Road Trip with a Kid – 9 Practical Tips
Our family has traveled quite a few kilometers by car. Long distance driving can be exhausting, but you can make it more pleasant by preparing for it beforehand. The most important thing is to enjoy the road trip without rushing.
1. Safety comes first
- Make sure the baby car seat is securely installed before you head on the road.
- Make sure you have all the important documents with you, including the number of your roadside assistance service.
- Always have a first aid kit and enough water with you (extra advice: during a longer drive encourage your child to drink more than usual since the AC can cause dehydration and the child can become exhausted; don’t forget to drink yourself!)
- Don’t forget to charge your phone before a longer trip and don’t forget to take a car adapter.
- The most important thing – get a good night sleep before the trip.
2. Time planning
- Plan enough spare time for the trip to your destination.
- Consider your child’s nap timetable when you are planning a longer drive.
- If your child sleeps well in a car, include his or her daily naps (or night sleep) in the ride.
- If you are planning a trip around lunchtime, we recommend your child eats lunch in the car. This way you can easily buy yourself an extra hour
3. Stops on the way
- If you are going on a longer trip, we suggest you split it into several shorter parts. End each drive with a stop at a petrol station with a playground, a tourist attraction, a park, or at the beach.
- Do not expect to drive for 7 hours straight with a child who is awake. If you can, use the time when the child is sleeping to drive without stops. When the child is awake, make a stop on every 2-3 hours. This way, everyone can take a break from driving, and the child can take out all of the excess energy.
- Planning stops – do an online check for all child-friendly stops, parks, and playgrounds on the way and include them in your itinerary.
- Make short stops to change nappies or, for bigger children to go to the toilet.
4. The necessary (and easily accessible) equipment
- Pack everything you need in a special bag and have it near you at all times.
- Keep jackets, hats, suntan lotion, and mosquito repellents in a separate and easily accessible bag. This will come in handy when you take short stops.
- If you are heading off to the seaside don’t forget towels and swimwear – a coastal ride and a quick jump in the water can be quite refreshing.
- Alway keep a set of spare clothes and pyjamas with you, especially if you are planning a night drive.
- A blanket and a pillow for the little one to rest on.
- A bottle of disinfectant – a great way to clean your hands when you are having a picnic.
- Cleaning wipes are useful regardless of your child’s age – for cleaning the face and dirty hands, cleaning the car and other dirty surfaces – and a waste bag.
- Toothbrush, toothpaste and a small towel to maintain the child’s everyday cleaning / hygiene routine.
5. Having fun in the back seat
- Time will fly faster for the child if someone sits next to him or her. We recommend that one parent sits in the back seat if you are planning a longer drive – it will be easier for you to accommodate your child’s wishes.
6. Toys and other delights for a more pleasant trip
- For babies – take different toys that you can tie somewhere or stick to the baby seat so that the child does not get bored if he is still too little to reach the window.
- For older children (2+) – place a box of toys next to the child’s seat if you have enough room, and the child will pick his or her own toys.
- Take his favourite toys, books, blankets, and a tablet with animated films (extra advice if you do not have Internet access: use Protube to upload your child’s favourite cartoons)
- For outside stops take a ball and other toys your child uses outside.
- You cannot go without soap bubbles – in, or outside the car.
7. Snacks on the road
- On the day of departure forget all the rules about eating in the car. Time will move faster for you and the child.
- Snacks on the road save a lot time, and you can stop later when everybody needs a break.
- Have your drinks and food always nearby.
- Pack healthy snacks, for example: dried fruits, fruits like banana, apple slices, grapes, etc., salty snacks, buns, slices of cheese, rice or corn waffles, or even a warm meal for a longer drive. Don’t take too much sweets – you do not want the child getting too lively.
- Avoid some foods that are too messy: most of the fruits, yoghurt, juices in cartons (especially smaller children like to spill)
- Drink your fluids from spillproof bottles or glasses.
- Even if you take snacks with you, we recommend stopping for lunch on the way – parks or rest areas with playgrounds can be a great place for a picnic where the child can play at the same time.
- Keep fresh food and drinks in a cooling case if possible, or put them in a freezing bag with some ice cubes.
- Always keep cleaning wipes, paper towels and a waste bag near you.
- Use plastic cutlery.
8. When the “road” gets tough
- You will experience an outburst of stubbornness or crying, especially when travelling long distance.
- If snacks don’t do the trick, try singing, watching cartoons, changing the nappy or the following:
- Ignore it – the child is fine and will probably calm himself (eventually).
- Sit next to the child; this is especially helpful for children aged 2+. This way, you can keep the child company, try to please his wishes or play with him.
- Most importantly, try to make a stop as soon as possible.
9. Accessories for extra comfort
- Travel health kit
- Portable toilet seat (we use Potette Plus) is great to have on longer drives or on public toilets where you can use it as a hygienic shield for the seat. You can also put a plastic bag on the seat and use it as a portable toilet.
- Take a lot of Ziplock bags with you; you will be able to store food leftovers or drinks, toys, dirty nappies, wet underwear, etc. Alway keep some bags in you handbag or changing bag.
- Night lamp
Despite lasting longer than other ways of transportation, car travel brings with it a few perks for you and the little ones.
The 5 perks of car travel:
- Most often, this is the cheapest way to travel.
- You can take stops whenever you wish, or need to take them.
- Divide the travelling time into several parts and as many stops as you wish.
- Visiting new places and attractions (for children) on the way.
- Your car – your rules
The statistics of our longest car travels:
- Ljubljana (Slo) – Köln (De) = 990 km, stops on petrol stations with playgrounds; age of child on the road – baby, toddler, now a three-year-old child
- Ljubljana (Slo) – Athens (Gr) = 1700 km, stops on petrol stations with playgrounds; age of child on the road: 2 years and 2 months
The above descriptions are based on personal impressions and experiences gained while travelling with my family. For more information, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org