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10 Tips for a Peaceful Toddler Summer Day Trip

Posted by Kelly Friedl on
10 Tips for a Peaceful Toddler Summer Day Trip

With summer in full swing, many parents are planning vacations and day trips to take advantage of their more relaxed summer schedule. It turns out that family trips aren’t just fun and relaxing, they can actually have positive effects on children’s health and wellbeing by encouraging family bonding and forming positive memories. 

Even though trips are fun and beneficial, it can sometimes be daunting to consider even a short day trip with a toddler around. Planning around naps and snacks and various toddler-related meltdowns can make you question if it’s even worth the effort. 

Luckily, there are lots of ways to make day tripping with your little one a little easier to manage. It might take a little more effort to get out the door, but family day trips can be toddler friendly with a little extra planning. 

 

Tip 1: Plan Around Nap Times 
Keeping your toddler's sleep routine intact can be key to a successful day trip. Experienced parents know that a well-rested child is more likely to be happy and cooperative during your outing. Try to schedule your activities around your toddler's usual nap times to help them get the rest they need. For full day trips, try to make some plans for naps on the go. A comfortable car seat or stroller can make for a cozy napping spot. Bring familiar naptime items like a favorite stuffed animal or small pillow to help your little one feel secure and fall asleep more easily.

Tip 2: Repurpose the Preschool Backpack  
With the school year on pause, you can repurpose your toddler's preschool backpack into a day trip survival kit. Include essentials such as diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, a change of clothes, sunscreen, and any comfort items your child may need.

If you’re using a larger bag for the whole family, use small pouches or ziploc baggies to keep items organized. This makes it easier to find what you need quickly, especially when dealing with a fussy toddler in public.

Tip 3: Choose Toddler-Friendly Destinations 
One way to keep day trips toddler-friendly is to choose destinations that cater to young children. Parks with playgrounds, petting zoos, children's museums, or beaches with shallow water are excellent choices. 

Before heading out, spend a little time researching your destination. Look for information on changing facilities, family restrooms, and areas where toddlers can safely explore. Knowing what to expect can help you plan better and reduce stress during your outing.

Tip 4: Organize the Night Before
Yes, we know every parent is exhausted at the end of any typical day. However, our parent/writer team has found that if they block out 15 minutes the evening before a day trip, organize items, think through the packing and clothes, and lay things out …. The next morning is much more peaceful for getting out the door.

Tip 5: Don’t Forget the Toddler Lunchbox 
We all know that hungry toddlers can quickly become cranky toddlers (that goes for most adults, too!) Pack plenty of snacks and water to keep your little one fueled and hydrated throughout the day. Choose easy-to-pack, nutritious snacks like cheese sticks, whole grain crackers, or fruit pouches. Don't forget to pack a few special treats (we won’t judge if you use them as bribes.) If your toddler is a picky eater or has special dietary needs, you can keep a separate toddler lunchbox at the ready for them. 

Tip 6: Plan Frequent Breaks 
Regular breaks help prevent your toddler from getting overly exhausted and having meltdowns. They also give everyone a chance to stretch, use the restroom, and recharge before the next activity.

You can also use break times for mini-adventures that get your little one’s wiggles out during car trips or long stretches in the stroller. Have a quick dance party, play a game of I Spy, or do some simple stretches together. 

Tip 7: Bring Some Entertainment 
Be sure to pack a few small, engaging toys or activities to keep your child entertained during downtime. Sticker books, magnetic drawing boards, and other small toys can keep little hands busy during waits.

While it's best to limit screen time, having a tablet loaded with educational games or favorite shows can be a lifesaver during long car rides or unexpected delays. Just be sure to save it for when you really need it. 

Tip 8: Be Flexible 
It’s important to remember that things don't always go as planned with toddlers. Be prepared to adjust your schedule or change activities if your child is having a tough time. Flexibility is key to enjoying your day trip.

While it's good to have a general plan, it’s okay to leave room for spontaneous discoveries and detours. Some of the best memories come from unplanned moments.

Tip 9: Pack Extra Clothes 
Dress your toddler in comfortable, layered clothing that will work for the weather and your activities. Don't forget essentials like bucket hats for sun protection or rain gear if needed.

It’s also smart to pack at least one complete change of clothes, including underwear and socks. Toddlers have a knack for finding (or making) messes, and being prepared can save your day trip from ending early due to unexpected messes. 

Tip 10: Pictures vs. Presence 
You’ll probably want to take photos of your trip, but don’t forget to put your phone down too. That way you can focus on experiencing the moments with your child, rather than just capturing them.

If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, keep a family travel journal where you and your toddler can add drawings, ticket stubs, or brief notes about your adventures. 

 

Successful day trips with toddlers often take a balance of maintaining routines, being prepared, choosing appropriate destinations, and staying flexible. Keeping these tips in mind can help keep your trip enjoyable for the whole family. 

While traveling with a toddler has its challenges, each trip gets easier as you and your toddler become more accustomed to exploring together. So pack that bag, grab your little one, and set out on your next family adventure!

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