After the COVID travel hiatus, our family was able to take a few local weekends away. It was nice to visit some familiar places in New England and make memories with our son there. It was a little chaotic packing and re-packing every few weeks, but it was so nice to stay somewhere else and introduce our son to the fun of travel!
Here are a few tips for road tripping with a toddler that I found to help make the travel planning, prep and execution more enjoyable for us all. In all, we took five weekends (or longer) away, all in new England and all at least two nights away. We had two weddings to attend and then took a few weekends to stay with family/friends.
When we weren’t staying with family, we opted for airbnbs over hotel rooms to give us more flexibility. Not only is there the comfort of a full kitchen, but it also gives you more space. It was great not having to worry about waking up our son after he went to bed if we only had the one hotel room. Another perk is that many airbnbs have baby or kid gear you might need. Not having to transport toys or a pack n’ play was such a relief when you have to pack so many other items!
Our drives were relatively short, all under four hours, which were manageable. I keep a kid bin by our son’s car seat (diapers, wipes, books, toys), but I made sure to pack extra favorites from home to hand over when the whining started. We timed our drives so if our son fell asleep it wouldn’t throw all our plans out the window. We made sure to stop and stretch our legs every hour and a half or so. Our son was 18 months old during these trips so I didn’t play any car games or give him electronics to help pass the time, I just passed him a new toy or book to keep his interest. That worked out for us, but I did have the PBS Kids app on our phones ready to go if needed.
A disposable diaper pail was amazing to have on hand for the dirty diapers. I also kept disposable placemats, crayons and a notepad in our diaper bag to help keep him calm in long waits for our meals or in line. The app Playground Buddy was great to find a place to let our son burn energy on the drive or find someplace for a picnic.
Go with the flow
As with anything, you will never be fully prepared for everything. You’ll forget something, one piece of every trip will be a disaster. I was worried about going off our son’s routine or how he’d adjust to the new rooms to sleep in, but honestly those weren’t the biggest issues we dealt with on these trips. Setting low expectations and being flexible helped us enjoy the time away.