There occur tremendous changes in life after a woman don’s the MOM HAT!!! Well, I’d rather not get started on that.
But speaking of change – the one thing that changed majorly was how my husband and I travelled. We did satiate our wander-lust after having a baby. But from the mode of transport, to the location, to the luggage, to the weather and every minutest of the detail was decided keeping our baby in perspective. Some would say road trips are the easiest to make, and some may reject that downright. Let me confess, the idea of a road trip with a baby made me fret. But having made several road trips with a baby and now a toddler, trust me road trips with toddlers need more preparations.
The three of us recently made a road trip from Nashik to Trimbukeshwar to Shirdi and back to Mumbai. (Basically twelve hours of drive, one way) and we did not just survive the trip but enjoyed every minute of it. So if you are planning a road trip with a toddler, here are a few things I’d like to say to you.
#1 Safety Is Always First
When traveling with a baby, one does need to take a few safety precautions. Make sure the baby car seat is safely installed. You’d be traveling at odd hours through unknown routes. Make sure you carry basic medicines for yourself and your baby, a first aid kit, plenty of water, flash light (if your phone does not have one), phone charger, and make sure the car safety equipments are in place.
#2 Pack the food strategically
Toddlers have their taste buds well developed and mood swings worse than you have seen during your pregnancy. He may not like the food that is served at every place. Make sure you carry his favourite dry snack items. My food bag consisted of some nuts, dry fruits, dry bhel, biscuits, Chakli, apples, Khakhra and paratha. Pack the foods in small zip lock pouches – have one portion ready in a small pouch. So that way you’d know how much has been eaten and you can avoid mess in the car. Look for kid-friendly restaurants on the internet around your location during meal times. And your toddler is on a vacation too – don’t go overboard but allow an occasional treat of French fries.
#3 Keep the Baby bag handy
Packing bags strategically will not only make your trip stress free but also make room in the car. Pack a separate bag with – diapers, baby wipes, extra pair of comfortable clothes for the baby and for you, water, nursing cover, feeding sipper, small paper bags to throw trash in, and napkins. With the diaper bag handy, you can put the rest of your luggage in the boot to make enough room in the car.
#4 Spend time with the toddler
Or I am sure he will make you do that. The best way to keep them engaged is to hold fun yet meaningful conversations with them. Talk about what you see around, count the white cars on the street, narrate a story or just talk about anything under the sun. My son observed the scenic beauty in this road trip and talks about giant mountains and tall trees at home everyday.
#5 Pull Over
The best part about travelling by road is that you can pull over as many times you want. Make sure you stop every couple of hours or as many times as you or your baby need a break. Not restricting ourselves with timelines helped us have fun instead of rushing over.
#6 Keep the entertainment going
That was honestly the difficult part. Keeping him entertained through long hours was a challenge. Like mentioned below we did hold conversations with him, cycled between toys, play doh ( carry one big chunk to avoid mess), books and even finger foods. But at the end it felt like we got some quality time to spend with each other. Don’t forget to carry your child’s favourite toys, books, foods or anything that can keep him occupied for a while.
#7 Music is not just fun but therapeutic
There is a suitable tune for every mood. Whether a baby is cranky or sleepy or cheerful the right kind of music makes the good situation better and the not-so-good one atleast better. Playing my son’s favourite music every now and then kept him joyous and entertained.
#8 Confront your fears and let them loose
It’s not easy to get out on the road with a toddler. Kids cry, they soil their diaper just when you moved out of the rest area, they are unpredictable, they are what seems unreasonable to you, but aren’t we all prepared for that! It’s okay to feel slightly intimidated the first time you head out, but when you are left with are a lifetime of memories it seems worth it.
Our experience was on the good side of the scale. I don’t know if we got lucky or all the planning helped. But what I do know is that we have made wonderful memories, bonded as a family in a unique way and saved some money. It’s an absolute amazing feeling to watch your toddler have a bunch of new experiences.
I think I have encouraged you enough to pack your bags and head out, so get planning mamma?