Try these useful tips for extended road trips with your little tikes
You’re packing up the car for an extended road trip - but wait, you have children!
Packing for you and your significant other is stress enough. Adding children to that bucket list can make the whole affair that much more stressful. What to pack for toddlers and babies, how to entertain them, and the types of food to bring are all things you want to think about before getting on the road.
But there’s no reason to fret. Armed with the right information and the right amount of preparation, you can make a road trip with babies and toddlers a fun and enriching experience for you and them!
We’ve put together ten crucial tips for enjoying a peaceful road trip with babies and toddlers. If you’re a parent, let us know in the comments what you do to have a great road trip with babies and toddlers.
Pack the Right Clothing
Changes of clothes are crucial for any long-distance trip. Packing baby and toddler clothing that is both comfortable and weather-appropriate is perhaps the most important part of packing for a road trip.
For babies, bringing enough clothing to account for all the messes they’ll spill all over themselves means at least several changes along the way - and all of that on top of the regular day-to-day outfits.
Packing clothing for toddlers carry largely the same concerns, but you can pack less depending on if they’re messy or not. The thing is, even for toddlers you can never pack enough changes of clothes for whatever happens - whether it’s that gas station hotdog that spews ketchup on them, or if they feel sick while on the road.
Bring the Right Entertainment
The world of screen entertainment in the case of road trips with babies and toddlers can be your best friend.
If you have an iPhone or iPad for your children to use, you can load it up with tons of free games for endless hours of entertainment.
Additionally, if you really want to keep your kids under control, YouTube has tons of videos and shows you can stream - think Baby Shark and all the toy demonstration videos online!
Pack Diapers and Sanitary/Cleaning Supplies
Is it any surprise that diapers are something you should bring plenty of for each road trip?
For infants, think about packing multiple diapers each day - realistically, think about how many diapers your infant uses each day, and bring a few extras just in case.
As children will most likely be eating and drinking on the trip, pack plenty of sanitary wipes and other self-cleaning supplies to keep your children clean during your journey.
Another great item to bring with you is a diaper-changing pad. In the event that you do need to pull over, you can set up a back seat or the holding area in your SUV to create an impromptu baby changing station.
Food and Drinks
As long as you’re not planning on stopping at every single food stop along the way, bring tons of snacks, prepared meals, and drinks.
For toddlers who are capable of reliably holding tupperware on their lap, you can pack healthy snacks of carrots and celery.
For infants, pack plenty of formula and extra bottles. Avoid such items as baby food or mashed up anything - for these types of foods you’re just asking for a mess the next time you hit a pot hole.
The most important part of packing food and drinks for infants and toddlers is that they will most likely be holding their delicacies on their own. Focus on juice boxes, fruits, and other easily-transportable items. Anything that can be held without easily spilling or breaking is a step in the right direction.
Build Up Suspense
Children behave best when they are excited for what they are doing. This is a great opportunity to make a road trip with toddlers easy and fun!
Try to frame the trip as an adventure. Discuss where you’re going, why you’re going there, and keep an eye out for things that will make your children excited to be on a road trip.
Here’s a great tip - some parents will pack maps and show their kids how to read it. As long as they understand the map will tell them where to go, your little navigator will certainly be entertained for a god portion of the journey.
Are there specific landmarks your children would love to interact with? Or, maybe a point of interest along the way?
For toddlers especially, you can talk to them about particular destinations along the way so they can stay excited and expectant of what’s to come!
Map Out Rest Stops
This is perhaps the most important part of any road trip. Knowing where the rest stops are will help you determine when you can change diapers - assuming you don’t want to change them in the car - and when you can use the restroom.
This last point can’t be stressed enough. For you, having to go to the bathroom on the road adds stress to what could already be a stressful trip - rest stops are great places for not only using the loo, but taking a badly-needed stretch, snack re-up, or just a breath.
Do your little tikes love to sing or dance? There’s no better way to get them going - or to enjoy a family singalong - than great music on the road.
There’s tons of options for how to plan your music. If you have a streaming service like Spotify or Apple Music, you can create playlists ready and raring to go that your children will love. You can also take advantage of the fact that music on the open road is a relaxing way to pass the time.
While you may have brought toys and other entertainment to keep your children occupied, you can’t pass up classic driving games for full-family fun.
Word associations are great ways to keep kids engaged with their surroundings. One of my favorite games to play on the road is “What Else?” - you may spot a large, red truck, and ask your children, “What else is red?” This is a game that can keep children occupied for hours on end, and has worked for many parents.
Also, don’t forget “I Spy,” a color association game that has near-endless possibilities.
Are you staying at hotels along the way?
Some are better for children than others. Think pools, play areas, and proximity to playgrounds and the like if you’re planning extended stays.
A great way to choose the best hotels for infants and toddlers is to look at the reviews online - factors such as amenities useful for parents are often pointed out by other travellers with children.
The Main Takeaways
Now that we’ve gone over everything that you’ll need to think about for travelling with children on a road trip, take a breath.
Road trips with babies and toddlers are no laughing matter, but there are tons of different measures you can take to make your next trip less stressful and - hopefully - enjoyable!
Long-distance trips are incredible opportunities to grow closer with your children. There’s no telling what kind of connections you can make with your children when forced to be in a car for an extended period of time - above all, you must keep in mind that this is a major undertaking for them. Understanding how difficult it can be for a child to be calm and amicable on long trips will only help you reinforce your patience and allow you to have a great time!
Link to Diaper Bag Blog Post