How to Plan a Long Road Trip with Your Toddler

Adventure is in the air and you are about to set out on a road trip with your toddler. Here are some practical tips to ensure that you have a fun and hassle-free trip with your little explorer

By Aditi Sheoran Chhajta

How to Plan a Long Road Trip with Your Toddler

Children in the toddler stage are like bundles of energy that soak up all the fun and learning that comes their way. This is an apt stage to introduce them to road travel as they enjoy being outdoors and their excitement at seeing new things and having unique experiences, will double while on a road trip. While taking your little one on an adventure on the road is a great idea, there are some things you need to be careful about -- toddlers will get tired and cranky in long driving trips because they are not used to being restricted to a small area for long periods of time. Moreover, they get bored with the monotony and might show their frustration by crying or throwing tantrums.

So, it is important that parents plan well while going on a road trip, to avoid a meltdown along the way. There are a lot of contingencies one has to prepare for, especially with a toddler in tow. Be clever and meticulous in your prep and planning to ensure a happy child and a hassle-free holiday. Read on to discover how you can make your trip free of major glitches…

1. Sync the travel schedule with your baby’s clock

Begin the journey at a time when your toddler would be fine sitting in an enclosed space like a car. If he is usually active at the time you plan to set out, make sure you play outdoors with him or let him run around in a park/open area close by, to expend that energy prior to starting out. It is important that he enjoys the beginning of the journey instead of becoming restless from the word go. It is equally important that you to stick to his mealtimes, to avoid a cranky toddler.

2. Pack like a pro

Pack all essentials such as diapers, mosquito repellent, a handy change of clothes, a hat and a stole, umbrellas, sunscreens, diaper rash cream, towel, spare waste bags, hand sanitisers, sun shades for car windows, a Frisbee or a ball for the breaks in between, lots of juices, milk, knick-knacks, fruits and so on. Make a checklist so that you do not miss anything. Pack in smaller bags so that whatever you need is easily accessible. Don’t forget to carry you baby’s favourite toy, tumbler, spoon, plate, sipper and straws, just in case!

Refer our article on making a checklist and you will be sorted --

3. Ensure lots of sleep

It is important that you and your toddler are well-rested before setting out on the trip. Also, let your little one sleep at regular intervals in the car. Often, the lulling motion of a car makes little ones knock off to sleep. If you have her favourite blanket and stuffed toy handy, then she will not only sleep better, but also longer. Isn’t that a great thing while you are on the move?

5. Make safety a priority

One, ensure you have a first-aid kit in your car. Two, switch on the child-lock while on the move. Three, it is a great idea to get your child accustomed to sitting happily in a car seat. One can’t really take chances here. Get your vehicle serviced before the trip, so it is in perfect condition for travel. Keep the windows down slightly, only if required. Also, even if the child-lock is on, explain to your toddler not to fiddle around with the door lock or put her hand out of the window, in case she is fidgety. It is important to make her understand that it is dangerous to put her head or hand out.

6. Plan for pit-stops and stretch time

Do a little research when you plan the trip route and ask others who have made the journey before you, for suggestions, so that you know the best places to stop for a break. Apart from eateries and restrooms, kids need open spaces or garden patches to stretch out and run around a bit, before they can be on the move again. This will ensure they do not get restless while on the move. If there are swings or other interesting activities along the way, even better!

7. Make the right seating arrangements

If your child needs a lot of interaction, one parent can sit in the backseat with him. Let your baby face the front, rather than out of the window, to avoid dizziness. Also, it is best to split driving duties after every other pit-stop. This way the child remains engaged and parents get a welcome break from driving. Kids should be made to sit securely in the backseat as far as possible, to avoid suffocation from air bags or neck/head injuries from sudden jerks, in the event of an accident.

8. Entertainment is a must

Put some good music in your car. This should include the baby’s favourite peppy track as well as her sleep song. Make sure you have toys and games handy to keep the little one occupied. It is a good idea to decide on some interesting car games to play on the way, which will increase the banter and make for good family bonding. Also carry interesting picture/experience books for your toddler so that she won’t feel bored.

9. Experience the journey

Point out to interesting spots or sights on the way. Get your child involved and aware of the happenings around. Most children love to look at the back of the car; at such times ensure you are holding them tight.

10. Carry a potty seat

If your kid is accustomed to pooping in the potty seat, taking a portable one along will be helpful. Children’s bowel conditions sometimes undergo a change while travelling or sitting for long hours in a car, and it might not be easy to predict when they would want to go. It will be difficult to find a toilet when there’s an emergency, while on the road. That’s when the potty seat will come to your rescue.

It is most important to stay in the moment while on a trip. After all, the parent should also have some fun rather than worrying too much along the way. The golden rule is that if you enjoy the trip for yourself, your kid will find ways to enjoy himself too.