Road trips can be the perfect family escape when you’re craving some new sights without the hassle of air travel. Long car rides do still require some planning, though, especially when you have toddlers to keep content and comfortable the whole way. Here are a few tips not to overlook for your next family road trip.
Plan Your Stops
We know smart phones make it easy to just plug in a destination and go, but it’s worth it to take a look at your route beforehand. With toddlers, you want to make sure that 70-mile stretch between rest stops doesn’t catch you off-guard. Beyond just the practical sense of being able to use the restroom or stop to fill-up the tank, use rest stops to break up the car time for little ones and let them stretch their legs.
Enjoy the Journey as Much as the Destination
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your stops, either. Are there playgrounds along the way that you can incorporate that will be just as fun for little ones as the destination? What if you turn your lunch stop into a picnic in the park? These are also great places to bust out your stroller wagon and turn it into a mini adventure that will get your kiddos excited and break up the monotony of the road. Your stroller wagon has storage for all the snacks, water, and essentials from the car, and it can navigate a smooth ride over dirt trails, open grass, sand, or whatever other terrain you may find.
Bring Snacks and the Comforts of Home
As most parents know, a single day as a toddler is an emotional roller coaster. And while you can’t anticipate every outburst, you can remove getting “hangry” from the list of possible triggers. Pack their go-to snacks. Organize a favorite meal in a compartmentalized lunch box to make sure they stick to their regular eating habits and avoid upsetting their tummies from too much snacking.
When you’re packing for this section, think through your little one’s daily routine at home. Do they have a favorite (travel-friendly) cup to include? What comfort items will they want to reach for, such as a cherished stuffed animal or blanket? Is there a certain theme of Band-Aids that soothes them best when they get a bump or a scrape?
Add Variety to Their Forms of Entertainment
We know screen time is a necessary last resort when traveling with kids, but don’t forget other forms of kid-friendly car entertainment, such as audiobooks, the soundtrack to their favorite movie, learning games, or even good old-fashioned “I Spy!”
Embrace the Mess
Messes are less stressful when we accept them, and even less so when we’re prepared for them. Spills are bound to happen in the car. Be sure to bring wipes. They’re great for on-the-go cleaning in places like public restrooms, too. This category is especially important for parents of little ones who are still potty training. Pack their port-a-potty and a couple of changes of clothing that are easily accessible.
Pack for the Weather at All Stages
There’s the weather you leave behind, there’s the climate in the car, and then there’s the weather at your destination. Utilize layers to keep your little ones comfortable at all stages, and don’t forget to throw in extras – like rain boots or bathing suits. If you make a pit stop along the way to sightsee or play, your stroller wagon has plenty of room for extra blankets or a ventilated compartment for muddy shoes. And don’t forget to “dress” your stroller wagon accordingly, too, with an all-weather cover or mosquito netting.
Consider Safety Precautions
Without letting it dampen your excitement for your trip, take a moment to think through some safety nets you may have overlooked. Safety for you and your family provides the ultimate peace of mind. Investing in roadside assistance before you leave may be something to consider if you haven’t yet. Schedule any car maintenance appointments you’ve been putting off. And if you’ve been meaning to purchase a First Aid kit for your car, now is the time.
Don’t Forget Your Stroller Wagon
A stroller wagon has a compact fold that allows it to fit into the trunk of your car. It’s the perfect companion for a family road trip, not only to be used at your destination, but also at any stops you make, too. After all, sometimes the best adventures are the unplanned ones along the way.