We recently took a car trip to Canberra from Sydney with our toddler to see Floriade. As we journeyed, these are the thoughts and ideas that came to me about surviving a long car trip with a toddler and other kids. (And yes, some of this did happen to us! ) So here are my musings on road trips with kids and toddler road trip essentials to make your trip more enjoyable.
Musings on road trips with kids.
Be well rested beforehand! A long drive and a cranky toddler is not something to handle on little sleep. Same goes for older kids who like to ask hundreds of questions.
Don’t let your toddler take off with one of their drink bottles before you leave the house. It will get left behind! Thank goodness you packed another!
Similarly for the older children, check that they have all things they require for the trip packed, as heading back home after an hour’s driving is not a nice option.
Train your children to like music you don’t mind listening to. Otherwise you’ll be stuck listening to the same album of children’s songs for hours on end! Or with older children give them a listening device and earphones.
Don’t put on moisturiser before feeding them at least 2 snacks. It is nearly impossible to open a packet of biscuits with your hands all smooth!
When you stop at McDonalds (as let’s face it, it’s one of the only regular stops on Australian Highways where you can get food fast enough to appease the ravenous toddler who just finished biscuits, a cheese Stringer and a banana), DON’T let the toddler catch sight of the children’s playground if you don’t have time for a play session. There will be major tantrums!!
Be prepared for the toddler to practise a variety of vocalisations in an attempt to amuse themselves.
If you stop and wake toddler for a break stop, it is doubtful they will sleep for the rest of the day. Choose carefully!
For the older kids pack some games they can play in the car without needing your help (particularly if you will be the only adult in the car). Lists of things they need to find can be good for those who are able to read. Electronic devices such as tablets or music players are very handy for game apps or movies to watch, providing they are charged before leaving. (Remember to pack all chargers for them too!)
Toddler road trip essentials
- Pack a snack bag with things that are easily managed by your toddler, and that won’t be too messy. Some things you could include: biscuits, cheese Stringers, yoghurt pouches, fruit, muesli bars, water bottle.
- Take a small basket of toys for the car trip and the time away. Nothing with little tiny pieces that can easily get lost. Of course, this basket will be upended to be used as a drum 30 minutes into the trip.
- Have a back seat mirror on the back headrest for your rear facing child. You can see them, and they can see you. Saves on the screaming! (well …sometimes it does. Let’s face it, sometimes these toddlers just want to experiment with screaming).
- A change of clothes in the nappy bag for drink bottle spills or nappy explosions is a great idea!
- A sleeping bag, blanket and comfort toy for bedtime can give familiarity to a strange location. Order a cot/crib for your toddler too if available.
- Take toddler-sized sunglasses as they will grizzle if the sun is in their eyes too long!
Hopefully following some of these tips, your next road trip with kids will be enjoyable. What essential thing do you think is required on a car trip with kids? Comment below.