Driving for hours is strenuous without inside-the-car distractions—the drivers around you are trouble enough. Add in a needy toddler or two, and it’s amazing that many parents do manage even without a spouse to help. When you have precious kiddy cargo, though, you want to take every precaution. Consider these three tips for road-tripping with a toddler in tow to reduce your risks.
Don’t Let Them Distract You
A mom’s first response when their child cries or yells is to address the problem. The big error here comes when moms strain to help their child and make a driving blunder. While it may sound like your kid’s concerns are most urgent, your top priority—for their safety and yours—is to attend to the road. Your driving vigilance in traffic jams, highway driving, and other confusing points is key here.
That said, don’t get (grid)locked onto the road as they wail. When you can, stop off somewhere, so you can take care of them without the danger of a collision.
Bring Backups for the Backups
Another tip for road-tripping with a toddler is bringing ample clothes, snacks, and toys to tide them over. The goal here is to stop a crying episode from ramping up unnecessarily, so they stay happy and you stay relaxed. Extra clothes give you a way to make them comfortable when they have some kind of accident. A stash of food buys you time until their next meal. Lastly, surprising them with their favorite toys throughout the trip limits their boredom.
While you don’t want to reward whiny behavior, there are times when momentarily giving them a preferred item is okay so that you can drive safely.
Drive During a Nap/Sleep Time
On a road trip, the best kind of toddler is a slumbering one. That’s why strategically leaving at times when they’re typically tired is wise. You have some options here. Early morning, midday, and late evening are all candidates, though some are easier for you than others. You’re likely widest awake midday, but your child may be unpredictable when it comes to napping. Also, late-night driving is brutal and unsafe if you doze off behind the wheel.
That’s why early-morning road-tripping is ideal. Get up several hours before their wake time, carry them to the car, and begin your journey. These first few hours are invaluable, so you can ease into your drive without excess stress.