After we had Naiya, we went from seeing our families a few times a year to so many times a year, it’s become increasingly difficult to keep track! All of this extra family time has really upped our travel game recently–especially since Phil and I are both east coast transplants and we want to make sure we are able to visit everyone. This weekend, we took a road trip from LA to Phoenix and back to see Phil’s family for a total of almost 6 hours each way. In prepping for the trip, while I initially couldn’t help but picture a baby crying fest and anxiety overload, we lived to tell the tale! Today, I’m rounding up our favorites tips in case you have family road trips with your baby or toddler planned in the near future too. I should add that many of these tips were recommendations I received from readers on Instagram! A big thank you to those who helped us out–you guys are lifesavers!
1) You Can Never Have Enough Snacks…Like Ever
We may or may not be raising a future line backer because our baby can seriously eat and she’s already so strong, it’s blowing my mind! After a rough start with her in which she was seemingly allergic to everything in sight (more about that here), I feel so lucky to say that she loves food!
When it comes to any type of travel, we’ve realized that keeping her full of snacks are key. Nobody likes a “hangry” baby! Naiya’s favorite snacks throughout this particular road trip were puffs, Cheerios, wafers, raspberries, blueberries, pouches and brown rice cakes with organic peanut butter. If your baby or toddler likes any of the above, I can’t recommend them enough for long car rides!
The peanut butter on rice cakes was a last-resort that ended up being so helpful, I’m now bringing this snack with us everywhere we go. Naiya licked the peanut butter off the rice cakes for about an hour of our journey and this kept her occupied and happy. The peanut butter ended up all over her face but it was totally worth it.
2) Screen Time Is Actually A Lifesaver
Prior to having Naiya, I told myself I’d never be that mom who let their kids watch too much TV or shows on tablets. In having a toddler, while I’m still as mindful as possible, that has mostly gone out the window because sometimes, you just need a breather! Road trips are one of the times for me that our iPad becomes my best friend and I’m #sorrynotsorry Naiya is definitely allowed zone out for a bit to watch it.
Phil and I ended up downloading a bunch of Sesame Street episodes and we placed the iPad in between our car’s the middle seat and the headrest. Somehow, it stayed in place so that Naiya could see it perfectly from her rear-facing carseat.
We didn’t leave it running the whole time but whenever Naiya was having a full-on meltdown throughout our long drive, Elmo pretty much saved our lives.
A few mamas on Instagram told me they swear by giving her toddlers stickers in the car to keep them occupied. Since our drive was so long, I figured it couldn’t hurt to try this too.
After a crying fit from Naiya when all she wanted to do was get out of her carseat, I pulled out a bunch of stickers from my mom bag of tricks and they kept her entertained for sure.
First, she stared at all of them, trying to peel them. Then, I peeled them off their backing one-by-one and stuck them to her fingers. She loved every minute–until she realized she could start putting them in her mouth.
Ultimately, stickers are probably better for kids a bit older than Naiya but we had a great first run and they helped us get through about 40 minutes of our drive.
4) Baby Shark Song
This one may be a no-brainer for other moms but this song helped get us through at least 1.5 hours of our road trip collectively. Naiya kept saying “more, more!” Sure, Phil and I probably started going crazy hearing it so many times (and acting out all the voices ourselves) but there is something so magical about this song for toddlers, I’m in.
5) All Toys, Books And Lovies Allowed!
Toys were key on our roadtrip–like ALL the toys!
We usually keep our daughter’s “lovie,” an elephant blanket she sleeps with every night for comfort–in her crib. During our road trip, though, we allowed her to take it out of the crib and into the car. For her, this was a big deal! I kept it in our diaper bag at first until she really lost it a couple hours into our drive. When she saw it, she ended up lighting up and feeling so comforted, it was like a special surprise. Naiya’s lovie also allowed her to sleep for a bit in the car because it made her feel extra safe.
As for other toys, we loaded everything we could think of into a big bag and I kept it underneath her carseat. I ended up sitting with Naiya for most of our drive and I kept pulling out all different toys to keep her occupied. Her favorite ended up being a xylophone, which she “played” for a couple hours on and off. Pretty sure my ear drums went numb after a while but anything for Naiya!
Road Trip Advice From You!
Do you and your family have any road trip advice for travel with babies or toddlers? I’d love for you to leave me a comment below to tell me all the things and/or let me know if the above tips and tricks help you in the future! Travel with young kids is overwhelming but totally possible if you arm yourself with patience, tools and if you don’t take all of the crying too seriously. Good luck, mamas!
Photography: Azusa Takano