Whether it’s driving a few hours away to visit friends and family, or traveling to a new place to go sightseeing, road trips are supposed to be a fun way to travel, but with a toddler they can be downright awful. Toddlers have a very short attention span, so even a few minutes, much less a few hours, of sitting still can be near impossible for them. Usually that means they start kicking and crying, doing anything to get your attention. When you’re driving, a toddler’s antics are not only annoying, but dangerous. I’ve been going to UAE from time to time by car and it’s about 5 hours, sometimes more and that depends on the traffic or how many stops we have to take. Of course my first time going was really tiring because as a first time mom I was already clueless and I didn’t know what to do, my son was around 4 months by that time. With time I’ve gained experience and it’s been a lot smoother lately, also because my son is old enough to behave now. I’ve already posted about flying with a toddler, if you’re interested you can check it here.
So, here are a few tips on how to travel with a toddler that will make a road trip much smoother.
First off, always make sure you have taken proper safety measures before hitting the road. Toddlers accidentally hurt themselves all the time, but if you’re prepared then this will only be a minor setback instead of a major one. Check that your car seat is installed properly and that your toddler is buckled in. Bring a first-aid kit, plenty of water, and a flashlight just in case you have car trouble. In my country there are no strict rules about child safety and that just irritates me because I’ve seen so many parents put their children on their lap while they drive. Only recently those rules has been forced and it’s going to take time for people to understand child safety is very important, of course you would want your child unharmed and safe so please always use a car seat.
My next tip is to drive at night. There are usually less cars on the road which can make your trip easier, but most importantly, your toddler will sleep through the trip instead of being wide-awake and making a fuss. If you can get your toddler to sleep for most of the drive, you’ll have a very easy time. In my case, me and my husband always choose times around afternoon because it’s easier for us to have lunch on the road and then my son would have his afternoon nap, so it works well both way as long as you know your child’s sleeping times. If you have to drive during the daytime like I do, be prepared for pit stops. Plan to stop at least every thirty minutes on your journey for bathroom breaks and to let your little one stretch his or her legs. I would suggest mapping out stopping points before you leave, so you’ll know you are stopping at safe and sanitary places.
Another tip is to relax on the normal rules you have. Keeping your toddler happy is very important during a long road trip, so if that means he or she gets to have a few more sugary snacks or gets to play on the iPad a little longer than usual, it’s okay. Like I mentioned earlier, toddlers have a very short attention span so it’s really not their fault that they can’t sit still for extended periods of time. It can also help to have one parent in the backseat, playing with your toddler to keep him busy. You and your partner can take turns driving and playing with your young one throughout the trip.