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Traveling with Baby & Traveling with a Toddler in a Car Tips

Updated on September 9, 2014

Car travel with an infant, baby or toddler is difficult but manageable with the right tricks

Travel will change significantly after having a baby and not in a good way. Road trips will no longer be fun, relaxing and quiet. You will no longer be able to drive for extended periods of time without making frequent stops. Book on tapes geared towards adults will no longer be appropriate. Peace and quiet will be a thing of the past. Traveling smart can make all the difference in the world when babies and toddlers are involved. I've compiled my best tips (and there are quite a few) for staying sane while partaking in baby travel.


Toddler & Baby Car Travel Experience

Have you ever taken a road trip with an infant or young child?

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Bring a portable potty for your toddler

If your toddler is at a stage where they're potty training it's essential that you have a portable potty. You don't always know how long it will be to the next stop and young children and toddlers are unable to hold it for long. If you have a portable potty you can simply pull to the side of the road.

What I absolutely love about this portable potty is that it works in two ways. The first is a portable potty and it has bags that you attach to the base. This way the waste can be thrown out and you don't have to deal with messy clean up. The second is it can be used as a portable potty seat. This keeps your child clean at dirty rest stops and also makes the seat the right size so your child isn't falling in. My daughter loves this seat and always requests it. It folds down small so it's easy to bring with on travels or day-to-day errands.

Scented Bags for Accidents and Dirty Diapers for Travel with a Baby - Must have when traveling in the car with babies

I don't know what it is about my kids but when they were infants it seemed they'd always have an explosive, get everywhere poop whenever we were on a road trip. I'm not someone who likes to throw away baby clothes because they're dirtied. So to my husband's great distress I would always insist on bringing the poopy clothes with us. One of the worst experiences but now the funniest was not on a road trip but just a trip across town. We went to a car dealership where we planned on trading in our vehicle and purchasing a new one. As if on cue right before we pulled in my daughter had one of these famous episodes. We cleaned her up, put her in her spare outfit and left the dirty one in the bag of the SUV. We forgot all about it until we took the car salesman out to inspect the value of our trade in. The dirty clothes had been baking in the hot Arizona sun. Needless to say I'm pretty sure the resulting smell took several thousand dollars off the price he was willing to offer us for our trade in...

In addition to clothes there may come times when you have to change a diaper on the side of the road and have no where to throw it. Having a bag that is scented and can be tied tight can help greatly reduce smells. I would highly recommend bringing some scented bags in the car whether you're driving cross country or just to the grocery store. You can also put a kitchen trash bag scented in Febreze in your car in case of emergency. I personally like these Knot It bags because you can tear off the amount you need and not waste a lot of bag.

Use a baby mirror in your car during road trips with baby

A baby mirror is great not only for the longer road trips for also for day-to-day driving. It's highly recommended for safety reasons that baby's car seat is installed rear-facing until baby reaches the age of 2. In this set-up it's not possible to see baby unless you have a mirror. There are a number of reasons why it helps to see your baby. Are they out of their snack or bottle? Did they fall asleep? Are they choking on something? Why are they crying? A mirror can decrease the need for stopping as often if you can see what's going on.

This mirror in particular is nice because of how it fits on a car. It attaches to any middle head rest; I've had other mirrors that would work in one of my vehicles and not the other. So far I haven't seen a car this hasn't worked in. Plus it rotates 360 degrees so you can get the perfect angle to view your baby which is another problem I've had with other mirrors. It also gives a clear, non-distorted view.

Block the sun with a baby sun shade

Traveling with a baby is extra difficult if the sun is in your baby's eyes. They will typically let you know of the problem by screaming at the top of their lungs... The sun also has a pesky way of waking a sleeping baby and any parent knows that is something to be avoided at all costs. Having a good sun screen eliminates these scenarios and will enable you to drive in peace for longer.

This particular sunshade is nice because it comes in a pack of two so you can cover both sides of the car. It has SPF 30 protection and blocks UV rays, glare and also heat. They're easy to hang, adjust and store.

Plan extra time for stops and breaks for baby on your road trip

Even though I just gave several tips on how to reduce frequent stops on the road, my next tip is to take breaks often. Obviously don't wake baby up and if baby is happy don't rock the apple cart. Try to coordinate stops for gas or food with your baby's needs. I know from experience once baby starts to get cranky it's only going to get worse. If you stop right away, attend to babies needs, give them some love and a little stretch they'll often return to their car seat a happy baby. If you push it however, it can be harder to appease baby later.

If you're on a schedule as far as when you need to arrive at your destination, make sure to plan lots of extra time for stopping along the way. A six hour drive could become eight with stops. If you don't budget that time to keep baby happy then the last several hours of your trip you could be to the tune of screaming.


What to pack when driving with a baby or toddler

These items can make a road trip much more manageable

Snacks, snacks and more snacks

Juice, formula, water or breast pumping supplies depending our your child's stage

Bibs

Toys, books and anything to keep him or her entertained

Baby's favorite stuffed animal or blankie or other item to help encourage sleep

A blanket or two

A change of clothes or two

Extra diapers and wipes or portable potty seat

Scented bags for soiled items

Extra pacifiers if your baby uses one

Sun screen (leave in car)

Baby mirror (leave in car)


Help facilitate easy snacking for your child while traveling in the car

If your child has a full tummy their much more likely to stay content for longer. Having snacks that are easy to access can help prevent frequent stopping.

Bring a portable booster seat when traveling in a car with a baby

While traveling by car with a baby it's a good idea to pack a portable booster seat. Some restaurants and fast food joints don't have high chairs available or if they do they might be dirty and covered in germs. Bringing your own booster seat ensures that baby will always have a safe, clean place to eat their meals. It can even come in handy at your destination if you need to eat any meals in your hotel room or at a relative's house who does not own an extra high chair.

Keep your baby or toddler entertained while on the road

If you travel with an arsenal of toys, books and activities to entertain your baby or young child the trip will be a much happier experience for everyone involved. Hours spent in a car can be boring even for adults, so it's little wonder that small children will get restless quickly. Help make the time in the car fun with items that your child doesn't normally play with so it's fresh and fun. Your child might even come to look forward to long drives if there's a particular treat that they only get to play with while traveling.


Entertain your baby in the car

These toys hook onto the car seat so that baby has easy access to something fun to keep them entertained.

Tiny Love Take-Along Arch, Sunny Stroll
Tiny Love Take-Along Arch, Sunny Stroll

This is another toy that attaches to the car seat so it's always convenient for baby. Lots of fun activities are sure to entertain baby.

 

Chicco Fun Travel Car Safari Toy

This toy has many fun components sure to entertain and attaches to the seat in front of it for a forward facing car seat. If backward facing then it can rest on your child's lap. Appropriate for babies 12 months and older

Lamaze Play & Grow Rusty the Robot Take Along Toy

Designed for babies' birth through 24 months, this toy encourages creativity and stimulates curiosity. This hangs from the car seat so baby won't lose it in the car.

Entertain your toddler in the car

Toddlers are typically a little easier in the car than babies as long as they're kept well entertained with plenty of snacks and water.

LeapFrog LeapPad1 Explorer Learning Tablet, green
LeapFrog LeapPad1 Explorer Learning Tablet, green

You could just bring this one item to entertain your kid and it would probably be enough. It's like an Ipad for kids. It includes a touch screen and the following activities are either included or can be purchased:

100's of games and apps

Books

Videos

Camera with Video Recorder

Flash Cards

 

Portable DVD Player

A portable DVD player is a great way for the hours to pass quickly for a toddler. Pop in their favorite movie or television show and they'll be happy for hours. This DVD player is nice because it has a convenient swivel screen and an affordable price.

Will you be braving travel with a baby or toddler anytime soon?

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Have you had the pleasure of traveling in a car with a baby or toddler? Any tips of your own to share?

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    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 4 years ago from United States

      @Sylvestermouse: Oh, and blessed! I keep forgetting to say that now!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 4 years ago from United States

      Excellent tips and suggestions for traveling with a baby! I was really surprised to see a portable potty. What a wonderful thing. I very much remember the "trials" of traveling with a toddler.

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 4 years ago

      Your little ones are so adorable. I love this lens. It really sickens me, when I see people traveling with their toddlers and there's not car seat in sight, especially when these so called responsible parents pull up to a convenient store and leave these precious kids in the car alone!

    • TransplantedSoul profile image

      TransplantedSoul 4 years ago

      Being prepared with supplies and lots of diversions is the way to go!

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 4 years ago

      Great tips here for traveling with a toddler. My kids are big now, but I still remember. The portable potty is probably one of the more important items...

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Yes, with grandchildren but their moms take care of them. You have really great tips here.

    • OrganicMom247 profile image

      OrganicMom247 4 years ago

      This is a very helpful and informative lens.

    • mihgasper profile image

      Miha Gasper 4 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

      My tip: be patient!;-)

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
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      Melissa Miotke 4 years ago from Arizona

      @LaraineRoses: Thank you so much!

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 4 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      This lens reads like you have traveled with infants a great deal. I think that you have hit it right out of the ball park! No wonder you got a purple star for this informative lens! Congratulations! Angel blessings from me.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have two kids, so the car travel is safe and comfortable, it is my responsibility to Excellent introduction, thank you! :)

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 4 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      I had five children (all adults now) so have traveled with little ones many times. Now I'm looking forward to traveling with my grandson.

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      Traveller579 4 years ago

      This is too much lenses smartly promoted your lenses great information. Thanks for sharing.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Very useful info!

    • profile image

      sailor_man 4 years ago

      Very usefull!

    • dragonlildragon profile image

      dragonlildragon 4 years ago

      Very smart suggestions. :-)

    • blancaverome profile image

      blancaverome 5 years ago

      Great ideas and tips! We are never without wet wipes, a couple of extra bags for whatever might happen and some snacks.

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      tomaztt 5 years ago

      normal-no stopings-we were singing-sleeping-talking and the hours went by normally

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      GracoNautilus3-in-1CarSeat 5 years ago

      Gtear tips from great lens my friend. You write the point. Thank you 4 sharing great tips with us...

    • TACTCI LM profile image

      TACTCI LM 5 years ago

      Got to have those Mommy/Combative Instincts when travelling with the kids! Great lens!

    • Commandrix profile image

      Heidi 5 years ago from Benson, IL

      Good advice here. Young children aren't always the best traveling companions, but if you manage it right you can make things more pleasant for both you and the child.

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
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      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @dellgirl: Thank you so much!

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      dellgirl 5 years ago

      What a great lens, its so full of helpful information. Thank you for sharing. Congratulations on getting Purple Star for this **Awesome** lens! ~~Blessed by a SquidAngel~~

    • TTMall profile image

      TTMall 5 years ago

      Very informative lens. Well done!

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
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      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @Diva2Mom: Thank you! I always really enjoy your lenses and I also really like connecting to the other Mommies on Squidoo:)

    • Diva2Mom profile image

      Diva2Mom 5 years ago

      Great tips! As a mom of 7, I totally agree that the things you mentioned here are definitely must-haves for any moms who travel with an infant, baby or toddler. We bring snacks, juice or water, trash bags, toys, paper and pencil (not too sharp), Lysol Wipes and Paper towels (for accidents), etc. and we also use our portable DVD player to keep our lil ones entertained. I always enjoy interacting with great moms on Squidoo. I remember you visiting my first lens when I first joined Squidoo. I truly appreciate that! I'll never forget that, so thank you sooo much! Great job on this lens, my dear! Cute little kids! Thanks for sharing and may God bless you!

    • TaraWojt profile image

      Tara Wojtaszek 5 years ago

      Some great tips! We've been ok in the car (my daughter falls asleep easily in the car) but have taken several 3 hour ferry trips where we spend half the trip down in the car just so we won't be 'one of those' parents with the screaming kid that every one is sending dirty looks..... Next time I'll try some of your tips.

    • whiteskyline lm profile image

      whiteskyline lm 5 years ago

      Great tips!

    • profile image

      MyBabyBoo 5 years ago

      Great lens, well done!

    • profile image

      trand82 5 years ago

      Owesome lens, many info, we can learn from it a lot,thank you for sharing...:)

    • molhambakir lm profile image

      molhambakir lm 5 years ago

      hooooi that smart cute lens to write about :D

    • profile image

      momsfunny 5 years ago

      These are great and useful tips.

    • lofiegos lm profile image

      lofiegos lm 5 years ago

      Awesome guide! Will be very useful to us. Thks for sharing! :)

    • TrialError profile image

      TrialError 5 years ago

      I figure adding at least 20% to travel time is a good rule of thumb when traveling with small children. Good lens.

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
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      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @WriterJanis2: Thank you!

    • Ardyn25 profile image

      Ardyn25 5 years ago

      Some great ideas, awesome lens.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great lens. Road trip with baby can be quite an advanture ... last time I tried to keep my babygirl entertained with a biscuit ... yeas it was a disaster ... biscuit all around my car ... :D.

    • rawwwwwws lm profile image

      rawwwwwws lm 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing, great advise!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      The most important thing is to have plenty of things to keep them entertained. Your lens has lots of great ideas. Blessed!

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
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      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @SheGetsCreative: Thank you so much!

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      grifith 5 years ago

      Thanks for a great lens

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      naomiyoung 5 years ago

      When I travel with my four year old we try to find numbers starting from zero until he gets tired of it. This keeps him happy on the long ride.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Great tips for traveling with kidlets! *blessed

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
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      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @elyria: Congrats on your baby!

    • Mariajomith profile image

      maria 5 years ago

      It has been a while for me, but we did follow all of your tips. I think this is a great lens.

    • CamelliaPenny profile image

      Perrin 5 years ago from South Carolina

      Great lens . . . I wish I had seen it when my son was younger! We just took our four year old on a 10 hour trip this summer, and a 7 hour trip earlier this year. Music, playing "I spy," and his Leapster were all a great help in getting there and back!

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 5 years ago

      My littles love music, so we always bring lots of music for the trip!

    • ATTHED LM profile image

      ATTHED LM 5 years ago

      Thanks for a really great lens. Agree 100% on nappy bags. The best thing we ever got to make journies easier for our son was his sister! They play together and make the whole thing more enjoyable.

    • elyria profile image

      elyria 5 years ago

      I just had a baby so any tips and ideas for a new mommy are very helpful!

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
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      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @monawin: Thank you!

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
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      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @anonymous: Thank you! Yes the hand is that of my other toddler so I thought it was particularly sweet:)

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
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      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @intermarks: We are the same way!

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
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      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @Gayle Dowell: It would be awesome if someone would invent a portable rocking chair:)

    • BillyPilgrim LM profile image

      BillyPilgrim LM 5 years ago

      Some great tips. I always find travelling with toddlers an arduous experience! Thanks x

    • Vilja profile image

      Vilja 5 years ago from Helsinki

      I don't have any kids but that last tip about entertainment is true blue. I still remember when I was a child - not a baby or a toddler, even - and one of the reasons I looked forward to the six-hour train trip to grandma was that there was a long stopover on the way, during which Mum always bought me a new Donald Duck pocket book. And maybe even candy!

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      YellowTaxis 5 years ago

      most of them I was aware of, but I love the baby mirrors such a simple but helfull tip.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I'd say you have all the bases covered and then some and a lovely models as well! I especially like the added support of the hand holder in your intro picture, sweetness! Traveling sanely with babies, infants and toddlers is a subject that many will certainly embrace....sanity is on the line!

    • intermarks profile image

      intermarks 5 years ago

      I like to travel, I remember when my kid still a baby, almost 2/3 of the car compartment are filled with his stuff.

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 5 years ago from Kansas

      We used to drive from Georgia to Oklahoma, a two day trip. We would pack a rocking lawn chair for the hotel, so I could rock our baby to sleep.

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
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      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @Scullyvan: Good ideas, it doesn't have to be anything fancy if it keeps baby's attention:)

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
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      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @anonymous: That's a great suggestion!

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
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      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @fullofshoes: Yes a portable potty is very helpful on a long car ride. Thank you!

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
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      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @pawpaw911: Thank you!

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
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      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @JoshK47: Thank you-greatly appreciated!

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
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      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @thememorybooksh1: I'm glad you liked them:)

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
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      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @anonymous: I think so but I'm a little biased. Right now I'm just enjoying him being all mine:)

    • Scullyvan profile image

      Scullyvan 5 years ago

      We bring a grab-bag of odds and ends the baby's shown interest in: figurines, a toothbrush, toys, board books.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      We took an 8 hour road trip when my daughter was 2, and one thing I wish I had for her was a toddler-sized neck pillow! We were lucky that she slept alot (out of sheer boredom) but her poor little neck didn't seem to have enough support & her head kept flopping forward. I rolled up a little towel, but a neck pillow would have been better. I'll definitely be getting one for her on our next trip!

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      fullofshoes 5 years ago

      Wish I had thought of a portable potty when mine were little. (If they even had them back then!) Well done lens..full of awesome tips. ~blessed~

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 5 years ago

      It is important to plan ahead, and this is a great resource to help with that.

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      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Very nice guide! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • thememorybooksh1 profile image

      thememorybooksh1 5 years ago

      yes i like all your tips, thanks for sharing them with us.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Is it just me, or is the boy in the showcase image going to have the girls going crazy over him in later years?He looks like Gavin Rossdale :P

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
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      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @CottageHomestead: If it is strange I guess we both are:) Thank you!

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
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      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @Expat Mamasita: I'm glad!

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
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      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @Jogalog: I hope it helps!

    • CottageHomestead profile image

      CottageHomestead 5 years ago

      I loved that you took a portable potty, I did this too when we traveled 19 hours to Canada......I thought maybe I was strange for doing so. :) Good to know I was not the only one. Your little one is a cutie!

    • Expat Mamasita profile image

      Expat Mamasita 5 years ago from Slovakia

      A very helpful lens. :-)

    • Jogalog profile image

      Jogalog 5 years ago

      I'm about to take my first long trip with my baby so I'm hoping I can use some of your tips.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      Very helpful advice!

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      jennyb85 5 years ago

      The tip about having unique games and activities for your kids to use only when in the car is very true. I don't have kids of my own yet but whenever our family would go on road trips to Grandma's house, our parents would bust out the Travel Games Bag full of fun travel-size versions of board games such as Snakes 'n Ladders, Sorry, Trouble, Travel Bingo, etc. I would always look forward to long drives because it meant we got to play all those games!

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      flm_online 5 years ago

      Very awesom lense. This is like an eBook more than a lense. Seriously great tips.