Sunday, 24 November 2013

How to survive a long journey with a toddler!

When Sienna was 3 months old, we took a trip to Liverpool which takes us around 3-4 hours. I was very nervous about travelling with a baby all that way but we made it with no problems, she slept most of the way and I thought we'd cracked it. Surely as she got older, travelling would get easier. 

This week we had to make an unexpected trip to the Lake District due to unfortunate family circumstances. From where we live, this is around 5-6 hours depending on traffic and that's with no service stops. With Sienna now being a toddler who loves to be active and struggles to stay in her carseat for more than half an hour, I was terrified and fearing the worse. Surely it was hell? Actually, it wasn't. I wouldn't even say it was hard. Sienna coped very well but we did a lot to make it as easy as we could for her. I thought I'd share the tips we used to help keep it as smooth a journey as possible.

 These tips are written for if you are travelling in a car but some can be used for plane/bus journeys. 

Don't over dress
Even though is it freeeeezing at the moment, I didn't want Sienna to overheat in the car or be uncomfortable/constricted so I put her in a few light layers (vest, long sleeve t-shirt) and then layered with a warm Gillet and blanket. We took her coat and hat for when we got out at the service stations but in the car we used the heating to help keep her at a nice temperature. 

Sit in the back
On the way up, I sat in the back with Sienna which is what saved us! I was able to play with her, give her attention, feed her, cuddle her, just attend to her every need better than I could have done if I was in the front. This is probably my number one tip! I did start to feel a bit travel sick for the last few hours so on the way back I sat in the front but had to swap back half way through, it was just too hard!

Try and keep it in time with naps
We were quite lucky in the fact that even though it was an unexpected 'we need to leave now' kind of trip, it fitted in with her nap time, so the first hour and a half and last hour and a half, she slept making it a bit easier! If it a more planned trip, try to work it this way.

Pack lots of snacks 
I made sure to chuck in a whole load of snacks and drinks for the car. We stopped at meal times but the snacks definitely came in handy. As we had the heating on in the car, I made sure to keep Sienna hydrated with her water. Also, the Bibisili bibs were perfect as I could use the pouch as a little snack holder and Sienna could pick them out herself as she likes to be independent with most things.  

Toys, toys, toys!
Of course, we took lots of toys and books to help keep Sienna occupied. Her In the night garden magic mirror she got for her birthday was an absolute lifesaver. It now stays in the changing bag at all times!  When she got bored of toys, I had to use my imagination.. We sang and danced, did round and round the garden, played peekaboo, practiced animal noises with flash cards for reference, watched the rain and followed the drops down the window with our fingers, we even took her boots off at one point and explored the different materials on it. I had to work hard to keep her stimulated but it was fun and we had some quality time together. 

Take breaks & make the most of them
We made a decision to stop every 2 hours as that is long enough for anyone to be sat in a car let alone a toddler. We made sure we made the most of the breaks with Sienna, we let her run around a bit in the service station, obviously changed her nappy, let her have a little stretch and lie on her back and just cram as much 'fun' in as possible. We let her sit on all the rides they had, look around the shops and just let her have a bit of freedom before being stuck in the carseat again. When we were eating she had a bit more time to explore and talk to random people which she loves doing! The man working at McDonalds even gave her a balloon for the car, little things like this really helped her feel like she was getting attention. All these things don't have to add hours onto your journey, just a few minutes will feel so much better for them.

I found all these tips very helpful and the journey was much less stressful than I thought. If you are planning a long journey, I hope these tips help you out, let me know which one helped you the most! 

Do you have any tips to add?

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