Road trips can be both a source of fun and frustration for the parent. When it comes to the most important things for a toddler, safety and security are paramount. This does not mean packing the cheapest stuff you can find or taking your family on the shortest trip you can find; rather it means being prepared and thinking through a plan. There are a number of basic steps that you can take as you plan your next road trip with a toddler. These simple steps are likely to make your trip much more enjoyable.

The first thing is to consider the age of your child and what they are capable of doing. If your child is two or three years old you may feel free to start planning a longer road trip, but if they are just beginning to toddle it may be a better idea to limit the journey to a short drive. When you are travelling with a toddler, you will often find that there are many activities that you can include in your trip. The more you cover in advance the less stressful it will be on your child, so start by mapping out some activities that you would both enjoy.

Once you have planned the activities you will be doing it’s time to put your thinking cap on and think about safety. It’s obvious that you want to ensure the health and safety of your child but this doesn’t mean that you have to neglect the practicalities of everyday life. You need to ensure that your child is kept dry and that you have taken all precautions to ensure that your toddler won’t end up stranded if something goes wrong. For the sake of convenience don’t try to skimp on toilet and washing facilities. A pack a kettle and a warm mug and you’ll be able to make the journey.

A good way to keep your toddler busy while on a road trip is to offer a variety of different foods. There is nothing worse than having to carry a meal with you as you’re driving. Keep some snacks and bars on board to keep your toddler happy. Don’t limit yourself to the usual chocolate bars and tinned fruit, there is a range of delicious meals available that won’t take up too much room in your car.

If you have chosen to go away for the night rather than take a road trip then you will need to pack suitable footwear. Be sure to choose shoes that are easy to clean, breathable and that won’t cause any discomfort for your toddler. Most toddlers can withstand walking for a few hours but if they get tired it can be hard work bending over. There are plenty of options available so you should easily be able to find toddler shoes to fit your needs. You’ll also need warm clothes to keep them warm and dry.

There’s nothing worse than seeing a child hungry and dehydrated on a trip. Ensure that you pack plenty of food and drinks and also take some dry food with you. You might not want to go through the trouble of making your own food as commercially prepared foods are often packed with chemicals and preservatives that can harm young children. If you don’t feel like making your own food, there are plenty of healthy options available. Ensure that your child has enough to eat and drink within an hour or two as children have a tendency to move from their sleeping bags to eating out of cups.

Night time can be a difficult time for children. They may feel anxious and restless and it’s easy to blame it all on the trip. Take control of the situation by being calm and reassuring. Explain to your child that it’s alright and that you’ve planned for this situation. Encourage them to go to sleep and soon you’ll be relaxing and enjoying your road trip. Don’t try to make up for lost sleep by going to the nearby park or asking your child to stay awake for another half an hour as they’ll not be able to cope with a second round of sleep.

Another tip is to keep the vehicle engine running so that you can be reassured that your child is safe. You can also take your child to safety at any of the gas stations along the route and let them explore the different smells and sounds. You need to prepare your child for the unexpected; plan a road trip ahead of time and make sure that you and your child get through the journey both safely and comfortably.

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