There's no denying that traveling anywhere with a toddler, including the supermarket, is a lesson in patience and careful planning, lest a tearful meltdown or potty accident ruin the outing. If that's the case in your house, you might immediately reject the idea of taking a road trip with your child. Don't do that, however, because traveling the country in an RV allows you to bring many of the comforts of home along with you. It'll take planning, but using an RV will increase the odds that your family vacation will be enjoyable and successful.
Benefits of an RV
As a parent of a toddler, you already know the sheer amount of stuff you have to take with you when you run an errand, let alone go on vacation. An RV makes traveling with your toddler more convenient because you only have to pack once and you don't have to unpack and re-pack as you would if you stayed in hotels, the Stanford University website notes. With an RV, you load it up with everything your toddler needs and have it close at hand the entire time you're traveling. An RV also eliminates the need for your toddler to be restrained in a car seat for several hours a day. That can reduce boredom, tantrums and whining. Of course, that doesn't mean that you won't restrain your toddler at all. Check the laws in areas you're traveling regarding how to keep your toddler safe while traveling in an RV, Goldie Gendler Silverman recommends in her book "Camping with Kids: The Complete Guide to Car, Tent, and RV Camping."
Planning the Trip
Just because an RV makes it easier to travel with a toddler doesn't mean that you won't need to carefully plan ahead. Sit down with your partner and plan your route. Consider where RV parks are located along your route, and make reservations at spots that have bathrooms and shower facilities. You'll also want to make reservations at places that have areas for your toddler to run and explore, especially after being cooped up on the RV for several hours. If you're a beginner, make your first trip just an hour or two from your home, Marian Eure suggests in her book, "The Everything Family Guide To RV Travel And Campgrounds." This gives you chance to get your toddler used to RV travel before taking a longer vacation.
What to Bring
Yes, toddlers require a staggering amount of stuff, but the trick to a successful RV trip is to only take what's absolutely necessary. Of course you'll need the necessities such as food, clothing, sleeping equipment and basic hygiene supplies, including diapers and wipes. If you plan to park at RV parks, you won't need to take as much water because there will be hookups where you can access fresh water, Eure reports. Take along activities for rainy days, too. Coloring books and small toys can make the difference between a cranky toddler and a happy toddler. Consider taking a laptop as well, which can come in handy if you need to make changes to your travel plans and to send pictures of your adorable toddler home to Grandma and Grandpa.
Always have a backup plan just in case. Toddlers get sick, parents lose their patience and a myriad of other things can come up along the way. Having a plan to cut your trip short, if necessary, can help you take action instead of panicking. If you plan to cross the border into Canada or Mexico, have the necessary documentation handy, which can include passports, your driver's license and your toddler's birth certificate. Take first aid equipment, such as bandages and ice packs, and any medications that your toddler takes, too. You might also write down important phone numbers and directions in case your cellphone or GPS system loses connection along the way.