molassy said...

The plastic grocery bags are also handy for what we, around here, call the plastic-bag-puke-bib. Our kids have been known to get carsick, but they also have an uncanny knack for manifesting a stomach virus on the first leg of a long car trick. Those bags' handles can be woven around the car seat straps to form a handy barf bag right at chest level. Double bagging is recommended.