When we were living in the US, we were blessed with several opportunities to go on road trips. It can sound pretty daunting to travel by car with a baby or a toddler but it is really not that scary. In fact, it can be quite enjoyable, as long as your child is good with sitting in the car for long hours.
Going on a road trip with a baby or toddler, there are some must-haves:
1. A good car seat
As much as we can help it, Phoebie is always in her car seat when we are on the road. Even if she is crying, she stays in her car seat while we comfort her. This is for her safety. We know that even if we declare we are the most careful drivers on the road, we never know what can happen.
2. A good baby carrier
We visited the Grand Canyon when Phoebie was about 10months old and the best thing we brought along was the baby carrier. Not every place we travel to is stroller-friendly and it can be a hassle to constantly open and close the stroller. So the best way to secure the baby is a good carrier.
Of course, we make sure the carrier provides good support, because we don’t want to injure ourselves in the midst of enjoying a holiday.
3. A good lightweight stroller
A good lightweight stroller gives a toddler a comfortable place to sit or sleep in during the holiday, and we don’t have to be carrying her all the time. My favourite is the Pliko Mini from Peg Perego. It’s light, it’s fully reclinable, and it folds easy. Most importantly, it’s sturdy like a Pliko P3 (which I have too), so I can hang my bags on the handle and the stroller doesn’t topple easily.
4. Loads of food and water
Whenever we travelled on the road, I would pack tons of crackers, bread, fruit snacks and whatever I knew Phoebie liked to eat. This is in case Phoebie gets hungry while we drive for 2 hours or more before we make a stop. The snacks also come in handy when we ourselves get hungry. ;P
5. Entertainment for the child
That’s Phoebie getting busy with stickers and crayons while having to stay in her car seat for longer than usual. When Phoebie was a baby, the only thing she needed was a portable DVD player which came with a car charger. Now that she is older, I also pack story books, stickers, crayons, pieces of blank paper and a good clipboard file that I can store every thing in. The clipboard doubles up as a table for Phoebie as well.
Other than the things mentioned above, there are also the usual baby essentials like bottles, formula, diapers, medication and some of Phoebie’s favourite toys.
We have gone on road trips that require more than 4 hours of driving, but we always make it a point to stop at a petrol kiosk or a rest station every 2 or 3 hours. This allows whoever is designated to drive to get a short break, and for the baby to get out of the car seat for some fresh air. It is also during these breaks that we change diapers or take our meals before we carry on to drive to our destination.
We also got rather innovative if Phoebie made a mess when we were on road trips.
When we get to the hotel, we almost always ask for a baby play pen. This was especially when Phoebie was younger.
The other thing that we always ask for, is a king-sized bed. Most young children don’t feel secure sleeping in an unfamiliar place and sleep best with parents. So a king-sized bed will allow us sufficient and comfortable space for all of us to sleep together.
Enjoying a holiday with a young child is not impossible.
I must say that we made sure we had aisle seats, in case Phoebie wasn’t comfortable and one of us needed to bring her out. But it turned out that she didn’t need that. 😀
If you are planning to travel with your young child by road this school holiday, make sure your child is comfortable with being strapped in to a car seat for a long travelling time. And make sure whoever is driving is able to tolerate screaming and crying that may take more than 20 minutes to stop.
Perhaps a good way to “test” or train your child is to drive from Pasir Ris to Tuas and back to Pasir Ris again. ;P