One of my favorite memories as a child is getting in our family station wagon and heading out of town for a road trip with the family. We would pack up the trunk with what seemed like weeks of clothes, necessities, and food for a nice long weekend to the shore. There, we would explore a new town and build new memories. I can’t wait to start building on those wonderful memories with my own child.
I also remember the little disasters along the way. I thank my parents for not leaving us on the side of the road for a new family to find! On that note, I’m preparing our family as best as I can to avoid meltdowns as we travel down the highway.
Choosing the destination is our first task; while I often dream about settling in on a beach with book (y trago) en mano, the truth is a trip with a toddler is a whole different kind of vacation. Our beautiful and energetic three-year-old wants an adventure and loves to explore. And while a beach will definitely keep him entertained for hours, heading to a place with plenty of activities like amusement park rides or mini golf nearby is a great way for the whole family to stay entertained without ever hearing the words “We’re going there again?” again.
Once you’ve picked a destination that satisfies your craving for relaxation and your child’s cravings for adventure, properly preparing for the car ride ensures that you’ll all arrive in one piece.
Here are 5 rules to follow when prepping for a road trip with a toddler in tow:
- Bring snacks and beverages. There’s nothing worse than being unprepared, and chances are if your kids are anything like our son, they’re going to want a snack about seven minutes into the trip. Pack accordingly! Obviously beverages are going to come in handy to wash those snacks down with as well.
- Make a family playlist. Nothing quite brings us together like musica. And while we may not always agree on the same top 20 list (it’s shocking to my son, but Elmo’s latest hit isn’t number one on my list), now is the time to compromise. Create a list as a family that is going to please everyone. From Elmo, to the Beatles, to a little Bachata…mix it up!
- Take frequent rests along the way. Rest stops weren’t invented for nothing. With a toddler there’s bound to be potty breaks, and for mama y papa it will be a great sanity break for when you’ve heard “Are we there yet?” one too many times. You’ll get a chance to fuel up on a proper meal, stretch your legs, and recalibrate for the next few miles ahead.
- Prepare for some bellyaching. As a kid I was the queen of carsickness. My poor parents. If your kiddo is one that gets carsick, be prepared with bags, paper towels, a change of clothes, and cleaning supplies. Also, try to distract him or her from reading while driving. It’s a dangerous combo.
- Pack a good rotation of toys. When you’ve hit up all the rest stops along the way and you’re finally in the home stretch, you’re going to want to break out the big guns. Save all “the good toys” until the end of the trip. Before you know it you’ll arrive at your destination, ready to start the real adventure!