We are going on a vacation with our 15 mo old next week. It will be a 5 hour car ride and the first long car ride for DS and I am very worried that it's going to be tough on all of us. Does anyone have any tips or suggestions on what I can take or do to keep him calm and entertained? Anything that may work for your kids? He is good in the car but I'm sure he'll get sick of it quickly.
Two adults? No sweat.
1. You do most of the driving so he doesn't need to nurse until he's really ready for it. (DD tends towards a "I can see Mommy, therefore I should nurse" policy so asks for nursing twice as much if I sit in back with her.
2. Plan to stop at least 2 times. Make at least one stop someplace like a rest area where there's lots of grass and such. No one should ever sit for 3 hours or more, so make sure you get up and stretch too, don't just let him wander inside the car playing with you guys.
3. Have a box of toys, snacks,water bottle, in a box up front to pass back. (I use that when I've had to travel alone with dd by being very careful. She was old enough to pass the water bottle back, which was convenient.)
4. When/if he naps, and long stretches of highway are quite soothing for kids who are okay with their car seats, pull over and let the person in back sit up front and you guys have proper adult conversation. Try to limit it to 5 minutes on the subject of how your ds is doing on the trip.
5. When you make stops, everyone tries the potty/gets clean fresh pants. If he's extra fussy, he may need clean fresh pants.
sapphire_chan has great suggestions!
Does he have favorite music? I would go to the library and pick up some fresh kiddo or adult music as well. Books on tape are super fun, too and my little ones were into them at 15 months.
Stopping every 2 hours is a good idea for everyone. We take an 8 hour trip every year (well, not it is a 16 hour trip! over 2 days) and 15 months is a good age for 5 hours.
You'll do great!
Five hours is nothing
But it's something when it's the first time...
This summer we spent probably 45 hours in the car going from Seattle to SoCal and I posted some tips here when someone else asked (DS was 15 mo at the time but had traveled before so it wasn't new but we still used the same tricks as the first trip): http://www.mothering.com/discussions...=#post15751461
We travel a lot.
Bring interactive toys that he likes - like the Skwoosh ball if you have one, or if he's interested in shape-sorting boxes and you have one of those, etc.
We have snacks, toys, books all handy and rotate through them. I usually sit in the back because it's easier to hand toys around, give snacks, etc. And we figured out early on how to nurse while baby and I were still buckled in (not in town, on the highway). That meant that if baby needed to nurse to nap, that could still happen. And it meant that when we stopped, instead of nursing and THEN running/crawling around, we could just go straight to the diaper change/playing.
We stop every couple hours for about 20 minutes. If you have a Garmin or etc., you can 'search' for parks in upcoming towns so you know where to stop and play .... if it's rainy/snowy, then stopping at a Target or mall are usually are our alternate stops. Grocery stores also work, but not as well.
I really think that the fact that we stop frequently is the reason that our girls love to travel. I know a lot of people try to just floor it and reach their destination, but if kids are used to knowing that they can get out and move around, then they will enjoy travel more. We've traveled from northern WY to FL, all through the Southern US, several times to the Pacific NW, out to WI etc. Lots of time in the vehicle (my four year old used to call it, "Home," for awhile
Bring a ball to roll around outside, maybe, too?
And make sure you've got accessible wipes, etc. for while you're in the vehicle.
Also, if carsickness becomes an issue - fold a square of newspaper and place between your child's tummy and shirt. For some reason, it almost always stops carsickness. My eldest had terrible carsickness when she was little; an MDC mother told me this trick when I posted asking for tips, and even though it sounds bizarre, it really does work.
Good luck, you'll do fine!
You already got some great suggestions.
I will add that incorporating nap or bed time into your drive can help a ton. We just went on vacation & timed the drive to coincide with DS's nap, so he was asleep for a good hour or two of the trip. If your DS has an early bedtime (unfortunately mine doesn't) you could even leave at 7pm or something & he can just sleep most of the way.
I usually look for playgrounds along our route so we can plan to stop somewhere where DS can actually get his energy out (rather than a high-traffic highway rest stop where he can't really run safely).
Also, I drive (due to the "I see Mommy so I need to nurse" issue sapphire_chan mentioned!) and DH sits in the back. But that's how we always travel even for short trips.
AWESOME! I love all the suggestions! Thanks so much!!
We are leaving at 4:00 am. Hopefully that will help him sleep at least a couple hours since his normal wake up time is 7:30 am. We are planning to stop for breakfast and also grandma and grandpa are following us in another vehicle so they will all play at our stops. They only bad thing is the weather looks raining. We may have to find some place in doors to play.
I'm so glad I asked, so many great ideas!
I was going to say to leave at like 3 or 4am. We go 6hrs pretty often and try to always leave at 4am, then stop for breakfast at a McDonalds at 8am. My kids blow off enough steam just in the restaurant that we don't need to find a play place (which is good because the McD's we stop at only has a small one outside even though it's in a mountain town) and then back in the car for another 2hrs. This is the time we'll put on a movie if anyones getting antsy.
Put different snacks in snack sized zip-lock baggies that you can hand him at intervals.
If he likes to unwrap things, have a couple of new little toys gift wrapped in little boxes for him to open and play with when you need to avoid a melt-down.
Leaving at 4am, no problem! You may not even need to use many distractions. We took several 3-6 hour trips this summer, and they all went pretty well. We stopped frequently (1.5-2 hours) and had at least 1 nap and 1 long stop for a meal in every leg of the trips. When we could, we brought along several books including new books from the library and played her favorite CD's. Snacks are great and water about 20 minutes before the next stop for my EC babe. (We do EC even when traveling, and she does not tollerate being wet.)
We took our son on a week long road trip last month, and the one thing I would have done differently was to bring about three times as many board books to read to him...they kept him happier far longer than any of the toys I brought and I got tired of reading the same ones over and over! I don't know why I was surprised, given how obsessed he is with books, but it was definitely a lesson learned. The best was Cat by Matthew Van Fleet because it was so interactive, plus I bought it for the trip so it was a novelty to him as well.