While road trips bring their fair share of unexpecteds, adding a toddler into the mix makes things a lot more interesting. Toddlers are not as fussy as babies but not as “stable” as older kids and taking a long-distance car ride with them can sometimes be a test of your resolve. But travelling with kids need not necessarily be a daunting experience if you take the necessary preparations for your family road trip.

In this guide, we’ll take on 5 practical tips and things to consider for your next long car ride with the little one.

Timing is Important

Unlike younger babies, a toddler’s energy levels throughout the day can somewhat resemble some sort of structure. If you leave during the time when the kid’s poised to take a nap, you’ll have a good chance of doing a large part of your driving while they’re asleep.

This timing will be very different for each family. Parents can factor in feeding times and active play with the schedule because it’s after these activities that toddlers feel most inclined to take a nap.

But as much as possible, don’t try and go out too late at night because you might be feeling tired yourself and be forced to take an unplanned rest stop.

Ensure the Condition of the Vehicle

For road trips, you’ll be spending most of the time in the car, so it makes perfect sense to ensure that it’s in its top shape. What we’re preparing for here are both the little things that can make a trip less pleasant and major breakdowns that can leave you stranded.

If it’s been a significant while since your last, take your vehicle to a certified mechanic for a routine inspection. Aside from the running condition of the vehicle, you should have them check on the status A/C. One can only imagine the fuss of a toddler who’s feeling too cold or too warm.

If you think your vehicle won’t be able to take the length of your trip, you can always opt to go for car hire services. When going for a rental vehicle, always go for the most reputable ones that have a well-maintained fleet—make sure they offer child seats, as well.

Invest in Roadside Assistance

These are some of the things that you need to get before you need them. While they usually seem like an unnecessary expense, especially when you’re usually driving within the city. But when you’re going to traverse long stretches without the assurance of roadside mechanics, it’s best to double-check if your car insurance has this aspect covered. If not, this could be your most worthwhile investment.

Not all provisions will be the same. Make sure that the one you have or getting includes service station towing, tire replacements, battery boosts and unlocks. But if you accidentally lock your keys and your child in the car, call for emergency services first. If it’s getting too hot, don’t think twice about breaking a window.

Again, if you’re taking a rental car, check your provider’s policy for included roadside assistance services.

Keep their Toys (and Snacks) Close

Nobody expects you to stop on the side of the road each time your toddler asks for their favourite toy or snack. As a parent, your priority is to keep your child happy, but as a driver, your priority is keeping your hand on the wheel and your eyes on the road.

Back seat organisers can be a big help, stock it with things that can keep the little one busy and happy, so you won’t have to deal with the constant “are we there yet” playing over and over. If you have older kids in the back, they can be a big help with reaching stuff for the little one. Just make sure that you don’t commit the cardinal mistake of putting the toys in the boot.

The Power of Screen Time

Toys, books and snacks can only do so much before they lose their lustre. If you have a portable DVD player or other mobile entertainment devices, you should consider stocking them up with your toddler’s favourite clips. Don’t fully rely on online content, because you never know when you might be driving across dead spots.

If you have satellite radio, try and add some stations for kids. You can turn this into a fun sing-along activity that can keep you entertained as well.

We’re no longer giving special mention to diaper and milk duties because all parents will have that on lock. Extra tip: plan ahead for rest stops where you can dispose of used nappies, stretch your legs, or grab a bite with the family.

Affordable Car Hire in Australia

If you’re looking for a reliable vehicle to take you across Australia on your holiday, turn to Alpha Car Hire. We have offices conveniently located close to major airports, including Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sunshine Coast and Moorooka.

Our well-maintained fleet of car rentals, including compact cars, family cars, and SUVs all come with 24-hour roadside assistance and optional extras, such as child seats. Additionally, we offer free airport transfers to make your holiday extra special. Get in touch with us today at 1300 227 473.