Taking trips around the country with a caravan is one of the best vacations imaginable, but many people are hesitant on taking such trips after they have a child, fearing that it might not be able to withstand the long hours on the road and being away from home for so long.
However, the truth is that many couples take their children on caravan tours and have a great time – although additional preparation and some compromises are required, toddlers can enjoy the trip as much, if not more, than you do!
So, for your next unforgettable caravan trip with your toddler, here are thirty small but useful tips on how to make the journey a bit easier:
Plan for Plenty of Breaks. Kids get tired much quicker than adults, so if you don’t want your tired and cranky toddler to give you a headache, plan your trip in a way that takes into account plenty of breaks.
Think of Games and Entertainment. Kids get bored easily, therefore you must pack plenty of things like coloring books, games and toys to keep them occupied and entertained. Also, don’t forget to play with them – even a simple peekaboo game can help keep him calm.
Don’t Forget the Medicine. Because of the stressful conditions that come with traveling, there’s an increased chance that your child will become sick at some point on the trip. And if you don’t want to cancel the entire holiday because of it, you should better be prepared to tackle the symptoms early.
Try to Keep a Regular Schedule. If you have a toddler, you know how important it is to keep a regular daily schedule of eating, sleeping and playing. Try to not go off too far from your regular schedule on trips, or, alternatively, develop a new routine, because kids get tired easily and keeping them used to a certain timetable prevents them from getting irritated.
Keep It Dark during Night Time. The night hours of rest are precious, so you don’t want to waste them trying to get your toddler to go to sleep. It will be of great help if you can keep your caravan dark during night time with shades – a dark environment promotes deeper sleep and will contribute to you getting some rest as well.
Bring a Potty. You never know when a potty emergency might arise, so having a portable potty for your trips is essential – it saves time and can prevent some unpleasant disasters.
Be Prepared to Cook On the Road. Your kids are going through enough stress on the road as it is, and keeping them on a constant diet of service food simply aggravates them more. Having a consistent diet might prevent some tummy aches, which means your toddler will be in a better mood, which is great for everyone.
Remind Them about Safety. If he’s big enough, you can’t keep track of your toddler 100 percent of the time, so you should regularly go through the main rules of travel safety.
Make a Packing List. It comes as no surprise that toddles tend to need a lot of stuff on trips – starting with food, diapers, medicine, and finishing with their favorite toys, books and games. Make a list to make sure you don’t forget any essentials.
Choose Your Camping Site Spots Wisely. Not all camping sites are great to spend time on with a small child – some of which are difficult to reach, and thus limit your mobility if you would need to reach the road quickly. Also, they might not be safe, or not be equipped with the essentials you might need.
Keep Them Engaged During Rainy Days. Rainy days are the worst when you’re traveling, but that’s especially true when you’re with children. They can quickly get agitated if they get bored, so think of entertainment options
Utilize Driving During Sleep Time. The one thing that’s important for little children is their sleep. If they don’t get enough, your entire trip can turn into a nightmare. So try to keep your driving in check with their sleeping schedule – you’ll have some quiet time on the road.
Keep Them Entertained While Driving. If you can bring a DVD player or a laptop to your trip, you’ll have a much easier time keeping the toddler from getting bored. When you really need that break from the action, playing a movie can be the perfect solution.
Think Ahead About Sleeping Arrangements. Toddlers often need attention during night time, so it’s a good idea to arrange their sleeping area so that you can easily reach it during the night without waking up your spouse or other children.
Fun Road Games Are a Lifesaver. Having some fun entertainment options like DVD players inside your caravan are great, but sometimes that’s not an option. Luckily, you can simply play fun road games, like the always popular I Spy, spelling games or Who Am I. The best part is, they can be just as entertaining to adults as it is to kids.
Try to Make Home Cooked Meals. As you go on your trip, there’s enough changes in environment for the toddler as it is, so making him feel more at home with some of your home-cooked familiar dishes is a great idea. When he becomes a bit homesick, having a meal he loves might help make him feel closer to home.
Be Organized. Kids are messy enough as it is, but when you have to live in a smaller space on a caravan, it shows even more. Therefore you have to compensate by trying to be extra organized on your part – try and put everything in place as soon as you’re doing using it, and try to instil good tidiness habits in your children as well.
Don’t Forget Warm Clothes and Blankets. Children are much more prone to getting cold than adults, so even if it’s the middle of summer, you’re still better off preparing for a few colder nights with plenty of warm clothes and blankets. It’s better to not need them than to need them and not have them.
Bring Something to Cool Down. Just as it can get cold, it can get unbearably hot while on the road as well. Having a fan, some stored ice or simply something handy to fan yourself can really be a big help.
Drive in Smaller Chunks. Everyone gets tired on long drives, but this is especially true when talking about children. Therefore if you don’t want to completely wear them out, try to plan your trip in a way that makes time for frequent stop breaks and split up your drive into smaller chunks.
Plan Your Meals. Having a specific meal time every day helps to keep a more consistent daily schedule, which means that the road trip will have less negative effects on the toddlers’ mood and even health. If he eats and naps at roughly the same time, he is more likely to feel better and thus, enjoy the trip more.
Be Liberal with Your Schedule. Of course, while maintaining a schedule is great, you have to account for the fact that sometimes toddlers are unpredictable. You might need to rest for longer than you planned – sometimes even stay for a day or two longer at a spot. Not forcing a trip schedule will make it easier to handle for your toddler, but it will also make it less stressful for you as well.
Establish Rules. Although you can’t expect your child to be perfect and act as an adult, establishing some ground rules of travel might be a good idea. If he knows what he can or can’t do during driving time, at the stops, or at camp sites, you will have an easier time taking care of him.
Be Smart About Luggage. You can’t bring everything you could possibly need on a trip because of space restrictions, so you have to think long and hard about what you really need to bring. Make lists for each area (kitchen, sleeping, entertainment etc.) and fill them over a course of a week or two, that way you should be able to think of most of the important stuff and not leave anything essential.
Always Have Snacks Handy. As you probably know all too well, kids get cranky very fast when they’re hungry. And if you’re not planning to eat soon, it can become an issue, therefore always have little snacks like healthy energy bars or fruit handy.
Try to Limit Sweets. Having to sit in a car for hours with a child that’s jacked up on sugar can be a hellish experience, so, on your trips, try to limit your kids’ sugar intake as much as possible. Substitutes, while not as exciting, are a much better choice – dried or fresh fruit and berries always work, and kids seem to like them.
Engage them In the Holiday. One thing you don’t want to do is start thinking of your toddler as “additional luggage” during your trip. Just because he might not be able to appreciate everything you’re seeing or doing doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to engage them in all of your activities. Making him feel like he’s participating in something often might be enough to get him more excited as well.
Tell Your Toddler Stories. Children love stories – it’s something that can get their imaginations running wild, fascinate them and, at the same time, help them develop their creativity and perception of the world. This is very useful on the road, where it can get quite dull while traveling long distances.
Encourage Interaction. Even if your toddler is quietly sitting in the back, don’t forget about him – you should keep him engaged and talk to him regularly. Even if it’s simply making funny faces at him, any kind of interaction will prolong the time before he starts to get agitated because of long driving.
Take Plenty of Pictures. Your trip with your toddler can be one of the most memorable holidays you ever have, so you want to preserve that memory forever. Make sure you take plenty of pictures, so that you can what a great time you had when your child gets bigger.Author Bio: This article is written and submitted by Craig, who works with Explorex Caravans, a caravan manufacturing company based in Western Australia.