As our family continues to grow, we have found road trips to be a fun way to travel with the kids. We like that taking the car gives us more freedom and allows us to control when and where we want to stop, which can be really important when kids are in tow. Traveling with kids is so much easier when you are prepared.
You can start to pack your bags without panic. Let us ease your worries about taking on the open road with children.
1. Most important, before you hit the road, make sure the car seat(s) are properly installed.
2. Know when to leave on your journey. We are super lucky as both girls sleep well in the car, but you may have to plan your departure around either nap time or bedtime so that the baby will sleep through part of the journey. If you keep to your baby’s schedule as much as you can, you will have a happier traveler than if you throw a complete 360. It isn’t always possible to keep to the “proper” schedule, but try to as much as possible and when you can’t, don’t worry.
3. Remember that it is unrealistic to think that you will be able to get in the car and just drive and drive for hours. Try to make some stops when baby is awake so that you both get a break and some outside of the car stimulation.
4. Diaper changes and potty breaks – When you have to go, you have to go, especially if you are a little one. Have a plan for diaper changes and potty breaks. Fast food restaurants are a great place to stop, and might end up being the most convenient. However, we also like to lookout for budget hotels. There are always hotels right off highway exits, the lobby area facilities are less busy, used less than a fast food chain washroom and often feel a lot cleaner. We stop at gas stations for a washroom as a last resort as they are usually super nasty.
5. Snacks – Remember to bring snacks for both you and the kids. Bringing a variety of favourite snacks will give you a little more flexibility to stop a little more than just when the baby is fussy.
6. Bring a selection of favourite toys – Place a selection of favourite toys within reach of each child. Let the child play with the toys as they wish. It is also easier if an adult is within reach of the toys, to pick up toys as they drop. We have also found that buying a plastic bionic arm toy is helpful to retrieve toys when an adult can’t be seated near the kids.
7. Have an adult sit near the kids– While this surely could drive you a little crazy, having someone sit with the kids can be helpful, too. The adult can entertain the kids, sing songs, play peek-a-boo, and any other age appropriate entertainment to keep the little ones busy and amused.
8. Get one of those additional rearview mirrors so that you are able to easily view your child in the back seat. This will enable you to read body signals and respond proactively.
9. Avoid feeding a young baby in the car seat while on the road. It is much safer and easier for you to pull over when baby needs to eat.
10. Pack strategically – Pack everything you think you will want easy access to on the road separately. It is a lot easier when you are not forced to dig around in your suitcase en route. You’ll want jackets and hats to be easily accessible and if you keep sunscreen easily available, you can easily take advantage of opportunities for outdoor fun along the way. Diapers and wipes are another big one to keep easily accessible.
Some items that will always be helpful on the road:
- Extra garbage bags help you to keep your car as clean as it can be with kids. At rest stops you can easily pick up the garbage and dispose of it.
- Anti-bacterial hand sanitizer for when you need to rid your hands of germs.
- A box of one-gallon Ziploc bags. Ziplock bags are great for so many things and can be a lifesaver. Keep some in your car and in the diaper bag and you will be able to keep things that get wet and messy away from everything you don’t want it to touch.
- Aside from packing more diapers, toys and snacks than you may actually need, you should pack a first aid kit customized for the needs of your children. Your kit will vary depending on the amount of children you have and how old they are, but you should include basic instruments and supplies.
- You should also bring along the basic medicine such as those for fever and pain, and cough and cold medications (age dependant).
What tips do you have when travelling with children on the open road?