Top 5 Road Trip Tricks With a Toddler
So you have a vacation planned, and the most fun way to take a vacation is a road trip! At least we as a family love them. It’s economical, flexible, and lots of sightseeing. It all seems perfect when you decide to head out and start packing in a spur of the moment, until you realize that.. Hey! You are travelling with a toddler *shock face*
Now, a toddler is not just any child. A Toddler is a child that needs their own entire vacation schedule. It needs to be separate from the rest of the vacation planning and packing. Why is it so difficult then an elder child? Because toddlers are Demanding, Mobile, and Cranky. They are Independent in their own dependent way and not entirely verbally expressive.
So here I am, enlisting the ‘Top 5 Road Trip Tricks with a Toddler’, which have worked for me every single time.
1. Keep Comfort First
This is THE most important thing while making a road trip. Make the drive comfortable, what I mean by that is, travel in a spacious vehicle, which allows movement and accessibility to the passengers. If you own a sedan, then maybe you would consider renting a MPV (Multi-purpose Van) or an SUV (Sports Utility Van). While your sedan might be comfortable, these cars offer far more space and allow movement, which can become important while travelling with a toddler. Also, make sure your child has his own everyday car seat installed, because they are most probably used to it by now. This will give them some sense of familiarity in a new car.
You might want to want to allow space next to the car seat for a companion if need be, if there is an older child travelling along, then great! Make them sit with the child. If not, then keep the seat empty for an adult to sit by the child occasionally.
2. Scheduling is Key
There is always a considerable debate between whether to travel early in the morning or just before bed time. Well, personally, I always like the daytime travelling! We always start early in the morning and take a night halt in a hotel so that our toddler can sleep comfortably. That way she is rested when we reach our destination and she enjoys to the fullest. Downside is that, we have to plan a lot of activities to keep her busy and happy.
On the other hand, many parents feel more comfortable driving through the night while the child is peacefully sleeping. This way the child won’t notice most of the ride and there will be a very short duration of time to keep them entertained. Downside of this could be the late night driving, it could be tiring and drowsy, and if you are going straight to your destination, then you’ll be sleepy instead of enjoying. So this decision will be entirely based on how you and your child feels comfortable. Choose wisely!
Keep some time apart for unexpected breaks and halts, with a toddler you'll never know when you need one! If you are living in U.S.A one of the apps that help with these breaks is iExit it helps you find service/rest areas.
3. Pack Things Right
For adults, I highly recommend that you travel hands free, choose your camping backpack instead of a suitcase. If there are two adults then two backpacks, this will allow your hands to be free to roll the stroller, hold your child’s hands, and pick them up or simply for carrying other small bags. Umbrella strollers have always been my favorite, cause they are light and easy to navigate and it always helps to bring along a child carry bag too, again it keeps the adults hands free and the child secure.
Along with your general adult packing, there will be a need to pack separate bags for your toddler and their needs. The separate bags include:
- A diaper bag
- A toys/books bag
- A snack bag
Do not forget to pack your child’s toiletries and a handy first aid kit along with sun block and insect repellent (for summer), chap stick and moisturizer (for winter).
4. Snack Snack Snack!
Pick out your child’s all time favorite snacks, along with some new snacks that might keep them fascinated. Bring all those cookies with alphabet and animals on them, so that they become more fun to eat. Do not limit your snack supply; take lots of it, because snacking is not just for hunger it is also for passing time. Attach a snacking tray if you can so that your toddler can feed themselves and take their own sweet time. (It could be messy; but it is worth it).
Keep a cooler for perishable foods. Pack the leak safe sippy cups and the spill proof snack boxes to keep the mess minimum. Also, buy those ‘Take and Toss’ cups for drinks, if you want to stay free from the hassle of washing. The Organic milk boxes are great for travel, they do not need refrigeration and your toddler can drink and discard immediately. They are just enough for one time use!
5. Plan the Entertainment
Like I mentioned before, if you travel in the day, you have to plan a lot of activities for your toddler. Even if you travel at night, it is safe to have a few games up your sleeve, in case they are needed. This blog ‘One Little Project’ shows some simple DIY games to take along to keep your little one busy and interested. Other than that, my go to toys for my toddler are her soft toys that are small and portable, a few chew toys that she can chew while the teeth irritate, her magnetic doodle pad! (She simply loves this one), some shakers, picture/ sound/ interactive books. Books work like a charm on toddlers. It is a good idea to bring a few new toys to engage them for a longer duration. Keep the digital stuff as the last resort, because it can get addictive.
Now, it’s important that a separate bin/bag is packed for entertainment stuff and is kept accessible inside the vehicle so that the toys can be replaced every now and then.
So dear parents, it will never be a piece of cake to travel with your toddler, but if these things are done right it can be so much easier. Do you know any tricks you have learnt over time through personal experience? Share in the comment section below! Let’s make parenting hassle free together J