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Last month, my husband deployed for the first time in our marriage. The idea of staying in Texas alone with my toddler was not one I really could wrap my head around. I decided to pack my car up and drive back home to live with my family during the deployment. Unfortunately, my family lives in Brooklyn and that’s a more than a 27-hour straight drive from Fort Hood where we lived. 3 days later.. I accomplished traveling alone on a road trip with a toddler. Here’s everything you need to know before trying this out for yourself.
5 Tips On Traveling Alone On A Road Trip With A Toddler
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Plan Ahead For The Road Trip With A Toddler!
Everyone’s driving tolerance is different. My mom loves to joke that I am a truck driver because our family is always on some new road trip. I used to drive from Buffalo to NYC on a regular as soon as I got my license. That was back in my college days. I drove from Buffalo to Texas last year when we got new orders to move. I’m sure you get the gist. Driving isn’t an issue for me as much as I’d rather be driven by my hubby LOL.
Toddlers especially unused to long drives are a whole different ballpark. Estimate your trip based on the number of hours you’re familiar with driving in a day + the number of hours you can see your toddler being able to sit in their car seat with no issues. I did approx. 10 hour days on the road including stops for my little one to get out. Dominic is probably one of the easiest toddlers I know. So, he was able to tough it for long periods of time.
Pack A Small Vacation Bag For Your Roadtrip With A Toddler
We stopped twice during this road trip. Struggling to take in big suitcases with Dominic on one hip wasn’t even an option. Packing a small vacation bag made our hotel stops so much easier. I took a regular duffle bag from my husband and used it for Dom and me.
I would just throw the duffle bag on Dom’s stroller with his diaper bag and check-in to our hotels with no issue. One day, I’ll do a post on what exactly should be in this vacation bag for road trips. For now, just think about the must-haves you’ll need at a moment’s notice for a few days.
RELATED READING: Flying With A Baby
Make Kid-Friendly Stops
Your road trip with a toddler will require stopping places that cater to all of their needs. Be prepared to have to break away from your plan a bit depending on your toddler’s mood. It’s a plan but leave a bit of wiggle room for accidents or emergencies. As you know with a toddler, anything can happen.
I chose to stop at road stops ( during daylight only of course!) that’d let him run around. Or, the McDonalds that would have a play area to let Dom get all of his crazy pent up energy out. Everything you know about your toddler’s habits and schedule should be kept in mind. Even if you have to schedule a kid’s trip just to make their day memorable enough to sit in the car seat for the rest of your day’s trip.
Stock Up on Snacks
Snacks are a god send for you. If you didn’t know, let me tell you. A road trip with a toddler won’t be easy without some worthy munchies. My husband and I rarely give my son junk food. A bag of chips here and there and a sweet popsicle on occasions are about all the junk food he is allowed to have.
I threw ALL of that out of the window for this road trip. I was driving alone by myself with a toddler and had no assistance if he started to get cranky or irritated. Junk food was such a treat for him that it’d keep him quiet long enough for me to make real progress on our road trip. Traveling on the road alone with a child is dangerous enough. The less time you spend alone on the road, the better.
Before our road trip, I stocked up on snacks at Walmart that I know Dom would love. Experience teaches you that gas station prices will rob you blind. These snacks would keep Dom occupied while I was trying to focus on the road being in cities I’ve never been to before.
Don’t Overextend Yourself
Driving alone on a road trip is far from easy. But, it’s even harder when you know you’re 100% alone taking care of your child on the road. Be sure to make smart decisions and don’t overextend yourself.
I can’t count the number of times I just wanted to keep driving even though I was getting tired. Our last stop, I absolutely hated where we were. Not only the area but the fact that I was only like four hours from home. If I was by myself, I probably would have tried to do it. But on a road trip with a toddler, play it safe.
You know the saying better safe than sorry. Pull over and get a hotel room if you’re even the slightest bit tired or sick of looking at the road.
The key is to traveling alone on a road trip with a toddler is to play it safe and be responsible.
Until next time…..