We do our travel by car - so unfortunately I have no ideas or tips for traveling any other way - but after a lot of trial and error we have found the perfect way to get from here to there with minor breakdowns and frustration.
First off, we NEVER travel on the actual holiday itself. We make sure that we leave at least the day before as we can't even imagine being stuck in holiday traffic with a baby/toddler.
We have tried everything from traveling in the morning or at night, to breaking it up and here is what works for us.
- TRAVEL TIME / Breaks
If you have a little extra cash - I HIGHLY recommend this option. If you plan ahead, you can even get a good deal on Hotwire or priceline and pay less than regular price and the further you get on day 1 - the less you have to drive on day 2.
So, we get to our stopping point on day 1 - stay overnight and then get up and get back in the car ASAP to complete the drive. For us, that means another 4 hours - so we know ahead of time that we are going to make at least 1 or 2 stops along the way. We try to stop for a meal and a little walking around time for Katie so that she isn't restless in the car. This makes our total drive more like 7 or 8 hours depending on where we stop - but since we break it up and get out of the car for Katie, it makes it almost bearable.
- Portable DVD Player - I hate to say it, but I don't know how people ever traveled with kids before they were invented. My in-laws bought ours and it has been one of our most used items ever. (we take a lot of long drives)
- Basket of toys - we have a tote basket that we keep on the floor full of toys/books for Katie at all times. We try to swap out the toys every once in awhile for variety to keep her entertained.
- BONUS TOYS - I found a product called Water Wow - it's like Aqua Doodle, only you fill the special pen with water and your kid colors over the special pages and it uncovers beautiful colors and pictures. It only entertains her for maybe 20 minutes - but that's 20 minutes of peace and quiet for us. The good thing about it is they have different characters. She has played with a Sesame Street one before but we bought her a Thomas one a few weeks back that she hasn't seen yet - so that will be our bonus toy for the home stretch when she is screaming OUT OUT OUT of her car seat:)
- Katie's CD's - we have a few music cd's that are specially for Katie. Sesame Street, Wiggles, etc... she stays happy for longer when her music is playing versus ours.
- Ipod Touch - I happen to have one and have downloaded some free games for toddlers on it that will keep her entertained for a few minutes at a time.
- Snacks - if she's eating, she's usually not complaining!
I think the most important aspect of going anywhere for so many hours is letting Katie out of the car for a few minutes at a time. It sucks for us because it makes our drive that much longer, but it makes the traveling bearable so it's necessary.
When Katie was an infant - we would do the same drive in one day - at night. She slept so well in the car seat - that we would do our heavy driving after we put her to "bed" for the night in her cars eat and then she would wake up for a few minutes once we got there, which would make for an interesting hour or two once we arrived but it would make it worth it because then she wouldn't spend the better portion of her day in the car seat while she was awake.
How do you travel with your kids? What tips do you have? I'm always looking for new must haves and tricks.