Hi! My name is Brit. I am mom to a wonderful 16 month old named Ollie and I’ve always had a love for camping. I really don't think anything compares to being outdoors, disconnected from the "real-world", spending time with loved ones. So when we came up with the idea to take Ollie on a road trip to Canada and camp in an RV with family for 7 days, I was so excited! I could not wait to show our son the beauty of the outdoors and spend time with our family. But, there was still a lot of packing, organizing and planning to do before we could hit the road.
I definitely feel like I learned quite a bit from our first road trip with Ollie, here are what I found to be the most helpful tips and tricks for road-tripping/RV’ing with our toddler:
1. Pack by outfit with gallon storage bags
- A few days before our departure I gathered a bunch of Ollie’s clothes, a box of gallon storage bags, a marker and got to work. I separated, folded and organized enough outfits for the trip (+ extras), packed them into the storage bags and wrote a description of the outfit on the outside of each bag – i.e. “Shorts + tank top”, or “Sweatpants, t-shirt + zip-up hoodie”. I thought this would provide a quick reference when dressing Ollie and anything that makes getting my toddler dressed quicker and easier I’m a fan of! I couldn’t have been happier with how organized this made me feel! No matter what Mother Nature threw at us during the trip, we simply had to look at the outside of the bags to quickly see what clothing items they contained; he was dressed for the weather in no time. As an added (and surprise!) bonus, whenever I was changing Ollie, I simply put his dirty clothes into the new outfit’s bag – so, if I grabbed a bag and saw that the contents didn’t match the label, I automatically knew that they were dirty clothes. This packing method was seriously so helpful; I will definitely be packing all of our clothes this way for every trip we go on!
2. Make your must-haves extremely accessible
- We have a plastic, 3-drawer container in our family room and each drawer is filled with different types of toys. I really wanted to avoid having to unload, unzip or unpack any of our bags while we were on the road. We decided that utilizing our 3-drawer container would be a perfect solution and, after packing up everything else, put it in the back of our SUV so we could quickly get to it whenever we stopped somewhere. We packed it with all of our essentials – top drawer was toys (so we could easily switch them out when Ollie started to get bored), second drawer had food and snacks, and the bottom drawer had extra clothes, diapers and wipes. It made all of our pit stops a breeze!
3. Bring a stroller!
- This may be an obvious one. Since we were bringing our carrier and our Pack ‘n Play, I didn’t think we would need our stroller. I was so wrong. Every day at the RV park I was wishing we had our stroller, mainly for naps and bedtime. There really wasn’t enough room in the RV to set up the Pack ‘n Play, and, although Ollie fits in his carrier still, he’s a little too heavy for me to carry around while he is napping. And since he is still in his crib at home, I didn’t feel comfortable leaving him on any of the beds in the RV to take naps. It would have been much easier to walk him in the stroller until he dozed off. Then we could have simply kept the stroller right next to us while we still enjoyed time outside. One of the other families we were with did this and it was such a good idea!
4. Temporary fence
- Ollie is at a stage where he wants to be independent and do things on his own, but still doesn’t listen to or follow complex directions. During our trip, I kept thinking about how great it would be to have some sort of fence so that Ollie could still roam free, but we could somehow keep him contained and have boundaries. If I had thought of this before our trip, I definitely would have purchased the Play Safe Fence from Camping World, you can view them here.
Below is a quick list of items we had that I found to be extremely useful, and also a list of things that I wish we had thought to bring.
What we had:
- Water shoes – these were great to have when we went exploring at the beach!
- Toys – we tried to bring a wide variety so that we could keep recycling them throughout the trip and keep Ollie entertained
- Sunscreen/insect spray for kids
- Hats (cold weather and warm weather)
- Clothes for layering
- Dry snacks (snack bag) – dry snacks in the car were an absolute lifesaver! Dried blueberries were definitely the biggest hit. We also kept snacks in a little travel bag, so when Ollie was hungry he just pointed to the snack bag and we knew exactly what he wanted!
- Easily accessible storage
- Organized clothes
What I wish we had:
- Play pen/temporary fence
- Toddler camping chair – we tried to buy this particular chair for Ollie the day we were leaving, but unfortunately in our rush to get on the road we accidentally only bought the umbrella that attaches to the chair
- Plastic tub for baths – we had a full shower in our RV plus the park’s showers, which were great! But Ollie loves bath time at home, so it would have been nice to give him baths in a “tub” while on our trip
- Extra empty bags
o One for dirty dishes/sippy cups – it would have been so awesome to have an extra bag that we could toss dirty dishes into until we got back to the RV to wash them!
o Dirty clothes – even though we had the storage bags for Ollie’s clothes, I kept thinking how much I would have loved to have a large communal bag for all of our dirty clothes. We ended up using a garbage bag, which definitely worked, but I think I would have felt more organized with a sturdier travel bag.
All in all, even if I felt like we forgot a few things, it was an amazing trip and we have some great memories that will last a lifetime. Ollie had a great time, and we can’t wait to take him on more adventures!
Do you have any tips for traveling/camping/RV’ing with toddlers? We’d love to hear them! Comment below and let us know what has worked for you!
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