While planning a vacation is stressful as is it, planning a road trip with toddlers can be even more arduous. Last year this time, my husband and I took up the challenge of covering more than 1100 kms in 10 days, from Delhi to the treacherous Sangla Valley, located in the heart of the Himalayas. Here’s our two cents of everything you need to know about planning a road trip with your toddler this summer vacation.
Since you will be spending a lot of your time in the car, it only makes sense for it to be in the best condition. You don’t want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere, especially with kids.
Inclusion is a great way of getting kids excited about anything. So talk to them, make them aware of your travel plans and what they entail. Inform them about the good and the not-so-exciting parts as well. Children love the idea of exploring new things and this will peak their interest.
Like any other trip, planning each day to the last detail will help you stick to a schedule. From booking hotels to deciding pit stops - everything should be worked out well in advance. This helps save time and having a plan means you always know what you are doing. Of course, emergency pit stops and photos ops are always welcome.
Car seats are great investments as they keep the children safe and comfortable during long drives. However, if you don’t have one, carry small pillows and light blankets to help the munchkins sleep during the journey. Make sure they are wearing comfortable clothes that are easy to change while on-the-go. Well-rested and fed toddlers are more receptive in any situation.
A first aid kit, diapers (if required) and a change, torch and a small bucket for those sudden bouts of motion sickness. Sucking on candy or toffees helps keep motion sickness at bay. So carry plenty.
Small snack packs come in handy when you know you won’t find many shops on the way. Pack fruits that can be eaten easily such as bananas, apples, grapes etc. Spill-proof cups and finger foods are winners as they minimise the mess.
This will help you the most as you will avoid city traffic and cover a lot of ground. Plus leaving at the crack of dawn means your toddlers will sleep most of the way.
With close to 568 km sitting between us and Sangla Valley, we decided to break the journey by not traveling more than eight hours a day. Hill drives can be very uncomfortable for the toddlers and motion sickness can really put a big dent in the journey. So we decided to get acclimatized by spending two nights at selected destinations before we headed further up the mountains.
Create a bag of goodies that will keep them busy and entertained. Carry your toddler's favourite books, sticker or activity books, colouring sheets and colours, small toys, writing or drawing boards etc. Things that they usually like spending time with so you can sit and enjoy that much needed cup of coffee as you admire the landscape.
With all this said and done, hiccups are likely. Treat them like an opportunity to take a break and enjoy a hot cup of chai as you kids run around and release that energy before you get back on the road.