Roadtripping with a baby and a toddler

So while I was last week explaining why I consider plane travel with little children easier than roadtrips, we did tour around in Florida on our previous vacation.

So do I consider road travel with children easier after all?   No I do not. Not for long road trips, only for shorter stretches of road.  And so that's how we plan our vacation: we chop up the rides much shorter than we would have done if we were just travelling without children. We also chose several days where we stay at one location without driving on, so we don't need to pack up each day either.

Florida is quite urbanised so all destinations weren't too far from each other. Each driving day required 2-4hours of driving maximum. If you combine that with excursions, stops and activities, that is quite feasible.

Here's some tips if you consider to make a road trip with small children.
  1. Order the appropriate child seats with your rental car company up front. Safety first! It is important to have the right child seat for their age and size.
    Big international rental companies have a stack of child seats and have them ready, although you usually have to wait a moment for someone to come and deliver them once you've received your rental car. Once we rented from a small unknown company and it turned out they had to go and borrow our reserved seats from the other rental companies at the airport.
    Not a single time were they pre-installed despite our up front reservations.  We always ask the rental company to install the seats for us while we ask info, so we are certain they are correctly installed.

    (obviously this doesn't count if you travel with your own car, assuming you already have the correct child seats).
  2. Size of car needs to fit luggage and strollers: Remember when you rent a car that you don't only need to fit the luggage but also the strollers into the car. So chances are you want to upgrade the class of rental a size bigger than when you were just travelling adults only.
  3. Sun shades.  Vacation is often - hopefully- in a sunnier destination than at home.  We notice that the bright sun can bother the children so it's handy if the car comes with sun shades on the side  or if you can put some of those cheap foldable ones in the suitcase.  Shade helps them nap!
    Otherwise, a small towel stuck in the side window can do the trick as well. That's how I travelled when I was a child myself :).
  4. A small mirror.  I love seeing my children so I adore those little back looking mirrors that enable me to see my children in the backseat while I sit in the front seat, without having to turn around all the time.  Once the children are a bit older, they also learn they can see you there and it becomes a mean of communication.
    More and more cars are equipped with wide angle back looking mirrors, but since you don't know that for sure, I try to remember throwing one in my luggage.
  5. Drive during nap time.  When we see that Beertje is getting tired, it is often the cue to hit the road again.  There is nothing more easy than driving with one or two sleeping children!

    At this moment Beertje is still used to having 2 naps (although it's rather flexible) so it usually worked out to get up, get ready at ease, have long breakfast, pack up things  and hit the road and allow him to take a morning nap.  Then we could have a visit somewhere and lunch and then we drove on again mid-afternoon only to arrive somewhere in our new hotel at an early evening...just in time for another swim and then going out to the restaurant, some more playing and bed time.

    But as stated, it's rather flexible so it was possible to do already a visit in the morning and then drive at noon (after early lunch or before a very late lunch).  He'd simply be more tired from the visit.
  6. Tissues at hand
    We always buy one of the first days a tissue box that is parked centrally in the car for all to use.  Tissues are good for wiping noses but cleaning candy faces and cleaning so much more.
  7. Cookies: As stated in my previous post on travelling with little children: cookies solve 80% of all issues with little children.  We always have a big box of mini cookies in the car that can be distributed. it's a bonus if these are e.g. animal shaped so they can also be used in phantasy stories on the back seat.
  8. Roadtrip music
    Before I became a mother, I was convinced I'd not fall in the trap of child music.  I'd teach my children right away the value of good rock music, music classics etc.  Well...I think we've listened for 70% of the time in the car to Mega Mindy, Rox and other Studio 100 music.

    A music list available that your children enjoy (and can sing along etc) is great entertainment and can kill the driving hours easily.  And hey...when your children are having fun and creating a party on the backseat, the parents are happy too! So thank you Mega Mindy!
  9. Make regular stops and if you have a potty trained child, ensure (s)he goes to the toilet each time in order to avoid unplanned extra stops or accidents. 


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