Road Trips With a Toddler
This blog post is long overdue! I have a very good friend who asked for this months ago, but I wasn’t really sure how to explain how brave or downright crazy we are. Road trips are already rough sometimes, but add a toddler and there are new obstacles added.
These are things we personally do in order to have a successful road trip with Calihan.
We make sure to try to stick to his normal schedule when it comes to starting our journey, stops, and when we arrive. Our Michigan trip is about 16.5 hours not including stops. My husband and I can handle overnight trips since I’m a night owl. We know our son sleeps 11-12 hours a night, so we purposely try to drive during the time he would be sleeping. We also start if we can, before his first nap. This is so hard because we want to stretch the time he wakes up until the time he takes a nap as far as we can without creating a monster! This is what our typical schedule looks like driving to Michigan from Texas!
2-3pm: leave! (Cal sleeps because he hasn’t had a nap)
6pm ish: stop for dinner and gas - since it’s a pandemic we don’t go in anywhere. We grab fast food and eat it in the car. We have Calihan hang out with us in the front while we all eat, listen to music, and let him jump around. This stop is about 40 minutes since we don’t rush.
We then put him in an overnight diaper and pajamas! His normal bed time is 7-7:30pm.
At this point we are about 4 hours into the journey.
7pm-7am: he will normally sleep like normal. We stop just for gas quickly when we need it, and make it as quick as possible. We really luck out because it’s two of us so if we have to go to the restroom - we don’t have to take Calihan out of his seat.
7am-9:30am: Normally we arrive before 9:30am Michigan time so 8:30am Texas time. This means we have about 1.5 hours between the time Calihan wakes up and the time we arrive. This is normally when he gets uncomfortable and so I will go in the backseat with him and read him a book, etc. We are not big on medicine, but of course we will give him something the doctor recommends if he’s uncomfortable! He’s pretty used to the drives now, so he normally dances to music in the back now.
2. Quick snacks
I believe we save a ton of time by having food items that Calihan can have in the car without us being nervous he could choke. When we do give him food items it’s either dinner with us, or soft granola bars when I’m in the back with him. When we first drove down to Texas, Calihan was only three months. I remember having to stop every 2-3 hours in order to feed him. Now that he is older, he will eat at the same times we do most times!
This seems obvious, but honestly patience is key. We know that not everything will go to plan. We made the mistake of letting Calihan watch a dinosaur book reading on his tablet and he had motion sickness. He ended up throwing up all over himself and his seat. We should have known it was a bad idea considering he has never been interested in electronics and was acting strange ten minutes prior. We pulled over and wiped everything down, changed him, cuddled him, and put food in his stomach when he was ready. This was not something we expected and delayed our arrival time by quite a bit! We felt horrible for him and so he received lots of cuddles.
4. Be ready for anything
This leads me to talk about motion sickness! Be ready for anything. I would recommend not using tablets to keep your child occupied if you do not know how they will react. Another tip for motion sickness is to check the temperature in the back of the car. If the heat is blasting in the back, this can also cause a reaction!
5. Makes sure everything is easy to get to that you might need!
We keep the diaper bag handy at any point. Ours is from Protea Lane and has just about a million pockets which makes it easy to keep everything in one spot! We always bring the extra clothes, lots of diapers, snacks, wipes, bags incase something gets messy, etc all in the bag. The bag is then easy to get to in the car. Toys or distractions should also be easy to get to! I like to be able to reach back and hand Calihan anything he needs without being in an unsafe position. We also make sure he has his sippy cup filled with water with him incase he gets thirsty.
I hope some of these tips can help make your road trip easier to manage! xo