Road trips with children under the age of three are an experience in parenting. This is particularly true around the holidays, when seasonal stress may add an unwelcome layer to the festivities. With a little forethought, you can create an optimal—and dare we say, jolly—environment for your small person, making the experience more enjoyable for you. Whether you’re travelling a few hours to Grandma’s home or on a cross-country trip that will take you through a few states, here are some ideas to help you avoid holiday road trip problems and make a more enjoyable journey by vehicle with your child.
Check that your child’s car seat is up to date.
Don’t overlook the fundamentals. You want to ensure that your child’s car seat is properly fitted. Begin with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s suggestions. To set your mind at rest, you might also seek the assistance of a qualified child passenger safety (CPS) technician in your region before to the journey. Consider bringing your own kid seat if you’re hiring a vehicle (search for car rental offers here), both to save the extra $10–$15 per day penalty and to know what you’re getting in terms of condition, cleanliness, possible recalls, and general safety.
Before the major drive, do a couple “test drives.”
Plan several small journeys in the months leading up to the big road trip, particularly if it will last more than a few hours. This not only helps accustom your child to being in the vehicle for extended periods of time, but it also helps you learn and find some helpful ideas and methods for the longer ride.
Prepare your vehicle
Check that your automobile is ready for the trip—the oil has been changed lately, the brakes are in excellent working order, any emergency lights that have been on have been handled, and so on. You should also supply your vehicle with supplies that will be useful in an emergency, such as a spare tire, flares, a tire jack, a first aid kit, a warm blanket, and so on. Don’t forget to bring additional vehicle chargers for your phones.
Send your Christmas presents via mail.
Make the most of your car’s space. If at all feasible, ship your presents to their ultimate destination or store them in a safe cargo box on top of your vehicle.
Take your time.
If your GPS indicates it will take X hours to go from A to B, add at least one-third of that time to your total. Why? Stops for diaper changes, feedings, restroom breaks, and the unexpected must be factored in. Furthermore, most car seat manufacturers do not advocate leaving newborns and toddlers in the car seat for more than 2 to 3 hours.
Bring a comfortable outdoor blanket.
Use pauses to let you and your child to play and burn off some pent-up energy. Keep a large blanket in your trunk, and weather allowing, you may make a DIY play area/mealtime area on the lawns at rest sites.
Prepare for diaper changes in the vehicle.
Do you want to avoid changing diapers at a rest stop restroom? Depending on your vehicle and the weather, the backseat or trunk space might function as your mobile changing station. Make sure you have the following items packed and ready to go before the trip: diapers, wipes, a portable changing mat, hand sanitizer (for you), and small baggies to dispose of soiled diapers and wipes if there isn’t a trash can nearby.