Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Road Trippin' With A 2 Year Old

As mentioned here, my family and I enjoyed a lovely extended vacation in Georgia. Well, my daughter and I hijacked my husbands work trip and called it a vacation. Regardless, it was a very enjoyable trip. My hubby golfed, I shopped and Chloe went to the Monkey Joe's, The Georgia Aquarium and Imagine It! Children's Museum. We also spent some time serving some awesome people as they begin an amazing journey planting a church. We also spent a lot of time with dear family. It was truly a wonderful time.

The downside was the drive. It was a 10 hour trip under normal circumstances. Add one very wiggly 2 year old and it becomes a 14 hour journey.

Here's what kept me from jumping out in Ohio.

1. Low Expectations. We had very low expectations. We allowed enough time to stop and stay over, if necessary. Thankfully we didn't have to, but we were prepared to.

2. Lots of snacks. And a variety of snacks. My daughter will wait (semi) patiently while I peel an orange. I'm a little obsessive about getting all the pith off, so this kills lots of time! I also made some bags of homemade trail mix. On the way there, I thought it was a bad idea, because she only wanted the chocolate chips (Apple doesn't fall far from the tree) and she made a mess. On the way home, I didn't care about a mess - I was more concerned with distracting her... I'm not gonna lie. I had a stash of candy for an emergency back up plan on the way home, and I used it. Twice.

3. Grab bags. I had mini purses, make-up bags and other small bags and I filled them with necklaces, small toys and books, stickers and a note card to stick them on, and anything else I could think of to fit in there. When she would get bored, mad or beg to get down (Me Down!?!? = Heartbreaking) I would break out a grab bag and it would entertain her for a bit.

4. Balloons. I would blow them up, let them squeak, blow the air in her face and let them go and fly all over the truck. This killed A LOT of time. I got sick of it WAY before she did. (I tend to get a little car sick, and the turning around to look at her in the back seat was not helping matters.)

5. A Mirror. A friend recommended this and I'm really glad I took it. Girlfriend LOVES to stare at herself... ;)

6. A portable DVD player. Obviously. What kid doesn't love to watch movies? We used this as an absolute last resort. Mostly because we didn't want to listen to it for 10 hours and we knew that when everything else failed, this would still distract her for at least another hour. We did bust it out both on the way down and the way home, but not until the end of the trip. It totally did the trick.

7. Glow sticks. God Bless whomever invented glowsticks. And God Bless The Dollar Tree, where I bought said glow sticks. Genius. Genius. Make Einstein look STUPID, Genius. If you will be in the car at night, RUN! Do not walk to the nearest dollar store (or Roller Rink) and get ya some glow sticks.

8. Bead threading kit. Another dollar store find. I'd been looking for something like this for a while and hadn't found anything age appropriate. Apparently Jesus is the buyer at the Newnan Dollar Tree because He saved me once again. Wooden blocks with holes in them and a large shoe lace = awesome way to kill about an hour. She couldn't thread them, but she sure gave it the ol' college try. For an HOUR. God BLESS the Dollar Tree.

9. Allow time for stopping. All day in the car is just too stinkin' long. On the way down we stopped twice. Once at a McD's playland, which was totally not age appropriate... I wouldn't know because I'm a huge germophob and have never let her in one. Gasp! Unless there are different ones, we haven't been missing anything. Later that day for our dinner stop, we went to a mall play area. (Another first experience, I know - we didn't have to drive all the way to Knoxville to go to a Mall Play Area for the first time.) Way more age appropriate. She was able to run off tons of energy. This was a great decision. On the way home it was GORGEOUS, so we went to a park, played on the equipment, kicked a ball around, blew bubbles and ran ran ran. I think this made all the difference in the world. She didn't have nearly as much energy to say - Me Down!??!? Praise God.

10. Children's Music. It makes me a little crazy, but not nearly as crazy as a screaming child. It was either walk home from Kentucky or listen to Elmo. I don't exercise, so the choice was an easy one.

So. Those are my secrets for surviving a road trip with a 2 year old. Happy Trails!

For more great tips visit We Are That Family.


  1. How I wish I would have read this a week and a half ago before we drove 12ish hours to Utah! Now, we've been on many a road trip before so we had most of the items you listed, but those glow sticks, balloons, and a grab bag sure would have helped out for a few of those hours. Next time though. Thank you!

  2. My son is usually a very good traveller, but I am getting ready to fly to see my dad this weekend - 2 flights, long layover - so I appreciate having a few more tricks to keep my guy happy!

  3. Great post. Really made me smile. Glad you managed to have a 'sane' drive and a great vacation.

  4. LOL! Great tips. So funny because I live about 10 miles from the Newnan Dollar Tree! Love that place and they have a ton of stuff for the kids!

  5. These are some great tips! We're facing a twelve hour car trip with a 2 year old and a six month old in a couple months and I can use all the tips I can get. I love the grab bag and mirror (my son loves looking at himself as well!).

    Visiting from Works for Me Wednesday!

  6. Oh, the glow sticks are a fabulous idea for night driving! Thanks! :) We have two little ones in the backseat that insist someone should be holding their hand and/or singing to them once it gets dark. :)


  7. Great tips, we have taken an 8 hour trip with a 15 month old. Something we've learned is to try and travel at night when possible. My husband is a night owl and can stay up til 2am no problem so a lot of the times we'd leave around her bedtime, which is 6:30pm and she'll sleep most of the time. I'll hold on to your tips for during the day time traveling.

  8. Great tips! When my son was 2, we took a trip of 7-9 hours on the road each day 3 days in a row, and the glow sticks and bead threading would have been ideal. (I wouldn't do the balloons, though--too much risk of distracting the driver.) My cousin who has older kids gave me several tips that were useful:

    1. Magnetic drawing board (MagnaDoodle or similar) doesn't get all over the place like crayons.

    2. Check out enough library books to fill 2 tote bags, and hide them until the trip. Then put 1 in the seating area and 1 in the luggage area. Next day, switch bags. Plenty of new-to-you stories at no cost! (Of course, this only works if you can read in a moving vehicle.)

    3. Use Google Maps to plan a long stop every 100 miles--look for a park or other fun place and some pleasing restaurants. You won't use all the stops, but when the kid gets restless you can say, "Just 20 more minutes until the Peoria Zoo!" or whatever.

  9. Thanks for these tips! We will likely be taking a road trip this summer, and most of your ideas will be perfect for both our two year old and our seven year old.