This year, instead of our annual trip to Davao, Mikey’s family spent Lola’s birthday in Baguio City. I have to admit that I was one of the few only people who was happy about the change. I love Baguio. And I love any reason to escape Manila’s dreadful heat.
Traveling to Baguio is trickier now that we have a toddler. I have to say though, going up to Baguio was the epitome of a great how to article. On the other hand, our ride back to Manila was the perfect what NOT to do article. Oh well. You win some, you lose some. Hahaha. Here’s what we learned from our trip!
How to Survive a Road Trip with a Toddler
1. Prepare Your Toddler
A week or so leading up to Baguio, we started telling Max about the trip to get him excited. We explained that we would be going up the mountains and he could ride the horses when we got there. We also told him that the roads were zig-zaggy and he would need to stay in his car seat to keep safe.
This worked out like a charm because we had no problems keeping Max in his car seat for most of his waking hours during our ride up to Baguio. Max sat quietly, asking us questions about the trees, the Hulk, clouds, Spider-Man, and birds.
I think it really helped that Max knew what was expected of him. When he would fidget, I would remind him that he needed to stay buckled in because of the zig-zaggy roads.
2. Leave Very Early!
I convinced Mikey to leave by 7:00 AM. I wanted to leave much earlier, but Mikey refused. He was driving, so there was no arguing with him. I thought I would wake Max up when we were about to leave, but he woke up as soon as I got out of the shower.
It was perfect because he got to have a quick oatmeal breakfast before we left. Initially, I thought Max would end up asleep in my arms for the first few hours of the trip and we would feed him breakfast on the road. This was much easier. We didn’t have to worry about getting Max breakfast anymore, so he could just snack on the things we packed if he got hungry.
The best thing about it is, he fell asleep as soon as we hit NLEX and didn’t wake up until we were about to hit Marcos Highway. He slept for the longest driving stretches, and woke up in time to see our ascent to the mountaintop!
3. Take Pee Breaks While the Toddler Sleeps
I forbade Mikey from stopping before Max napped. I knew that it was wonky/sleepy-ville and if we stopped, Max would want to go down with Mikey. It would’ve been difficult to get him back into the car.
So Mikey was more mindful of his liquid intake so he wouldn’t have to pee a lot. We didn’t stop until Max was completely asleep. It worked pretty well. By the time Max woke up, Mikey only needed go on one pee break and it was right before we hit Marcos Highway. Max happily sat in his car seat again because we told him that we were finally going up the mountains.
4. Exchange Screen Time with Window Time
We loaded our iPad and phones with all sorts of shows and movies to keep Max entertained on the trip. We were so surprised that he didn’t need any of it during the ride up.
He’s interested in so many things these days, so it’s getting easier to keep him entertained without screen time. We kept him engaged by pointing at stuff outside. We also sang a bunch of songs that he knew to help keep him engaged.
Neither of us wanted to mention it incase we would jinx it, but Mikey finally mentioned it when we reached the city proper. It felt like a huge achievement on our end!
5. Pack A LOT of Food and Water
I went overboard with Max’s snacks and drinks for our ride up. But it turned out to be really helpful! Max wanted a snack as soon as he woke up and he got to have some milk and cheese.
It turns out, Max doesn’t mind hanging out in his car seat as long as he has something to munch on. When we got to Baguio city and traffic was slow, Max kept himself busy by peeling out the whites of his oreos.
How to Barely Survive a Road Trip with a Toddler
1. Don’t Have Your Car Checked
This was our biggest mistake of the trip. On the day we left, we noticed that the aircon wasn’t really working. Actually, it started acting up the day before, but we didn’t really notice because it was so cold that we didn’t really need to turn on the air conditioning.
At first, I didn’t think it was a big deal. I thought, at worst, it meant that it would be a warm ride home. But it turned out to be such a huge safety hazard.
It was raining really hard, so we couldn’t open any of the windows without getting soaked. When we kept the windows closed, it would get all fogged up because it was warmer inside the car compared to the outside.
So we ended up having to hit an air conditioning repair shop before we could drive back to Manila. When the repairmen filled our air conditioner with freon, they warned us to be careful. If there’s a leak, it meant that we would be able to smell the freon through the air conditioner. And if we did smell it, it could be harmful to us, but most especially to Max. So they advised us not to drive or to turn the air conditioner off.
Needless to say, it was a stressful drive down the zig-zaggy road. I’m just grateful that Max was asleep for all of that. We’ll definitely have our car checked before our next trip.
2. Make Lots of Long Stops
We “wasted” Max’s nap by making lots of stops on our way down. Mikey needed more cash because of the air conditioning system repair, so we needed to look for an ATM. And then we were at the air conditioner repair shop for a while before we could get going again.
By the time Max woke up, we had just gotten off the zig-zaggy roads. That was his only nap during the trip. So I had to entertain him the rest of the way.
3. Take the Wrong Route
Because we had to look for an air conditioning repair shop, we ended up at the other end of Baguio. So when Mikey used Waze to course our route back at home, we didn’t realize that it would take us through the small town route instead of the major thoroughfares. By the time Mikey realized it, it was too late.
This added 1-2 more hours to our travel time. Next time, we’ll make sure to double check Waze’s suggested route before heading off.
4. Feed The Toddler A Lot of Junk Food
Admittedly, Max was pretty well behaved during our long trip home. The great thing about this age is that you can talk to him and he’s really more likely to obey if he understands why. And if he can’t seem to understand, it’s also pretty easy to bribe him.
To keep him in a good mood, I presented Max with my bag full of snacks. Max was so excited. He ate for an hour straight. He had chips, milk, water, cookies, and crackers. Welp, any mom reading this can probably tell what’s going to happen next.
Max threw up. He threw up big time. And I caught it with my hands.
Miraculously, Mikey and I were as calm as a pickle. I think we were in such a pleasant mood because we managed the stressful zig-zaggy road drive. We just kept saying, “That’s OK buddy. You’ll be OK.” Mikey stopped on the side of the road while I cleaned Max up.
It was pretty drama-free, and apart from the hint of puke smell that lingered in the air, it was almost like it didn’t happen. Next time though, I’m packing more cleaning supplies in the car! And maybe a small can of air freshener too.
5. Screen Time
I had to find ways to keep Max entertained, so I succumbed to his request for screen time. He had A LOT of screen time during this trip. This is the first trip where Max finally discovered the wonders of cable television. He spent a lot of time hanging out in our hotel room, watching Cartoon Network, The Disney Channel, and Nickelodeon.
He missed it almost as soon as he woke up and asked to watch videos on my phone. I think this may have contributed to him throwing up. I wish I had tried to engage him in other ways instead. He gets really wound up when he has too much screen time.
6. Pack the Extra Diapers in Your Suitcase
I’m not sure if Max picked up something viral while we were in Baguio. Some of his cousins had a cold, so it’s likely that he got a bug of some kind. On our way down, Max pooped three times.
By the time we got to EDSA, I had changed Max’s diaper 5 times. I had finally run out of my reserve stash and the rest of his nappies were packed in our big suitcase. Fortunately, I had some of his potty training underwear in an accessible bag. And even more fortunately, he didn’t poop again for the rest of the evening.
Next time, I’m keeping all of his diapers in an accessible bag!
Baguio will always have a special place in my heart because that’s where Mikey proposed almost five years ago. I love taking Max there and sharing our story with him. I’m also very partial to cooler weather. This isn’t the first time we drove up with Max, and I’m happy to report that it is getting easier! Hopefully, we’ll be able to head up there again soon.