A few months back, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, my husband and I decided that we had not taken a proper holiday in the last 2.5 years and it was high time we took one. From trying to conceive to the pregnancy and the baby; time just flew by. We have taken a couple of short weekend breaks or combined a day or two on my husband’s official trips with our little one, but now we decided to do a road trip with her. When it comes to driving, it meant our favorite destination; Rajasthan. So, we planned the itinerary and we decided to do a seven-day trip.
When we started telling friends and family about this trip, we got strange reactions from everyone. Most of the people with children said we were being adventurous and it was not a good idea with an 18-month-old. We discussed again, but we thought that the worst-case scenario would be reaching our destinations later than planned. We decided to go ahead with it.
Now we are back from a fabulous trip and I have no regrets. My daughter was an angel and I can confidently say she enjoyed as much as we did. From my experience I can say, if you keep some basic things in mind, you also can enjoy a road trip. Let us talk about a few:
One of the most helpful things that made our trip successful was her car seat. Since she was a month old, she has always been travelling in a car seat. If we have travelled by flight to some place, she has been in our lap for those days, but apart from that this is a non-negotiable rule. When the child is comfortable in the car seat, travelling becomes easier. She does not expect anyone to sit with her as long as she can see us both.
Car seats make life simple. There is no baby jumping in the car distracting the driver or fidgeting with things. Also, children tend to fall asleep while driving, and being in a car seat makes it easy for them and they are comfortable. And most important, is the safety of the child. There should be no compromise on this aspect and a child is the safest in the car seat.
Plan Around their Routine
The first day was the longest drive we did and thus, we left at 6 am in the morning. My daughter usually does not get up before 8:30-9 am. She got up for a bit when we put her in the car seat, but she dosed off and got up around 10. This way we managed to cover a major part while she was sleeping. Other days were planned in a way that we mostly travelled between her meal times.
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Do Not Be Rigid about Rules
Rules are important and you must stick to them at home. You have to let go of the rules when on a holiday and especially when you are not in their comfort zone. You have to ensure the baby is comfortable and also keep your comfort level in mind. While we were on the road, she would usually dose off and thus, forcing her to take a nap in the afternoon or eating her fruit at 11:30 had to be ignored. We all did things as and when we could and at our pace. It is a holiday at the end of the day, and everyone should enjoy.
Plan the Meals
Meals do become a challenge when on a road trip. I packed sufficient snacks for her and would take bananas for her from the hotel we were at. Do not force the child to eat. If the child is sleeping at a time you think they should eat, let them sleep. When they get up they will be fresh and would eat well. A child will not stay hungry, so do not worry. Pack enough dry snacks and carry water and other drinks in sippers. The baby bag must be well stocked with napkins and eatables.
People often make fun of me when I make lists before I go a trip. Trust me this is the easiest and the most efficient way to ensure everything is packed. Make your lists of clothes and things to carry and pack well in time. Do not leave things for the last minute. Stock up the car a night before you have to leave so that there is no last-minute confusion. A bag for the baby with toys, diaper changes, a change of clothes and snacks must be packed separately and this should be put in an easily accessible place and not in the boot of the car.
Do not make an adventure out of the trip. Know your route and directions. Taking risks and unnecessarily extending the driving time will add problems and make the child restless. Ensure all your hotel bookings are done so that you know exactly where to go. Also, while booking look for kid friendly places to stay and restaurants to eat at. Do your research about things to do and see and ensure you do not club too much on a day. Your itinerary at your destinations have to be made keeping in mind the child.
Parents encourage kids to watch movies etc. in a car but I am against it. Depending on what you allow your child to do and the interest of the child, have some entertainment handy. Singing nursey rhymes and songs or playing games with them are a good way to keep them entertained when they are not sleeping.
A child will act a bit strange as they are in new places daily and of course, they do not have a routine. Be patient with them and give them time to adjust. They will eat when they are hungry and sleep when they are tired. Forcing them will make matters worse. Do not wake them when they sleeping as this will make them cranky. Flexibility will make life easier for everyone.
Proper planning and flexibility is a key to a successful road trip. You need to prepare your child so that they know what is expected of them.