Long road trips with your toddler need not be tiresome affairs. All they require is a bit of foresight, strategic planning, and a healthy dose of good humor to tide you along and keep things fun. Take a look at the below steps to make sure your ride is as smooth and as child/parent-friendly as possible.
Plan your trip ahead of time
Prepare a list of all the things you’re planning on taking with you at least a week before your departure date and work on getting all the items on it ready as soon as you can. You should also have your car checked and call to make sure your road assistance plan is up-to-date in case of car breakdowns en route.
Categorize your luggage into items that you want to keep close at hand and things that you can pack into the car trunk. Basic items like hats and jackets as well as supplies like sun cream, Fine Baby® wet wipes and plastic garbage bags should be kept in easy reach. You might also want to keep an extra change of clothes ready in case of messy mishaps.
Take standard safety measures
Make sure that your toddler’s car seat is installed properly before you begin your road trip, pack a first aid kit and a phone charger for the car, and get plenty of sleep before your departure time; sleep deprivation can become a hazard as it contributes to unsafe driving.
Take your toddler's sleep schedule into consideration
Preparing to hit the road right before your toddler’s usual bed time is actually a smart move, as your kid will be able to snooze for the initial long hours and give you some peaceful driving time. Another plan is leaving before lunchtime and having your toddler snack in the car and sleep afterwards.
Arrange for frequent rest stops
Expecting young kids to sit quietly for several hours in a single stretch is unrealistic, so plan to pull over every 2-3 hours at rest stops or parks to give yourself and your toddler a chance to stretch your legs and relieve some pent-up physical energy. If it’s too cold for parks, try stopping at malls along the way.
Stack up on drinks and snacks
Kids can get hungry or thirsty long before a rest stop or restaurant is in sight. Pack a bag of goodies for the trip to nip dehydration and hunger related crankiness in the bud. Easy-to-pack snacks include crackers, pretzels, cereal, sandwiches, cookies, apple slices, precut vegetables, string cheese, and sippy cups with juice or water. Try to avoid juice cartons, yogurt and most types of fruits that can make a mess.
Bring along entertainment
Packing toys and entertainment for your toddler is a great way of keeping them occupied during long drives and limiting backseat meltdowns. Things like a bag of plastic animals or cars, dolls or action figures, puzzles, books, crayons and paper, and even story book CDs are great for keeping your toddler engaged for a few hours.
Alternate with your partner between driving and entertainment duties
If you’re travelling with another adult on board, take turns to drive and keep your toddler entertained and fed. Doing so will help both you and your travelling partner stay sane and your little tyke remain in good spirits.