Road trips can be ideal for a family getaway.
After all, you’re not tied to any timetables, you don’t need to struggle lugging heavy bags around, and you get to be in full control of your own journey.
However, any parent will know that a toddler stuck in a car for a few hours doesn’t exactly make for a stress-free drive.
The good news is that are simple ways to make the journey a little easier, whether it’s keeping the kids entertained or packing the right essentials.
Toilet breaks, hunger pangs, moaning, fighting with siblings and generally needing to be entertained can make even the sweetest of toddlers become a nightmare during a long drive.
To give parents a helping hand, the team of experts at StressFreeCarRental.com have shared their top 10 tips for a stress-free road trip with toddlers.
Check out their top tips below…
1. Pack your toddler’s essentials separately
Keep a separate bag including a change of clothes, nappies, snacks and drinks, and toys which you keep by your side during the drive. The last thing you need is to have to stop to get these essentials out of the boot, adding more time to your journey.
2. Snacks are a secret weapon
Healthy or unhealthy, snacks are a must if you’re going on a long drive. Opt for rations or create a ‘goody bag’ with some treats for well-behaved toddlers.
3. Everyone out
Any time you have to stop for food, fuel or a toilet break, make sure the whole family gets out to stretch their legs. It means everyone gets a break – and may save you extra toilet stops along the way.
4. A detour could make all the difference
When you plan your journey, research if there are any stops along the way that could be interesting for the kids.
Search online in advance for playgrounds and parks, any nice beaches, kid-friendly cafes, museums, wildlife parks and more that could make the journey more exciting and break it up.
5. Consider bending the rules
A sugary snack or extra time on the iPad may usually be off the cards, but if it means keeping your toddler happy for that extra half hour, those concessions can really pay off and keep the trip stress-free.
6. Gadgets can help
If you have a tablet or a similar gadget, bring it along. Before the trip, download some child-friendly films, or their favourite shows. It’s a quick and easy way to keep your toddler entertained for a stretch of the drive!
7. Add buffer time
Realistically, road trips often take longer than expected, so give yourself a bit of buffer time. For example, if you’ve got planned stops, add an extra 10-15 minutes in case you don’t get back into the car as quickly as you thought you would.
8. Drive overnight
If you’re off on a long weekend, an overnight drive could be helpful as it can help maintain your toddler’s sleeping pattern. Of course, parents may be a little tired – but it won’t be the same as having to deal with an exhausted, grumpy toddler!
9. Early check-in
Early check-in is obviously ideal if you’re driving and arrive in the morning, but don’t want to hang around waiting for your room in the afternoon.
Call the hotel before your trip – if you can’t check in early, find out if you’ll be able to park your car at the site if you arrive before check in. It means you can ditch the car, do some exploring, and give your toddler time to expend some pent up energy after the long journey.
10. Keep on top of rubbish
Toddlers are messy – and that mess can quickly pile up during a road trip, so you may want to pack a couple of bin bags. You can use stops at services to throw the rubbish away, meaning you don’t have a huge pile to deal with when you arrive on your holiday.