7 Steps For a Successful Road Trip with a Toddler

It’s that time of year when gas prices skyrocket and families get on the road for the all American “road trip”. We are no different.  We packed up our car and got on the road to Cali.  We were looking for fun and sun….with a little relaxation thrown in the mix.  It can’t all be about the kids, right?

The key to our successful road trip was in the not planning.  The lovely tantrums that happen when babies turn into toddlers can be daunting, if not painful.  It occurs, you are in public and what do you do?  If it’s me, I crawl under the table and pretend I’m not there.  But, that’s not very motherly.

So, to avoid any uncomfortable bouts of tantrums with your perfect child, check out my well thought out list to get you thru that long road trip with your toddler. 

  1. Tranquilize Your Kids.  Okay, giving them a tranquilizer might be a bit much, so let’s just say, if they want to sleep, let them.  Don’t try to overstimulate them and think you have to do a bunch of games or talk.  Let the ride itself put them to sleep.  If they are whiny or board, that’s ok.  Road trips are about exploring, not being entertained 24/7.      I know, you are thinking I’m crazy, but there is a method to my madness.  Let them self soothe themselves.  image
  2. Pack Snacks – I’m not saying that have something at their every whim, but do have something should they get hungry and you can’t find a place to stop.  Plus, even if the kids aren’t hungry, you might need a snack as well.  Pack a mini cooler for the inside of the car and pack your favorite snacks.  I packed sliced apples, string cheese, cheddar bunnies and a few sandwiches. Less time stopping, means you arrive at your destination faster, which is the biggest goal.
  3. Let Your Kids Pack – Get the kids involved in the process and get a special backpack filled with only their stuff. Let them find a few little toys for the car and a soothie and put let them pack it. That way they feel a part of the trip.
  4. Plan for the Unexpected – I packed 2 extra set of clothes. You never know what could happen on a road trip and the last thing you want to do is to have your husband unpack the car, so you can get some clean clothes (I’m sure he agrees also). Food spills, diaper leakage, car sickness….it can happen.  So, be prepared and have the extra clothes.  If you don’t have to use them great, keep them for the car ride home.  You. Never. Know.
  5. Doggie Bags Aren’t Just for Leftovers – No, this does not mean you have to bring your fury friend, but I’m sure they would love if you did. But, it does make the road trip much easier with those little doggie bags. Should you have a blow out and need to store some poopy clothes, doggie poop bags are the answer.  The last thing you want to do is smell poop for the next 500 miles.  They are compact, which is nice when you need all the room you can get on a road trip.
  6. We Have Reached 20,000 Feet – The great thing about road trips is that you don’t have anyone telling you to turn off your electronic devices, as you do on an airplane trip.  On a road trip, the world is your oyster. So, if you have a fussy or cranky toddler…..bring out the magical devices.  I know what I said earlier about not having to entertain 24/7, but ignore that.  Desperate measures take desperate steps.  So remember, if at any time you were going to have to resort to this, now would be the time.  Download Netflix and viola (as long as you have an internet connection you are good).
  7. Pit Stops – I know it’s hard to  stop when you just want to get to your destination, but it can be hard for a kid to just sit in their car seat for long periods of time.  Just think…would you want o sit in that thing for hours? So, make at least two stops (depending on how many miles you are traveling), one to eat and let them stretch their legs.  Also, bring something into the restaurant to wear them out, like a coloring book.  A full tummy and some coloring equals a sleepy toddler.

As time goes on and your toddler gets older, it will be a whole new ball game.  Planning will be thrown out the window for a little uncertainty and exploration.  That’s what road trips are all about…..(not to mention the destination)!


Have fun and start exploring!



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