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Road trip essentials with a toddler in tow...
Since I passed my driving test in May, I have become so confident as a driver. It's honestly crazy because I really had to force myself into taking lessons back in January and I was such an anxious driver! Nothing phases me now (okay, maybe parking a little) and I've been driving alllll over with my little sidekick. Road trips are our favourite things, I love driving to new places and Reuben is obsessed with going anywhere in the car so it's safe to say I'm spending a lot on petrol these days. Today I'm talking about a few of our must-haves when going anywhere long-distance, some of these are essentials for anyone and the rest are for those with little ones who have a bit more to think about.
The Important Stuff
Before going anywhere far, you should make sure your car is taken care of before you set off. Make sure you've got some solid car insurance so that you're covered if (god forbid) you happened to break down. The worst thing thing that could happen to you with a hangry or tired toddler in tow is breaking down in the middle of nowhere and not having any cover. When I first got my car I never even thought about what I'd do if my car broke down - how stupid am I? So it's one of those things that can be easily forgotten about when it's so important to consider.
I think most people have some form of a sat nav, and so many have recommended to me to just use my phone but personally I find a proper sat nav much better. It sits on the bottom my windscreen just behind my wheel and I can either have it giving me directions somewhere or I can just have it on the normal map which shows me what roads are called, what the speed limits are on the road I'm on, etc. As a new driver this is such an essential to me as I'm not always sure on road speeds especially in new areas, and I have a black box so I have to make sure I'm not speeding wherever I go! I've tried using my phone on maps and it really just isn't as good or as easy to follow as my sat nav so I would definitely recommend one if you're on the fence.
I do however also take my phone absolutely everywhere, especially when going on a road trip so I will always make sure that's fully charged too. Sometimes if your sat nav doesn't like an area or it isn't on the map then having your phone on google maps can be really handy to have nearby. I have rarely had to use it for this but the other reason it comes in as an essential for me on a road trip is because you can use it for directions once you actually get to your destination. I am the worst person for directions (I literally always get lost) so I like that I can mark where I've left my car on a map on my phone and also use it for directions for wherever I'm aiming to go. I mean, those are the main reasons I make sure it's fully charged but does anyone actually go anywhere without their phone anyway?!
The Toddler Essentials
As obsessed as Ru is with cars and road trips, he's still only one and gets very fed up, very easily. I literally cannot go anywhere without making sure I've got everything I need to keep him entertained. I actually keep a stash of nappies, wipes and nappy bags in my boot so even though I have all that in my change bag, if I ever happen to run out or misplace anything (yes this has happened many times) then I've got plenty of spares in the boot. We go on so many road trips these days that having all of this in the car at all times is a genuine life saver, let me tell you! I also don't go anywhere far away without the pram because not only is it essential for a tired toddler, but the majority of the time I can't let him walk until we've reached a safe area.
Entertainment wise, I think the best thing I usually have is my iPad. I have a phone charger in my car at all times and this works for my iPad too so it's something I can easily keep charged up should the battery die. I usually just download a load of peppa pig episodes or a couple of films and that keeps a grumpy toddler quiet for an hour or two. I also buy in a stash of small drinks like little fruit shoots or capri suns and these are really handy to just throw in the change bag so I always have some juice on hand for him. I usually have a spare one in the boot too just incase I forget to grab one from the fridge. If we're going to be driving for a really long while then I usually make up a packed lunch for him as well with things that don't make too much mess in the car like some snack cheeses and yogurt pouches. I cannot stand food mess, especially all over his car seat so I opt for things that don't have crumbs!
He finds it really hard to sleep without his blanket and we have quite a few that are the same just with different patterns on so I've put one of them in the car and it just stays there permanently now. It's great to have on hand for long journeys as it will help him go to sleep easier. I also have a spare dummy in the glove box just incase I forget to clip his on before leaving home. Honestly it's crazy how handy it is to keep spares of things in the car so you don't end up rushing back home to grab things you've forgotten or have to scout for the nearest supermarket - yep been there!
What are your essentials for a road trip?
This post is in collaboration with Aviva Car Insurance.