Road trips can be a great, exciting, and diverse experience, but a lack of planning and the presence of young children can result in disaster. I learned this first hand.
Don’t get me wrong, I did do some planning and had the important things planned out, such as destinations and accommodations, but many things slipped through the cracks and we paid the price. Lets just say, trying to sleep in a car with a toddler was not the best experience.
1. Make an itinerary
Road trips and spontaneity can be a great combination…but not when toddlers are involved. Before you go make out a plan of where you want to be and when. Make reservations for accommodations so you can be sure you will have a decent place to sleep with your toddlers.
While I would say it is necessary to know where you’re going to sleep when a toddler is involved, it does not mean that camping is not an option! It will save you money in the long run and may even end up being a great experience.
3. Do your research!
Before leaving for the trip make sure you do your research on the destinations and the accommodations! The major downfall for my first road trip with my then 2 year old was quickly choosing a hotel with a low price. We arrived at the hotel, but within twenty minutes we were on our way out. The room was full of mold, had a musty, dirty smell, dirt in the bathtub, and was in a very sketchy area. In the interest of saving money I quickly booked the hotel and failed to properly research it prior to arrival. For any road trip, or any trip for that matter, I would recommend fully doing your research and choosing accommodations that fit your needs, not just your budget.
When road tripping with toddlers I would also recommend researching attractions that the toddler will enjoy. I find that the best way to road trip is to find an even combination between attractions geared towards the child and attractions that you may want to see.
4. Bring entertainment for the car ride!
On a road trip there is a great probability that you will spend many hours in the car. This can be boring for young children. Be sure to bring some form of entertainment for young children, whether that be toys or a tablet. It will make the ride much more enjoyable for you and them.
5. Make your playlist!
While driving radio stations can be tricky and you may not be able to get what you want. Making a playlist ahead of time will ensure you have the right music for the perfect road trip. You can also make a child friendly playlist that will keep them entertained.
6. Take the Road Less Traveled
If you have the time, spend some time driving the back roads instead of the highways. This may give you something a little more attractive to look at and can introduce you to local life. The scenery may be more entertaining for your toddler as well.
7. Eat Local
Chances are local restaurants will be cheaper than fancier ones. Another plus is that you will get to experience local life, always a great addition for any trip. Dive into the culture!
8. Make sure you have a working GPS
On any road trip you are going to need to know where you are going. Make sure that you have a working GPS, whether it be an actual GPS or your phone. I would recommend an actual GPS to avoid running into areas with low or no cell service. As a backup plan having maps or directions printed and with you can help prevent a possible disaster.
9. Have a full tank of gas…don’t push it!
Always make sure you have a full tank of gas before venturing out onto the next destination. You are unfamiliar with the location and you never know what may happen. Being stuck in the middle of nowhere with no gas and a toddler is not my idea of fun.
10. Stay Organized
Keep your luggage organized! When taking a road trip you generally will have all your luggage in the car-keep the most needed items accessible so that you don’t have to dig through suitcases on the side of the road. This applies especially when traveling with young children because as any parent knows-kids require a lot of equipment! Stay organized and reduce your stress!
11. Be flexible!
While traveling with a toddler it is important to have a plan for the basic necessities, such as a place to sleep. Having an outline of the destinations and attractions you want to visit is great-but don’t be disappointed if you are not able to hit all of those attractions. When traveling with toddlers things come up or things may take longer than expected. Be prepared ahead of time that you may not be able to hit all the spots you want to-this can help lessen the disappointment.
What are you tips on road tripping with a toddler?