Traveling with Young Children
Road Trip Tips for Traveling With Children 0-4
Summer break is almost upon us and that means it is time for family vacations. One of the most common ways to travel is by car. While the thought of traveling by car with a child 0-4 can seem daunting, all you need is a little preparation and your trip should go smoothly.
1. Plan your route. Take the time map out your route. Take note of some of the gas stations and rest areas along the way. Plan to stop only if you have to (gas, someone drank too much coffee, or massive diaper incident.) Look for chain truck stops like Love’s and Pilot. They tend to have clean restrooms with changing tables for kiddos.
2. Pack a “Car Bag” for each child traveling. The bag should include their favorite toys and books as well as non-perishable snacks. Position the bags within easy reach so that they can grab things as they play.
3. Use the regular diaper bag as a Supplies bag. In this bag pack a changing kit for each child. This kit should include diapers, wipes, and a complete change of clothes or pajamas. For older kids include extra underwear. Also pack some emergency snacks (if they get bored of the ones they have) and some emergency toys (brand new toys they have never seen before works wonders).
4. Travel during your kiddos sleeping or napping hours. If you leave before the crack of dawn, pack up the car and get everything ready to go. Wake your child just enough for a diaper change and get them settled in the car and go. Otherwise plan a trip a few hours before a nap. They will have some excitement of starting the trip and then settle in for a nap.
5. Make the trip educational. Point out animals, cars, trucks, colors, anything you can find and make a game out of it. This is a great time to work on vocabulary with your older tots and to work on repetition.
6. As mentioned previously, plan to stop only if needed (gas). Once a toddler is out of the car it’s hard to get them back in. If you do want to get them out to stretch their legs, aim for a rest area where you can have a picnic lunch and run around for a little while. This makes returning to the car a little bit easier.
7. Most importantly make your travel day as flexible as possible. Don’t plan major time sensitive events for the day you are supposed to arrive to your destination (dinner reservations, show tickets, sunset cruises etc.). Infants and toddlers can be unpredictable. Instead plan to order pizza, take a dip in the hotel pool, and explore the area around your destination at your leisure.
Road trips are a great way to spend summer vacation. They allow you to pack as much or as little as you want, visit smaller less popular destinations, and you’ll have your own transportation wherever you end up. Road trips also provide families with quality time together talking and learning about their surroundings. As long as you are prepared, road trips are not something you should fear but something you should look forward to.
Author Note: Alicia Magera is a local Arizona blogger and owner of the blog, Moms Don’t Say That! In her blog she discusses parenting tips, family activities, and much more. You can also follow her on Facebook.