You might look back on some favourite family trips from your past with fond admiration. Maybe you forged forever friendships with your siblings as you rolled through Canadian roads en route to a fun vacation.
With these happy memories in tow, you might start planning your little family's first road trip. Pictures of smiling faces might dance through your head until you remember that a road trip involves strapping your toddler into the car for several hours. Even the best behaved child can get a little testy when strapped in one place for too long-and screams sound much louder when you're stuck in an enclosed space.
Don't cancel your hotel reservations just yet. Even with a toddler along for the ride, road trips can create lasting family memories.
What's the worst part of a vacation? Cleaning up when you get home. When you travel with a toddler, crumbs are a part of the experience. Do you want to spend your time vacuuming out the car after you unpack, or would you rather simply turn it in? Rental car companies will clean the car for you. Watch out for stains-those sometimes result in extra charges.
Rental cars can save you money on a road trip. Rentals often have better fuel efficiency, and you won't have to pay for an oil change after traveling so far.
Your travel schedule can be your greatest ally. If your toddler takes afternoon naps, consider leaving around lunchtime. Let your child enjoy a special treat for lunch to make it exciting, then put on relaxing music or a movie on a portable DVD player or an iPad until they fall asleep. You can easily take up a few hours of your trip with naptime.
Bring along personal pillows, blankets, and toys to make a road trip easier for your toddler. A security blanket can be a big comfort for a child as they travel on his or her first road trip.
Your toddler will need more bathroom breaks thank you will-especially if potty training is an issue. Yes, you will have to plan on a later arrival time, but the road trip will be much more pleasant if your child has the opportunity to use the restroom as stretch out his or her legs.
When it comes to snacks, avoid anything that causes stains or is hard to open. All snacks should be easy for your child to handle on their own. Consider popcorn in a cup, Cheerios, crackers, etc. or other easy finger foods.
Pack all liquids in spill-proof sippy cups to avoid stain-inducing spills.
Especially with multi-day trips, take advantage of mealtimes. Stop at restaurants or fast food places that have areas for children to get out their energy. Stay an extra fifteen minutes and let your child play. Hopefully, it will tucker out your toddler and ensure a long, happy nap.
Time flies when your toddler is happily entertained instead of crying. Make the car ride funyou’re your child. Watching favourite television programs or movies can make time in the car feel like a special treat instead of captivity. Use a portable DVD player, a tablet, or a computer to entertain your child with movies and TV for hours.
Make fun playlists as well. Create fun, bonding memories as the family sings along to a few of your toddler's favourite songs.
Play simple road games as you drive along the road. Try I Spy, Name that Tune, I'm Thinking of an Animal (food, place, etc.), and Count the Cows (sheep, horses, cars, etc.).
Bumps, bruises, and headaches happen when you are on vacation. Prepare yourself with a basic first aid kit and medicine bag. Include the following items:
If your toddler decides they need to hold their favourite toy for a while, you don't want to remember packing it on the bottom of the pile on the trunk. The same goes for first aid kids, blankets, and snacks. Keep all of these items within arm's reach so you don't have to pull over to avoid a toddler tantrum.
Remember, there are bound to be a few bumps along the road, but if you arm yourself with these tips, you'll enjoy a memory-packed, low-stress road trip.