RV Travel with a Toddler

The younger the kid, the more items you need to bring along to make life a little bit easier. That being said, traveling with Alex and Abby was easier when he was younger than 1 year compared to his 1 to 2 year old self.

Abby_inMotion
Where everyone travels while Abby is in motion. Buster is hiding on his bed behind the driver’s seat.

Car Seat: Alex travels in Abby in his car seat. Besides being legally required and the fact Abby is essentially a giant fiberglass box, what other reasons does one really need? Alex is a curious little boy and climbs around non-stop while we are camping, he would be thrilled to be able to be up front in a prime viewing seat. Just too much chance for serious injury. Alex’s car seat provides protection.

The car seat is stored in the driver’s seat when we stop and camp. This has two benefits. First, it is out of the way. Second, it keeps Alex from climbing into the driver’s seat and flashing Abby’s high beams at the poor folks camped across from us. Alex really likes the driver’s seat because of all the buttons and knobs to with which to fiddle.

Alex having a blast in the driver's seat.
Alex having a blast in the driver’s seat.

Sleeping: Alex slept in this Fisher-Price Rock-‘n-Play Sleeper up to approximately 8 months in age. We LOVED this sleeper. Folded up compact and fit in the drop down bunk above the cab and had a very small foot print. This sleeper easily fit near the sleeper sofa and the dogs had the dinette benches to sleep on. Wins all around.

Then Alex got too big and too mobile to safely use the sleeper. So we changed to the Pack ‘n Play. More room for Alex means more room needed for the Pack ‘n Play. We actually fold down the dinette and place the Pack ‘n Play on top; it takes up 2/3 of the dinette sleeping space. Now only one dog can sleep on the available bench. It is also a pain to break down the dinette nightly and put it back up in the morning. Oh, and the TV has to be unplugged because Alex and reach up and turn it on. And the light bulbs need to be taken out of the kitchen light because he can reach the switch. Minor, nerve grating points.

Our troubles with the Pack ‘n Play will soon be a thing of the past since Alex is now getting too big for that. We will be investigating new sleeping arrangements – the current top contender is Dave sleeping on the top bunk and Alex sleeping with Jess on the fold out sofa. We are looking to add a barrier to the front of the top bunk so Alex can safely sleep up there by himself. This will require Dave’s tools, which happen to be in our storage trailer, which, at this time, is still located in upstate NY.

Clothes/Diapers: Little baby, small clothes, many more items that can be packed in the same space as the larger, bulkier, toddler clothes. Same for diapers. With diapers, we have a small shelf that can fit about 32 diapers and a package of wipes next to the TV. Extra diapers are stored under the sofa. A project is in the works to make this into a more accessible storage space. Found these organizers on Amazon for storing Alex’s clothes. Purchased three. They work very well and we are pleased with them. They take up the large cabinet above the dinette bench next to the fridge. Overall, the system works well.

Toys: This was one that was much easier when Alex was less mobile. A limited selection of toys was required since Alex slept a good portion of the day. As he has gotten older, a more diverse set of toys is required to hold his interest over his waking hours. We have blocks, puzzles, magnets, books, crayons, paper, trucks, trains, and stuffed animals. Our current storage system is less than ideal: center cabinet above dinette and the dinette bench while underway, cab when stopped. Include the fact that Alex is very mobile and likes to dump his blocks, poor Abby is brimming with chaos.

Alex and Abby – A history

Alex and Abby met for the first time when Alex was just shy of three months old. It was not love at first sight. Alex was tired and cranky and didn’t seem to appreciate the test drive. But good parents that we are, we overrode Alex’s objections and purchased Abby.

August 2014: Alex’s first trip in Abby was an overnight shakedown run to Pequea Creek Campground in Pennsylvania. It was on this run that future thoughts for organization started to present themselves. But nothing too disastrous and we were only an hour away from home.

Ommegang
Jess enjoying a beer, back during the days Alex would sleep at a bar.

October 2014: Alex and Abby had more time to bond on their next trip to Cooperstown, NY area over Columbus Day weekend. We dragged Alex not to the Baseball Hall of Fame, but to Brewery Ommegang. That’s just how we parent. We were fortunate because Alex was still at a stage where he slept – a lot. And wasn’t super mobile so he perfectly content to hang out in his car seat at the table while we ate and chatted. We stayed at Beaver Spring Lake Campground, which had full hook ups. This was very fortuitous because the overnight lows were high 20s. No water lines froze despite our lack of an arctic package. Alex seemed to enjoy himself on this trip and it was deemed rather successful.

Alex enjoying some tummy time outside on the dinette cushions.
Alex enjoying some tummy time outside on the dinette cushions.
Alex snuggled up in his Storchenwiege carrier.
Alex snuggled up in his Storchenwiege carrier.

Novermber 2014: Alex took his first trip to Cape Henlopen State Park. This is a beautiful campground area, with some spots very nicely shaded. Being late in the season, the campground was sparsely populated, save some tent campers who were competing in the ‘Skate the Cape’ event weekend. Looked like a fun event; everyone that we interacted with was extremely nice. A drawback at Cape Henlope is the park staff don’t want RVs parking off of the pavement; there are only a few spots that don’t resemble parallel parking. It would be nice if one could be trusted to use their own judgement and park on the hard pack sand, but I am sure experience has taught the staff that most people overestimate their or their vehicle’s abilities. Review the park map and choose wisely. While there are water hook ups, some of the spigots are at least 50′ away from the spot they are assigned to service; pack two sanitary water hoses just in case.

Alex_Hammock
Alex taking a nap in the RV campground at Firefly. Resting up for a big day of concerts and people watching.

June 2015: 2015 started out relatively quiet with a trip to Cape Henlopen and the Outer Banks as a quick weekend shake down runs ahead of a busy summer travel schedule. After that the travel season became very hectic. First, was our trip to the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DE the weekend of June 18 – 21. We had been debating on going, but when they announced Paul McCartney was headlining, we decided to go for it. Alex seemed to have a really fun time; we introduced him to the WeeRide which he loved. He had a strong dislike for his bike helmet initially, but once he made the connection between the helmet and going for a bike ride, all was okay. Alex enjoyed snoozing in the hammock and got to “see” Paul McCartney in concert. Never fear, he had ear protection on whenever we were on the concert grounds.

IMG_20150705_195353640
Alex enjoying dirt along the snake river in Wyoming.

June/July 2015Less than a week after we returned from Firefly, Abby spirited all of us (including the dogs) off on a 3 week western adventure. This trip started with failed turbo resonator, but there were no more mechanical failures on the trip. Alex had a great time playing in dirt and “driving” the RV.

Alex enjoying Mama's biscuits and gravy so much he is using two spoon.
Alex enjoying Mama’s biscuits and gravy so much he is using two spoon.

September 2015: Abby took Alex on his first trip out of the country! We drove up to Saint-Alphonse-Rodriguez, in Quebec. It was a fun trip. We were only a little bit nervous at the border crossings because Alex’s favorite phrase at this time was ‘uh oh’. We didn’t think it would be wise to answer the border guard’s question with ‘uh oh’.


October 2015:
Just when Alex and Abby were going to have to say good-bye to each other for a few months, we decided to throw two October trips into the mix. The first was over Columbus Day weekend to the Mansfield area of Pennsylvania. Dave rode his motorcycle up and Jess drove the RV. Alex and the dogs got a bonus visit to the farm to visit Mimi and Grandpa. We stayed at Tanglewood Campground which was very family friendly. Costume parade for the kids and what we heard was a very well done haunted trail ride.

Tanglewood
Morning at Tanglewood Campground.

 

We decided to take a trip to visit all the remaining Northeast states before we moved west. So Alex and Abby hit the road together again to Acadia National Park in Maine. This was the most dog-friendly park we have visited where dogs are allowed on most trails. Our creature triple feature had a great time. Abby was challenged with no hook-ups and short, cloudy days prevented the solar panels from recharging the batteries. We needed to run the generator to charge the batteries. Except we overestimated our propane levels and couldn’t find anywhere to fill up since it was the end of the season and most places had closed down. To add to the challenge, the coach batteries weren’t recharging from the engine. Thus, a very delicate game of cat and mouse was played between propane and battery levels. This trip happened to be the trip that the transmission failed; while Abby didn’t see Alex home to the door, she did arrange a ride for him in a big rig.

Abby being towed from the EZ-Pass administration building parking lot.
Abby being towed from the EZ-Pass administration building parking lot.

December 2015/January 2016: And we can’t forget the cross-country move! Alex and Abby had lots of quality time together as we meandered across the South and up the Pacific Coast Highway to Davis, CA. Check out our detailed blog posts chronicling this journey. There are many more than the one linked, check out the archives or the category ‘Travel Diary: 2016 DE to CA’.

One of our greatest concerns with all the traveling we do is making sure Alex is having fun. We can’t know for sure, but he always gets excited when he sees Abby and wants to climb aboard. All said and done, we let this picture speak volumes.

Alex the traveling man as Abby moves him down the road.
Alex the traveling man as Abby moves him down the road.