I thought it would be a great idea to turn our drive back to the UK from Austria into a road trip. I had all sorts of plans. First we would be organised and be ready to leave on time. We would head off early and stop for breakfast by the scenic Lake Bodensee (Constance in English). Then drive for 3 hours or so to our lunch stop at Wildpark Pforzheim. We would then have time for an afternoon break at one of the fab looking playgrounds in Luxembourg. Before stopping for the night on a farm near Arlon in Belgium. On the second day, we would then have a simple, short drive to the coast to catch the ferry. However, a road trip with a toddler does not always go to plan. Here is the reality of day one…
Road Trip with a Toddler – the reality
- Leave an hour late. Because we have once again underestimated how much there is to still pack into the car in the morning.
- Set off.
- Remember we need to pick up something from a friend’s house.
- Finally set off.
- 20 minutes later, toddler copiously throws up all over self, clothes and car seat. This is the toddler who is never ill.
- Spend 20 minutes at the road side frantically trying to clean a car seat with wet wipes. And extract spare clothes from the car without everything else falling out.
- Set off again.
- Peer round at toddler every 30 seconds to make sure she is ok.
- Realise that you have not bought gifts for people back home.
- Veer off motorway to pop into the Milka factory shop to purchase gifts. The air around here smells lush – basically of melted chocolate – mmm.
- It is now way past breakfast time and you are a mere 30 minutes down the road from where you set off. So have breakfast in a petrol station car park. Not a scenic bench overlooking Lake Bodensee.
- Plough onwards. Having picked up some air freshener from the petrol station to try and make the car seat smell nicer.
- Do actually make it to Wildpark Pforzheim at something that could almost be called lunch time. Late lunch time. Give the toddler a well-earned break running around pointing at animals.
- Hit the road and wave wistfully at lovely looking playgrounds in Luxembourg as they pass by.
- By abandoning the afternoon stop we actually make it to Arlon before dark. So the toddler can have another hour or so running around the farm pointing at animals – yay!
I think the moral of this story is to be flexible when travelling with toddlers. And to have a plan b (possibly plan c, d, and so on…) And just relax and go with the flow. To be honest, the toddler is just as happy stretching her legs in Lidl as in a wildlife park. Oh, and don’t give her a different milk to normal just before setting off for a 7 hour drive…