If you’re like me, you get all kinds of questions from parents about tips for daily life with preschoolers. Our family is planning a road trip, and since we’ve gotten pretty good at traveling this way over the last few years I thought I’d share some tips that I’ve picked up along the way. Here are my top tips for traveling with preschoolers:
- Every trip will be different. Children this young change every single day, and their travel experiences will be no different. At 4 years old my daughter had NEVER been car sick in her little life – until we were in the car for 8 hours on the way home from vacation (she was totally fine on the way there)! We weren’t prepared at all because I assumed that it wouldn’t be a problem. Well, you know what they say about assuming… I guess this is another way of saying my tip #2
- Prepare for ANYTHING. I’m a planner by nature, and I was raised by a mom who left for every trip ready to be stuck on the side of the road in a blizzard for days. Naturally, I’m known for overpacking. I can say that I’ve never regretted having too much stuff, especially when there’s a young child involved. Whether this is things to keep them busy, ALL the tissues, or more snacks than they’d typically eat in a week – they’ve all come in handy.
- Go with what works for your family. There are so many pictures of really cute divided snack boxes full of healthy stuff like dried fruits, nuts, seeds, and jerky – My kid wouldn’t eat any of that, and she’d accidently dump it all in the first 5 minutes of our trip. A road trip with kids is not about being instagram cute, it’s about maintaining everyone’s sanity! Prepackaged snacks that your family likes just make more sense. While we’re at it, this goes for entertainment too. If your child hates coloring, then expecting them to go through 4 coloring books is unrealistic. Since I mentioned sanity, I should also share that I have no problem with little ones using a tablet for entertainment during a road trip. While I wouldn’t give my daughter one for 12 hours, I definitely think an hour here or there is totally fine. Every family can decide how they feel about this on their own, but just know that your choices here don’t make you a good or bad parent!
- Did I mention snacks? Pack them all. Sometimes snacks just work when nothing else does, there’s no rhyme or reason to it.
- Bring comfort items. If a child has a favorite stuffed animal or blanket, then it makes sense to bring it along, but there are some other items that I’ve found really helpful too. I pack an extra plug-in night light because hotel rooms can be really dark. It can also make a difference to bring the pillow that your child is used to sleeping on – they can use it in the car or wherever you’re staying. Shoes that are familiar, comfortable, and easy for your child to take off on their own are nice because they can slip them off when you’re going to be in the car for a while. Cups or water bottles that little ones know how to use make life a little easier.
- Go easy on everyone. Travel can be really stressful, and little ones don’t have a frame of reference for what’s happening. Take lot’s of deep breaths and try to remember that it’s supposed to be fun. Even when things go wrong, you’re still making memories. My girl doesn’t remember that she got so sick on that road trip, she just remembers the squishmallow and suckers that I bought her when we stopped at CVS to get some Dramamine, because I felt so bad for her!
Road trips can be a great way to travel with little ones because you can bring EVERYTHING with you, and they make getting there part of the adventure – with a little planning and grace.