So last weekend I had the pleasure of going on a road trip with my toddler. Quite honestly, it was way easier than I thought it was going to be. I had known a few friends take their little ones on 6-8hour road trips but never thought I could do it with such ease. Our 7 hour trip turned into a 9 hour trip – long I know, but we didn’t really feel it. I guess we were just fascinated by the whole concept. So if you wanna know how we managed this trip, here’re my top 8 tips:
- PACK appropriately
The great thing about a road trip is you can take as much stuff as you like as long as you have space. And the way you pack or arrange stuff will determine how easy you can grab stuff etc. When there’s two or more of you with the toddler, it’s easier for the other person (or people) to watch and pass on stuff to toddlers as required. However, if there’s only one of you, well, you need to ensure stuff is within reach for either you or your little one. So it’s important to ensure stuff you need during the trip (e.g drinks, tissues/paper towels, cloths etc) is within easy reach. Also if/when your toddler wants something, you can easily pass on.
- FEED right
We all know different foods affect toddlers in different ways. Some can make our toddlers hyper (e.g sugar), some can make them sleepy (e.g warm milk), and some can simply fill up their tummies, perhaps causing constipation even. It’s important to make sure the food you’re feeding doesn’t affect them in ways you’d rather not deal with while travelling. I steer away from bread items (as they can cause constipation), or chocolates (as they can make them hyper). I accidentally gave Tasha a chocolate biscuit and once I felt her kicking the passenger seat. Only to realise she had unbuckled herself and was raring to go. We stopped for coffee and a wee break – worst decision as she wouldn’t go back in the car.
Fruits, veggies, snacks etc are best!
- COMFORT – SEATS
Toddlers like to move and be active all the time. If they don’t feel comfortable in their car/booster seats, you may find they’ll try to unbuckle and get out. To ensure they stay put, make sure the seat is comfortable enough. Further, ensure stuff they need is within reach.
A travel tray is a good idea to put in front of your toddler. Arrange toys etc for them to keep busy with as you drive.
Pic Above: I turned this $2 tray turned into a travel tray. And an old chocolate container into a toy box!
- TIMING is important
Not all times work for both toddlers and parents respectively. I know a friend who used to take long road trips at night only so his toddlers could sleep as he drives. I know this wouldn’t work for everyone, me for one as evenings/nights are for MY sleep not drive. So when I took Tasha on the long road trip, I made sure we left very early in the morning. For a couple of reasons:
– I’m more productive early morning so as the driver, it’s important that I’m as fresh as can be.
– Tasha isn’t an early morning person so I only woke her up to get ready but she fell asleep as soon as we got into the car. Which meant I had a couple or so hours of quiet driving!
It worked for both!
Plan entertainment! Music, audio-books, etc are great when travelling. However, going full-on on entertainment can come back to bite coz the more you entertain the more they expect to be busy and entertained. And kids get tired of repeating things so will want something different here and there.
With Tasha quiet and sleepy at the beginning of the trip, I was able to listen to my own music which got me motivated. When she woke up, I let her listen to my music for a bit till she started getting grizzly, THEN we switched to nursery rhymes, followed by audio books. Quite honestly, by the time she wanted some form of entertainment, we were less than an hour away from our first stop. Not bad ey!
So it’s important to watch out on this part. Don’t go full-on otherwise you’ll have to do it all the way.
- Plan your STOPS/BREAKS
Depending on the length of your trip, planning your stops will help you know when to expect things like refreshing your food/drinks, or when to go to the bathroom. Making stops with toddlers isn’t as easy as hoping-on & off. If your toddler is like mine, sometimes getting out or into the car can require negotiations. So if you know when to stop, you know you can negotiate in the car IF they start to get grizzly.
We stopped after 4.5hours for 2 hours. Had a good feed, changed Tasha and stretched our legs. The rest of the trip was a breeze!
Pic Above: Time to feed the ducks while stretching those legs!
Like adults who take favourite items everywhere they go, toddlers also have favourite toys that might be handy to take with. Those teddy bears? Musical toys we sometimes hate hearing especially when watching our TV programmes? Yeah – they do come in handy during travel! And on a road trip where you’re not really restricted by weight, I’d say take those favourite toys with you.
- CHANGE of CLOTHES
Kids can be messy right? They spill things or when they eat hands can get dirty. So you want to make sure you have spare clothes handy in case you need to change. OR cloths and paper towels to wipe off stuff.
When we stopped I realised Tasha had spilt some water on her car seat. One of the muslin cloths I had packed came to the rescue.
SO, if you’ve ever hesitated taking long trips with your little one, I hope these tips can encourage and help you. This was my first long distance trip (driving myself) AND I truly enjoyed it.
Have you ever taken a roadtrip with your little one? If so, what was your experience? Would love to hear your feedback/thoughts/comments even if you haven’t been on a roadtrip with a toddler.