THE BLOG
07/30/2014 11:17 am ET Updated Sep 29, 2014

10 Tips for Road-Tripping With Toddlers

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Emily, Adam, and Colette on the Amazon River. Photo: Courtesy of Our Open Road.

By Emily Harteau for Fathom | A well-traveled mom knows how to keep the kids happy (and herself sane) while in the driver's seat. Emily knows a thing or two about traveling with kids. As we write this, she's driving around the Americas with her husband, Adam, 3-year-old daughter Colette, and recently added one-month-old Sierra. You can read all about their tales on Our Open Road. Here's how she high-tails it with a toddler in tow.

1. GET THEM INVOLVED

Before you depart, tell your child where you're going, point it out on a map, talk about the plans — get them excited, too!

2. BRING YOUR TRIBE WITH YOU

Make a small family photo album for your little explorer. We call ours a "love book." Print 4x6 pictures of your toddler reading with daddy, cooking with Auntie, and playing ball with cousins.

3. PACK FOR NOW, NOT LATER

Bring what fits your little one now, not what will fit in six months. There are kids everywhere and that means there are clothes, shoes, and other necessities for them along the road.

4. REVEAL YOUR SECRETS (SLOWLY)

Bring a stash of surprises — a little bag of stickers or a few small toys — and once a day, week, or month (as needed, really) bust them out.

5. CARRY SNACKS

Stock up when you are at a place with good snacks — raisins, granola bars, nuts, a fresh orange — nothing that will (inevitably) get smashed (nectarine, yogurt) into the bottom of your bag.

6. BRING BACKUP

The weather changes as quickly as your toddler's mood. Bring a change of clothes and accessories (sunscreen, a hat, sweater, undies, socks) with you on daily excursions.

7. SIGN UP FOR SKYPE

And make sure your family does too! If you're traveling for an extended period of time, you can make connecting a cinch with the wonderful World Wide Web.

8. BABYWIPES ARE YOUR FRIEND

Keep a pack within arms reach. Toilet paper is not provided in many bathrooms, sticky faces will need wiping, and spills happen sometimes. You will also relish a quick wipe-down after a long, hot day on the open road.

9. CHARGE YOUR BATTERIES

Remember to stay charged and bring spares. I'm a big fan of GoalZero solar power supply. There will be moments on your voyage that you want to capture and keep for a lifetime. Don't get caught with a dead camera battery!

10. ACCOUNT FOR STOPS

Allot more time than Google Maps or the GPS says it will take to get somewhere. You will need to stop to pee, eat, and stretch. When you pass a playground or park, stop, meet the locals, push your kiddo on the swing, and then continue on your way with a happy munchkin.

Read more on Fathom: Eye Candy: Family Road Trip in the Andes, How to Raise World-Curious Kids, 10 Tips for Flying with Babies

Emily is a road warrior, camp chef, navigator, fashion designer, wife, and mother. She travels the Americas with her husband Adam, and daughter Colette, in their VW Westfalia. You can follow the trio on Instagram and Twitter at @ouropenroad. They travel for life.