Worried about taking a long road trip with a toddler in tow? Don’t be!
I’ve been road tripping with my toddlers since they were babies and let me tell you… a road trip with a toddler is a million times easier than a road trip with a baby.
Over the past three years we have made six 17 hour road trips between Kentucky and Texas, two 14 hour Texas to New Mexico road trips, and more 8+ hour road trips between North Carolina and Kentucky than I can count.
I’ve learned different ways to help my toddlers handle the long hours in the car and I want to share these tips and tricks with you so you can make your next long road trip with a toddler easier.
How To Make A Road Trip With A Toddler Easier
1. Entertaining Your Toddler
Probably the most difficult part of road tripping with a toddler is trying to keep them content and entertained. Some of the most toddler approved road trip entertainer are things that they don’t normally play with. My favorite way to keep my daughters entertained in the car is with mail.
I simply keep junk mail in the glove box of my car and get it out when they are getting fussy.
Here are some great ways to entertain your toddler on a road trip:
1. Color Wonder Markers and Coloring Books
2. a variety of snacks in different containers
3. random new toys from the dollar store (I put them in a little zip up lunch box for them to open and shut, getting toys out as they want them)
4. let them play with junk mail
5. deck of cards
6. create a busy wallet for your toddler to play with by filling an old wallet of business cards, gift cards, etc. that you don’t need anymore
Stopping to eat lunch at a park or green space is a good way to let toddlers burn some energy and take a break from sitting in their car seat.
While you are stopped for a picnic lunch, you can also do activities with your toddlers. Some simple and cheap fan favorites:
1. blow bubbles
2. finding a stream or puddle to jump in
3. play with dolls
4. kick a ball around
5. play with a frisbee
6. play iSpy
3. Take A Walk
Toddler can’t stand to be in the car any more? Stop for a walk!
You can stop at a popular hiking trail, a walk through a park, or even a walk through a city or small town that you are passing through. Changing the scenery, letting your toddler out of their car seat, and allowing them to burn some energy helps them be more agreeable to sitting in the car for a longer period of time.
Even better, if you are able to let your little one out of the car to take a walk when they are getting sleepy or right before nap time then they are more likely to sleep longer once they are back in the car.
4. Invest In Road Trip Products
My next biggest advice is that if you are able to, invest in some products that are especially good to have for road trips. Having a few luxuries definitely helps making a road trip with a toddler easier. Here are a few great options for your next road trip:
1. portable DVD player
3. a car dvd for the back of your head rest
4. a lap table to hold all of their favorite things
5. a neck pillow
6. a tablet
5. Bring Their Favorites
The last thing you want to have to deal with is a melt down. For my toddlers, their favorite toys are teddy bears. My oldest is sleeps with a stuffed Corduroy and my youngest, a stuffed Build a Bear named Cutie Pie. I wouldn’t dare leave the house without those two teddy bears, it would be a nightmare.
If you toddler plays with his blocks every single day, bring them with you. If your daughter likes to have a certain pillow every night.. make sure you don’t forget it! Taking things from home that feel familiar and comfortable can make a world of difference on a road trip.
6. Play Games
Road trip games are great for curbing boredom while in the car. Even when toddlers are young, they can still participate in some road trip games. Here’s a few ideas that are geared towards toddlers and preschool aged kids:
I spy something with my little eye and the color of it is… blue! Then, ask if your little one sees anything blue
2. Scavenger Hunt
Let’s see if we can find any mailboxes. Hmmmm are there any mail boxes out your window?
3. Habitat Game
Where does a fish live? the water! Where does a monkey live? the jungle!
4. Find the Shape
Let’s look for circles. The sun, a ball. the steering wheel, etc.
5. Big and Little
Let’s start by looking for small things. Do you see any small objects? Now, let’s look for big things.
6. Guess how many
How many trucks do you think we will see while we are on the road today? Let’s count how many birds we see.
7. Find the car
Can you find a red car? Do you see a car with words on its window?
7. Bring A Travel Potty
This may be number seven on this list, but this is my number one piece of road trip with a toddler advice! If your toddler is potty trained or just potty training, bring a little toddler potty with you on your road trip.
Our little toddler potty has come in handy while we were in a line of cars for over two hours waiting to get onto the drive on ferry to Ocracoke Island. It’s come in handy when we were stuck in traffic on the interstate and both my toddlers decided they had to pee right then and there. I’ve pulled over on the side of a country road for them
During the Coronavirus pandemic, I had to stop for gas, but did not want to take my daughters into the gas station to potty. So, I sat the little potty in the floorboard and let them use that instead.
They come in handy!
8. Travel At The Best Time
How much time I have to get us to our destination is how I decide when we should leave. For example, if it is going to be a SUPER long drive, like 14+ hour drive, I change up my sleep schedule so I can stay awake and drive us through the night while the girls sleep. This is the best way for me to handle that long of a trip with my toddlers.
On the other hand, if we have, for example, a 7 hour car ride ahead of us, I will leave first thing in the morning so that we have plenty of time for us to stop and stretch our legs or have a little picnic. Then my girls will be likely to nap the last couple hours of the road trip.
You just need to know your toddler. Think about what time you should start your road trip based on their needs/schedule, and based on your own needs and how you can handle the drive as well.
I’m wishing you the very best on your next road trip with a toddler! & if you have any tips to add to this list, drop them in the comments below!
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