10 Tips to Survive a Road Trip with a Toddler

10 tips to survive a road trip with a toddler

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Last weekend we drove from Strasbourg to Bourges, in the middle of France, for a weekend getaway. It’s a 6 hour drive, without stops. This easily turned into an 8-9 hour journey with the baby. We had to get creative to keep our energetic toddler occupied during the drive. Hopefully these survival tips help you on your next road trip! 

  1. Plan the driving around nap time. Avoid stopping if possible. It worked best for us to leave about an hour before Andrew would normally fall asleep.  Even if he’s sleeping soundly, if we stop the car, he’ll wake up. Try to have everything you need ready for that long stretch of driving. surviving road trip with toddler
  2. Travel during the day if possible. Andrew’s normally pretty happy to be in the car and look out the window or in the mirror at himself. If it’s dark outside, he can’t see very much and can get frustrated pretty quickly.
  3. Take strategic breaks. We planned our main stop to have a late lunch. This way there were less people at the restaurant, and we could take our time eating. After lunch, we let Andrew run around and climb all over the place to wear himself out a little.surviving road trip with toddler
  4. Bring along some interactive or musical books. Andrew loves them! He could only play with them a little on this trip because it gets dark so early now.
  5. Sing songs. My champion husband sang “The Wheels on the Bus” on repeat for over 45 minutes on the way home! To make it more fun you can alternate verses with your partner and sing it in a funny voice. Unfortunately, we realized that Andrew is NOT a fan of NPR podcasts or any Spotify playlist.
  6. Bring snacks. I am normally not one who turns to food to keep baby happy, but long road trips are the exception. I like bringing healthier snacks that don’t make too much of a mess. One of our favorites is blueberry mini muffins. Make sure the snack is something you’re comfortable with your child eating independently.
  7. Have the diaper bag packed and ready to grab for your pit stops. Even though you packed baby items in the luggage, you don’t want to have to dig around the car at a gas station. We always travel with our SkipHop diaper bag and on the go changing station. The small “diaper bag” holds diapers and wipes and even folds out into its own changing mat. What a life saver! You can find both items on the SkipHop website.
    survive a road trip with a toddler, Skip Hop diaper bag
    survive a road trip with a toddler, Skip Hop changing mat
  8. In a desperate moment when Andrew threw all his toys on the floor and was getting really frustrated, we opened and closed the sunroof cover over and over. That was a solid 30 minutes of entertainment!
  9. Be prepared to sit in the backseat. In the final stretch of our trip, he was fed up with being restrained in the car seat. Nothing I could do from the front passenger seat would help. So we decided to take a break, stretch our legs, and rearrange the luggage so I could sit next to Andrew. He was much happier to have someone right there to entertain him.
  10. Bring earplugs to block out the crying. Just kidding!

Gone are the days of driving long stretches listening to music (or sitting in silence). But here we are in the days of taking road trips and showing fun new places to our sweet baby boy. So, try to stay calm during the frustrating moments and remember that the potentially difficult drive is worth the destination. And hopefully by the time you arrive, your little one will be worn out and sleep like a baby. Happy travels!surviving road trip with toddler

What are your favorite tips to surviving a road trip with kids? Do you have any memorable melt down moments? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!


32 thoughts on “10 Tips to Survive a Road Trip with a Toddler

  1. karen

    Awesome tips to keep that insane road trip a much more manageable one! Being in the backseat is a reality… haha… so great reminder there!

  2. Reesa Lewandowski

    I have had so many meltdown moments LOL. Always have an extra set (or 2) of clothes for you and baby!

  3. Cathy Neal

    I was flying once when my daughter was just under a year and got delayed on the runway for hours due to fog. She sat on my lap and was fascinated with the man’s glasses who was sitting next to us. And he had no children and wanted no children! But he was a good sport and we finally got to our destination with our sanity somewhat intact. ?

  4. Lesley Carter

    Great tips! My daughter is four years old and we still love to sing songs in the car. Every hour, on the hour, we sing nursery rhymes.

  5. Blythe Alpern

    My niece and nephew are older now, but I feel like they were less trouble to travel with as babies and toddlers. Or at least I don’t remember my sister complaining as much as about them driving her crazy. LOL. But you really do need to be prepared.

  6. Angela Tolsma

    I don’t have kids but when I have road tripped with friends with kids I always sat in the back to entertain, makes it easier and then usually I nap when the kids are napping! HAHA I love you tip 8! It’s so true!

  7. Kecia

    We usually had good luck traveling when our kids were toddlers. Once, however, the oldest got sick in the car on a 5 hour road trip. It was terrible! Luckily, we had a change of clothes in the backseat so everything turned out okay.

  8. Taylor Mobley

    I don’t have kids, and I’ve never travelled with them. I prefer to be a passenger so I can snooze while my hubby drives! That is my favorite way to road trip. LOL. My husband doesn’t always appreciate that….

  9. Theresa

    Aw, what a cutie. I must have just been liking your photos of the little one on Instagram because they look super familiar. Good to check out the blog post too!

  10. Nikki

    I agree with all of your suggestions. Road trips are hard for kids, but even more so when your child can’t fully communicate with you yet. I used to have to take a lot of breaks with my boys and make sure I had plenty of snacks and activities for them.

  11. Krista

    What a cutie! I am just starting into the toddler years with my youngest. I am not looking forward to car trips with her! I’m glad you found something that works for you!

  12. Christina Aliperti

    Road trips can be tough for just adults, so it’s scary to think about doing one with a toddler on board. These are very helpful tips.

  13. Leslie Hernandez

    Wow I don’t have kids yet but going on a road trip with a toddler can go either way chaotic or smooth. These are great tips I will definitely keep handy if I have kids in the near future!!

  14. Nanouk | Digital Nomad with Kids

    LOL great tioa, and funny written! On our last road trip (from Rotterdam, the NLs, to Basel in Switzerland, also a solid 9 hours) our toddler got car sick. He threw up 4 times. And our baby had the chicken pox and had a fever. This may sound like the worst road trip ever, but we managed 😉 singing songs is a good one here as well, I know a whole lot of Disney songs by heart. Oh and like you with sunroof, we open and close the window over and over again. Entertainment for a toddler, you have to be creative 😉


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