Creative Child

10 Tips for a Smooth Road Trip with Kids

by Deborah Song

Are you ready to travel with a baby and small children? Road trips can be one of the easiest modes of travel, especially when you need to transport your whole family. You can leave when you want to (no departure delays), you can stop when you need to and you can pretty much eat whatever you want en route. But the key to a good road trip is planning ahead.

So if you're thinking of squeezing in a few road trips this year, here are 10 tips to get you ready.

1. Make Sure You're Well Rested.

Just because you feel fine right before leaving, doesn't mean you'll stay alert an hour into the drive. Driving for a long stretch with a baby in tow can be mentally draining. Make sure you've had enough sleep before hitting the road.

2. Leave At the Right Time.

Does your baby sleep well in the car? Leave an hour or two before naptime. Does your toddler hate car rides? Leave soon after he's awoken from a nap or a good night's sleep. Or consider starting your road trip around your child's bedtime. Don't forget to factor in heavy traffic times.

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3. Break Up Your Trip.

Going on a road trip doesn't mean you have to be stuck in the car for five straight hours. A five-hour road trip broken up into two two-and-a-half-hour segments with a fun lunch or activity in between creates a much different experience.

Mapping out several stops and kid-friendly restaurants in advance makes the sudden onset of a tantrum less stressful and can even make travel more efficient. If your child is sleeping or tolerating the drive well, you can keep going until the next stop. A large blanket that your baby can crawl and roll around in will help maximize break time.

4. Make the Car Seat Safe and Comfortable.

Research shows that 7 out of 10 car seats are not properly installed. Review your instruction manual carefully before leaving. DMV also has some helpful tips (

For added comfort, consider inserting a car seat head and body support pillow for those younger babies who look like they're swimming in their car seats.

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