As you may know, Gregory and I are really big fans of going on a road trip. Exploring our beautiful province is not something I have really had the luxury of doing until just recently in my adulthood. Growing up on an island limits your exploring to when your parents can save up enough money to travel off by boat or plane. Both of which have price inflation every year making it harder and harder to do so.
Now that I live on the lower mainland, I have access to the world it feels like. I am definitely trying to take advantage and show my Bean as much of the world as I can. Today I wanted to share with you some tips on how I manage to keep both my son, and ME, happy during road trips. Many a road trip tested and toddler approved.
If you’ve been around ourRADhouse.com, then no doubt you’ve come by one of my more recent series on the blog roll, the Travel series. It’s so much fun being able to explore with Gregory and let him discover nature and the beauty it has to offer. The best thing? We never really have to travel very far. I mean, we road trip for several hours, sure. But travelling doesn’t mean trains, planes and cruise ships.
I think it’s important to consider a staycation when planning to travel. Explore your area for all it is worth and appreciate where you are from. It makes you appreciate where you travel to when you go farther away from home. I’ve been to Hawaii, it was amazing. But I have hike all around Vancouver area and love my city more than that Tropical destination. Sure, it’s a wonderful treat in the winter, but my city holds gorgeous hidden gems waiting for me to discover.
Moral of this: A simple car ride and outlook of an adventure is the perfect way to travel on the regular, and explore the world.#RoadTripTip Don't think because I'm a parent I can't go on adventures anymore... check it Click To Tweet
Toddler Road Trip Tips
I feel as if I’ve gotten a hang of having a successful road trip with my 2 year old and want to share some of my tips to have other parents have a successful road trip too.
TIP #1 – Accept and Move On
The most important tip: when things go wrong, as they will not always go as you planned, don’t think of it as wrong. For sure, it is a major inconvenience and perhaps you have a major melt down on the side of the road not sure what to do next. My tip is have the melt down, accept it, and move on. MOVE ON! Experience that emotion for all it is– that is what my wise friend told me- experience it, accept it, and you can move on happier with your life.
That woman is a blessing to my life.
Road trips are adventures, treat it like such. Adventures in novels, TV shows and Movies have all sorts of twists and turns. The main characters get into all sorts of shenanigans and needs to manage to steer back on track. Sometimes at the end everyone looks beat down, sometimes at the end everyone is happy because everything worked out. The point is you are on an adventure, accept when things take a left turn and roll with it.
We didn’t realize we were making memories. We just knew we were having fun. #quote #inspiration #adventure #motivation #roadtrip #explore #discover #friends #happy #pursuitofhappiness #ambition #success #friendship #goals #happymemories #liveauthentic #carpediem #laugh #love 🙋Until next time, my friend
TIP #2 – Plan Your Trip
This seems rather silly after I say things don’t always go as planned. But it is important to plan out your trip. Like, as much as possible. Here are a few things I consider and try to plan when I create my road trip itinerary.
- Where is my final destination?
- Who is going with me?
- What time do I want to be there?
- What time do I need to leave?
- What time do I want to be home?
- Will I need a meal?
Once I have these questions answered, I usually have my first draft complete. Yes, my first draft. Planning a road trip with a toddler isn’t easy. Well, I actually use tip #2 for every road trip, just to be prepared. Here is part two of things to consider when planning your trip.
- Are there any scenic pit stops I want to stop at?
- How long will this take?
- How long will my original destination exploration take?
- How long will it take to drive between destinations?
- What time do I need to leave home?
- What time do I want to be home?
- Will I need a meal?
This process is pretty repetitive from here on out, tweeking times and destinations until my trip looks good to me. Ready for one more list? Here are a few tips I have when planning your trip.
4 Things to Consider when Planning your Road Trip
- Plan to leave early. On your schedule, put a time to be in the car that you hope to be travelling by. Now, push that time back 15 minutes and write that down. This way, if by chance you are late, you are still good for time. If you are on time/early, you are ahead of the game.
- Plan pit stops. If your trip is longer than 2 hours, plan pit stops. This is a no brainer for anyone driving, but this is a major help for road tripping with kids. Stretch their legs, potty breaks, snack/drink pick ups, collect the toys in the car and let them outside to explore for 15-30 minutes. Either at a look out point or find a mini destination to explore.
- Allot extra time. When driving, at your pit stops, at your destinations…. and the time you’ll arrive home. Always allot extra time on your itinerary because you may never be on time. From snack breaks, traffic, potty breaks, gas stops and last minute pull offs to explore somewhere spontaneously, there will be something that will have you running late. So plan ahead to be behind to run on time.
- Plan smart stops. After writing what you think is your final road trip map, look it over once more and decide if this is a prime route for you. Are you taking large detours? Is it worth it? Can you reroute so you have a more straight/looped path without detouring too far away? Plan stops on your trip always keeping in mind that you want it to be a smooth ride. There is always time for another road trip, discover cool stops along your easily navigated route. Keep it easy breezy, don’t make it harder on yourself by making yourself backtrack a lot.
Tip #3 – Prepare a Toddler Box
I love preparing Gregory’s Toddler Box in the car. I got inspired by it from my friend who posted a photo on her instagram. Look at the genius idea of organizing the toys in a box. I commended her on the idea and created my own basically the next day and haven’t looked back since. Here is my toddler box and what I put inside mine on my recent road trip to the Enchanted Forest in Revelstoke.
Snacks – At an arms reach, without needing mom or dads help to open preferable.
Small Hand Held Toys – Something that matches another book or toy, or that can stand on its own for entertainment.
Cards of Some Sort – educational or otherwise, these are great entertainment. Also can cause a great mess.
Chap Stick – Dry mouth & lips on road trips is not fun. Plus, this is fun for kids, self care.
Doodle Book – Perfect for no stress, no mess colouring
CD with Book – Perfect to play and entertain your toddler while you get a break from whatever they may be doing in the back seat.
Electronic Device – If you can manage an iPod, iPad, iTouch, Tablet, Portable DVD player or whatever… these are really useful and no one should deny themselves the quiet reprieve a video can get them while driving.
Electronic Toy – At least one, hopefully you don’t find it annoying.
Surprise Toy – Gregory loves surprise eggs, I always keep one with a little something fun to discover inside. This one had a hotwheels car.
Stuffed Animal – I like to rotate Gregory’s stuffed animals in the house, and this is also a perfect make shift pillow/head prop should one be needed. The bigger and plushier the better. The smaller and more handheld the more fun while awake. We bring a small and jumbo animal along most trips.
Books – And of course, a whole lot of regular books. Gregory loves interactive books, so we tend to hit up the library and thrift store to find something new and fun.
Tip #4 – Music and Audio Books
Keep your children entertained by having music play. Sing along, sing nursery rhymes, play the top 100, play a baby Mozart CD… whatever it is, get shaking, snap your fingers, test out your vocal chords and have fun. Being silly is what kids do best, make memories and have them look forward to silly mom/dad during road trips.
Audio books are also my favourite, for any car ride. For kids, head on over to your local library and find the children’s audio book section. I love finding an audio book and corresponding book that Gregory can also flip through as we listen and drive. Children are always listening, give them something to listen to and put their imagination to work. Even at two, Gregory enjoys them.
Tip #5 – Travel at Night
This is a recent discovery for me, and one that I am glad to say I struggled through the first time and have grown to love. TRAVEL AT NIGHT! Seriously, if you are going on a long trip, aka, more than 4 hours, travel at night and save yourself this precious face when you tell them you’re going for a long car ride.
Prepare for your trip all day, eat dinner, get the kids ready for bed (teeth, pj’s nightly vitamins, etc) and instead of reading them a story in bed, read one in the car after you buckle them in. Then, start the car and drive.
Chances are they will not know what is happening so they won’t go to sleep right away. If you planned a busy prep day, maybe they’ll be exhausted and pass right out. The point is, they will fall asleep eventually. Drive while they are asleep, drive as long as you can, as long as you feel comfortable. Then pull over to a rest stop or at a Wal-Mart parking lot and catch a few hours of shut eye yourself.
I can usually go on a few hours of sleep in the car at night if I have a 1-2 hour nap on prep day. The adrenaline and excitement of the adventure has me rearing to go the next day. I am not extremely tired from a crappy sleep in a car– It’s one night, I’ll sleep when I’m dead. I’ll adventure while I’m living.
Side Note: The first time I did this I had major anxiety and felt like a horrible mom. What mom has her kid sleep in the car just for a silly trip I wanted to take? In all, Gregory did amazing, snuggled up with a blanket and jumbo teddy bear as a pillow, this kid fell asleep after letting me know it was getting dark outside. #Adorable When I was ready for a nap, I crawled into the backseat and unbuckled him to lay on me as we stretched out across the back seat. It was a really sweet moment and I will do the night travelling again for sure.
Before You Go
There you have it, my 5 RAD Road Trip tips for adventuring with a toddler, my how to plan a road trip quick guide, and the genius toddler toy box. It’s almost the weekend, plan your next family adventure for this weekend.
Are you in Vancouver? Check out Cypress Falls, Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge or Lighthouse Park. Ready for a road trip? Check out The Shannon Falls and Stawamus Chief in Squamish, the Snow Walls in Whistler, or maybe the Othello Tunnels in Hope. Ready for a Ferry Ride? Head on over to Vancouver island and check out the Wacky Woods, or Hole in the Wall. Happy Adventuring!