Summer is practically here and many of us are looking forward for a beautiful relaxed holiday away from our shores. Most probably running after our little ones and seeing that they are still alive and kicking instead of appreciating completely the scenery in front of us. But hey, at least we don’t have to cook and dust and wash and clean!
Some of us may have already booked and prepared our holiday plans and many opt to rent a car to make the most out of the holiday, but with a little one in tow, things can get messy. Here is my two-cent worth on what to do and not when you are driving abroad with your little ones.
1) Carry entertainment
Car trips can be long and boring for an adult, let alone for a one year old. So be prepared with things that can be done easily and safely in the car. Colours, books, small toys, music, videos. Do NOT take out everything the second you get in the car. As we all know, children get bored easily and quickly so take it easy and have plenty!
2) Know about car sickness
Yes, it is important a child is entertained in the car but also be careful and aware of anything that might make your child car sick (preferably you should test this before!). Tablets and mobile phones can be a life saver but if your child is prone to car sickness, avoid it like the plague – unless you want to end up in the middle of the Sicilian countryside cleaning the car, yourself and your child (been there, done that, got the stained T-shirt). If you know your child gets car sick, try to have them sitting next to a window and encourage them to look forward (not saying that this is easy of course).
3) Carry light snacks but avoid milk and dairies
Little tummies get hungry quickly so it’s ideal to have light snacks for the trip like fruit, veggie sticks, crackers or healthy pre-packed snacks (which are less messy and easier to carry). However, try to avoid milk and cheese during the trip and also before (remember the stranded in the middle of nowhere incident?). Having a bottle of water handy is also a very good idea.
4) Always carry an extra change of clothes
For your child, and one for yourself, might not be a bad idea! You might take all the precautions, but accidents do (and probably will) happen!
5) Stock on the wipes
I’m not one to obsess about cleaning my son’s hands every 2 seconds but travelling means not having access to a sink or a bath for quite a while so wipes can solve a lot of messes.
6) Have everything handy in the car
It is useless having a bag full of toys at the back of the car while driving on a highway.
7) Plan ahead
Sounds obvious but the little things might be easily forgotten. Plan your routes, places you’re staying in, timings, things to carry, things to do. Planning before will make it a tiny bit easier to handle unplanned incidents and disasters and will also let you enjoy yourself even more. Also try to plan routes that are shorter and avoid very long drives at one stretch. It would be ideal to split your trip and stop half way to your destination. Furthermore, try to check for parking before arriving. Some cities might have a parking problem (think Sliema in summer) or you might have to pay for parking. Knowing that there is and where is the parking area can be a life saver!
8) Nap time
If possible try to drive during baby’s nap time. This would mean a quiet trip and a happy rested baby once you arrive at your destination. If your baby doesn’t sleep during car trips, well this won’t work sorry!
9) The car-seat dilemma
To take your car seat with you or to rent one. If you decide to rent a car seat try to check beforehand what kind of car seat you are going to have. Some care rental companies don’t really have comfortable, ideal car seats. If you are going to drive for a very long time I would suggest to take your own car seat with you (most airlines include this as part of the infant’s luggage). Your child would be more comfortable and would be used to it.
10) Make sure you book a big enough car.
This is important especially if you’re travelling with more than one child. Remember that a car seat and a booster seat take more space than a child sitting down on the seat. Also remember that you have to carry luggage, pushchairs and a lot of extra things so unless you want to end up crammed up and unable to walk properly for half an hour after your drive, think about space!
And most importantly enjoy yourself and the company of your little ones. Make memories and enjoy every little moment, and the messes as well 😊
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About the author:
Geraldine is a 29 year old (loud) mummy, wife, interpreter, LSA, performer, traveller, dreamer, writer – Not necessarily always in that order!