Road Trip Planning and Preparation
In just a few short weeks, we will be taking our first family road trip with our toddler. My husband and I have been on several road trips together but having a toddler with us will be a whole different experience.
In part 2 I will share life lessons learned. What worked, what didn’t and what I will change for next time.
Before being brave enough to venture on a road trip, we have taken several smaller trips with our daughter. This has given us insight into some of the challenges we might face. Some of the things we took in to account when we planned this trip.
- We have to stop every 2 to 3 hours and let her run around. Simply taking her into a rest stop to eat and walk around is not enough. She needs to expend her energy for at least 20 minutes before we can think about putting her back in the car.
- She does not sleep in the car. People tell me all the time to drive at night or nap time, that all babies sleep in the car. Nope. Not my child.
- She has a difficult time sleeping in new places and different beds. And little sleep for her we all know means little sleep for us. We will be bringing our own Pack n play, hoping it might be comforting to have a familiar bed.
We used Google Maps and Trip Advisor to help us map out our trip. First we entered our start and end destinations into Google maps to find the total distance and time we needed to drive. Which for this trip is 12 hours. Next we looked to for a place to stop about every 2-3 hours since that is the threshold for our time in the car. Some locations we looked for something fun to do that was close to the highway. If there was nothing that interested us, we crossed it off the list and kept looking for another town. Others we looked for a place to spend the night. We checked the ratings and prices of the hotels on Trip Advisor. I recommend staying at a hotel with free breakfast, as we have found it saves time.
We are planning to stop at children’s museums, parks, and even a themed rest stop.
But our planning didn’t stop there. What if it rains and we can’t stop at the park? What if we hit traffic or bad weather and aren’t able to travel as far as we hoped? Then reality set in that our toddler delay us for a million different reasons. These are all things that went through our minds. So we went back to the map and created a back up plan. We found some restaurants with indoor play areas if we can’t go to the park. We even picked out back up places to stay. But most of all we know we have to be flexible. We are looking at our first family road trip as a learning experience.
Something that also helped is that we have done this drive before and know a few areas that we have hit traffic in the past. In those areas we made the stops closer together figuring that although it says 2 hours it will probably be 3 or more.
The first thing that comes to my mind when packing for any overnight stay is… How does someone so small need so much stuff!
Next is the lists and then my lists get lists. Just thinking about it gets my head spinning. I start with the big things, portable crib, stroller and travel high chair. Then what we need for night time, feeding time, clothes, toiletries and finally an emergency kit.
Definitely can’t forget the all important toys and books. I like to bring a mix of new and favorites.
I like to use a red case so that it is easy to find.
- toothbrush and cover
- Shampoo/body wash
- nail clipper
Top 5 Tips for Planning a Road Trip
- Start with smaller overnight trips and work up to a road trip.
- Know how long your child can stay in the car before getting fussy.
- Find fun things to do along the way.
- Bring some new and some favorite books, toys and dolls from home.
- Be flexible!