I know what you are thinking. Planning road trips with toddlers and being stuck in a car with a toddler for an extended length of time is not exactly on most Mummy’s fun list.
I was super nervous about the trip we recently took but ended up eating my words. We had an absolute dream trip to and from Esperance, Western Australia which is about 7.5 hours away from my home. I couldn’t wish for a better trip.
Here are my top tips for traveling on road trips with toddlers.
1. Lucky Dip
I went to the local Red Dot Store (or you can go to a $2 dollar shop) and bought a heap of tiny toys. I then wrapped each one up individually and let my son open one as soon as we left town.
I then told my son he could open his next one every hour, on the hour. He was super excited about his “prizes”.
Every time he opened one, it was a surprise and I made sure I bought him things he loved like little cars, fire trucks, stickers etc. This kept him very engaged and he would play with them for ages. There were sometimes he didn’t make it to the hour, but if I felt he was getting upset or grizzly, out would come to the Lucky Dip Bag.
You must have plenty of food options for the journey. I made a batch of mini quiches which are not everyday food for my toddler, but ones he enjoys. Other great food on hand was sandwiches and fruit pouches as they are easily eaten in the car. We also included little packets of chips which is not something he gets at home often and all the more exciting for a special treat. I do recommend staying away from anything sugary as it will only add to high energy which is what you don’t want on a car journey!
Having a bottle pre-made for before nap time if your little person is still having them is also useful as well as drinks. We stick to water as the only drink Dylan has other than milk. If you choose to give your child juice just be aware of the high sugar content could give them a sugar hit which results in high energy.
3. Essential Oils
We use essential oils every day already in our home as it brings so many benefits. For toddler taming and calming there is nothing better. Before we got in the car, I use doTERRA’s Peace Touch roller on his feet, pulse points on his wrist and neck. It has a unique ability to help keep him calm. I even use this on myself as I am not the best at road trips. Before he was ready for a nap, I used the doTERRA Calm roller. We use this every night before bedtime so the smell immediately connects with his brain to invoke feelings of relaxation and calm.
For mummy and daddy, we also found the oils useful. I personally also used Balance for my Road Trip anxiety and Peppermint for headaches along the way. My partner Ben did the whole drive and he popped some Mito 2 Max supplements mid way to help give him a boost of energy. These are from whole food extracts so all natural and designed to give sustainable energy.
4. Other entertainment
I bought a bag of 100 blocks from the $2 store and put these in a large pencil case. My son loves to build things and then destroy them. He spent ages playing with these in between snacks and his hourly “prizes”
I did prepare an iPad for the journey. This was considered a last resort for me as my son is fascinated by YouTube Kids and the way he can interact and change the videos. Unfortunately, regional Western Australia does not have great mobile coverage so I knew he wouldn’t be happy to watch a movie like most kids. On our return journey home, he did end up using this in the last hour or so and thankfully the internet was available via my phone hot spot. For the first trip, we didn’t need it at all (7 1/2 hours).
Luckily for us, after nearly 5 hours on the trip down, our son fell asleep for about 2 1/2 hours by which we had nearly arrived. If your child has a toy or blanket which they find soothing to sleep with, make sure you bring it along. I would rather pack more things to make our lives easier than to leave something at home that could be useful and wish for it later.
6. Be organised
Give some thought in advance to what you will pack for the trip, how you want to entertain your child and how you will pack your car. Have everything in arms reach is a must (as well as keeping it out of their reach too!)
Plan your journey, if you think you will need to stop for short breaks to stretch your legs, research which towns have parks or interesting spots along the way. Perhaps a picnic by the river will be an opportunity for a memorable moment for you all.
If you plan to stop, have some things ready to entertain your toddler. Footballs or bubbles are a great start.
Just because it’s a road trip doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Sometimes the journey is the fun.
Once you get to your destination, you can enjoy your family and the time to make memories.
I hope these tips have helped you for your next road trips with toddlers.