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Traveling with Toddlers

Making the Most of a Father-Son RV Trip

Carlos, our Lot Manager at AdventureKT, recently took his son Merle out on a 4-day Father-Son RV trip to Joshua Tree National Park.  We got a chance to catch up with him upon his return to get the download on how it all went.  Here are some highlights and tips, along with a few photos of these happy hikers and campers!

Merle and Carlos out on the trail!

Q: How old is your son and what motivated you to bring him out on an RV vacation? 

Carlos: Merle is a very happy and active 18-month-old.  The main motivation for going on this trip was to give my fiancé a little time to herself while the guys went off on an adventure.   I also really wanted an opportunity to have some quality time with Merle in the outdoors.

Merle and Carlos

Q: What were some of the trip highlights for you and Merle, and why?

Carlos: For the first time Merle was able to do a little hiking on his own versus being in my carry pack the entire time.  Each day he would walk a little further and further and it was exciting to see him push the distance that he felt comfortable motoring on his own.  It was clear that he was enjoying his new found independence and even picked up a stick to try and imitate the hiking sticks I was using.

Merle discovers the benefits of a walking stick 🙂

Hiking on his own

Q: What were some of the challenges associated with traveling with a toddler? 

Carlos: Merle is so active and curious, and the desert is filled with fun looking cactus that Merle really wanted to touch.  Keeping him from experiencing that definitely kept me on my toes.

Desert Merle

Merle enjoying the Super Bloom desert flowers

Q: What kind of kid carrier pack do you use?

Carlos: The Osprey POCO Child Carrier.  It’s really comfortable for both of us.  Maybe a little more so for him!

Osprey kid carrier

Merle enjoying the ride

Q: What things did you pack that made your trip more successful / easier?

Carlos: Lots of extra clothes to layer him up in the cold weather and clean him up after some dusty hikes. A beanie, sunglasses, sunscreen, mittens, diapers, wipes, lots of water and snacks. We hiked with small trash bags for dirty diapers and to pick up any trash we saw on the trails.  I tied his water bottle on a string to my carry pack so that Merle could get his water whenever he wanted without us stopping. He’s good at staying hydrated.

Sippy cup easily accessible

Q: What things do you wish you packed that would have helped the trip?

Carlos: I wish Merle had a little snack dispenser so that he could grab food while we were hiking.  Also, some ear-muffs would have been useful to better protect his ears in the wind.  I could have also used a little booster seat with a table so that he could eat more independently outside. We made a list of everything we forgot this trip so the next time we head out we’ll be set.

Q: Did you need to do anything to ‘baby-proof’ the RV? What style RV do you think is best when traveling with a toddler? 

Carlos: Inside the RV, every sharp object needed to be put up high.  I also put a board across the door to act like a baby gate to prevent Merle from going outside unexpectedly.   As for the RV type, the more open floor plan with less steps and low level doors/handles are best.  Also getting a bathroom layout that has more distance between the toilet and the shower allows for easier kid bathing.  The Class C vehicles are typically the best and the layouts of The Prism 2150, The Prism 2200 and the Coachmen 22QB work really well for little ones.

Merle is loving RV travel

2016 Coachmen Prism 2150

Q: What was the car-seat and sleeping set up for your son?

Carlos: The height and weight of your toddler will determine which direction they need to face in their car seat.  If you have a forward facing seat, be sure to ask if there is a seat-anker on the floor to attach the car seat for safety.

Great night sleep post hiking

Merle in Car Seat (RV is not in motion for this picture!)

Q: Would you do this trip again and if so, what would you do differently?

Carlos: For sure we would do this again.  Merle and I love being outside and experiencing nature which I believe has such a positive effect on him on so many levels.  He’s such a happy, curious and positive little guy and I believe being in the outdoors regularly plays a big roll in that now and will well into his future.

Q: Anything else you want to add?

Carlos: The less driving the better.  There are so many great places to experience within just a few hours of San Diego allowing you more time outdoors with your kids rather than sitting behind the wheel.  One great thing we brought was a propane operated ‘campfire in a can’ that can be safely controlled and avoids smoke and sparks. Oh, and be sure to book your campsites way in advance so you get a great spot!

Joshua Tree Campsite

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