Our first road trip with our baby was absolutely awful. Our mission: Drive through the night so that our baby could sleep pretty much throughout the whole trip. But the exact opposite happened–he cried through the night. We were moving, stressed and low on sleep, so you can imagine how awful this road trip was from the get go, but then you add a baby not sleeping the whole night and now it’s in the MISERABLE–JUST SHOOT ME category. Obviously, it wasn’t his fault so we didn’t blame him but either way it was miserable.
The thought of traveling with a toddler was even more terrifying after our baby road trip experience. A road trip with a toddler seemed overwhelming–they’re wiggle worms, want to pee every 15 minutes and are hungry every 30 minutes so I definitely wasn’t looking forward to this.
But if you know me, I’m always up for a good challenge. This time around I was going to be more prepared and we were NOT going to drive through the night, I learned my lesson from our first road trip.
Since our first, break us in, awful road trip experience, we’ve had good experiences (for the most part). Well, there was that time everyone was throwing up but those circumstances were out of our control. We enjoying traveling and do it quite often by car and/or plane so I’m glad we moved past our first horrible experience and discovered the joy that can be had in traveling as a family with littles. I share our tips for airplane trips here.
Every kid is different and some of these ideas may work with your kids and others may not. Give them a try and pass along the advice to others.
Surviving a Road Trip with a Toddler
1. Make sure everyone goes potty before you leave the house. I know this is an easy one but it’s also an easy one to forget in the midst of trying to get everything packed in the car and making sure you haven’t left anything.
2. Get an early start. Take breakfast on the go and head out as soon as you can. I personally like to pack the car the night before and get going. I know many people tell you to drive at night but the story I shared above is the reason I’m not into driving at night. But if it works for your littles, then go for it.
3. Stop. Don’t be afraid to stop and squeeze in some wiggle time. I like to stop at parks but before we stop I tell them how long they have to play and then we’re back in the car. If a park isn’t convenient then just pull over and let them get their wiggles out.
4. Speaking of getting their wiggles out, make sure to make a playlist or pack their favorite cd’s. I had one child who loved to watch tv and another one who could care less but put some tunes on and he was entertained forever. Don’t forget to sing along, that’s what family trip memories are made of.
5. Basket of toys and books! Place a basket of their toys right next to the car seat and also place one next to your seat, filled with more of their toys. This way if they dump all their toys you can hand them some from the front.
6. In a zip-loc baggie place snack for different times. So, if your road trip is 3 hours long, you may need 3-4 snack bags already prepared and ready to hand to them. The last thing you want to do while you’re driving is divvy up a bag of crackers. This also helps keep any leftovers in one place, the baggie, not all over the car. Healthy snacks that are easy to pack are: grapes cut in half, pretzels, apple bites, strawberries, fruit snacks, peanuts…
7. Always bring extra sippy cups. We have a sippy cup monster that always manages to snatch our sippy cups away and we can’t find them for weeks. Make sure you have enough water for all of you to stay hydrated.
8. Make a binder with printables and insert them inside sheet protectors and let them draw on them. I love the new dry erase crayons. If you do let your little use dry erase markers make sure you’ve bought the kid friendly kind and if they have the washable kind–buy those.
9. Have an extra set of clothes near you in case of an emergency. Always have an extra pair of clothes with you when traveling with a toddler, even if you’re just going to the grocery store.
10. Hand or kitchen towels are one of my favorite things to pack when we travel. I never know when I’m going to need to clean up a mess so I pack a few.
11. Have a few activities planned. You can play I Spy or Bingo. Stop at a dollar store and pick up a few toys, believe me it will be the best money you’ve spent.
12. Make a travel tray! You’ll need a cookie sheet and all things magnetic: magnetic letters, magnetic story boards, magnetic clips so you can place a sheet of paper on it for them to color on. I’ll be sharing our Lego Travel tray with you soon.
13. If this is your first time driving to your destination make sure you figure out in advance your meal options if you plan on eating out for them. You don’t want to pass up your last restaurant options at 5 p.m when all of your kiddos are hungry. We like to pack a picnic for one of our meals usually lunch this gives us time outdoors and we’re not spending tons of money. Here’s a free app iExit that helps you find amenities available in upcoming exits.
14. Don’t be in such a rush, it will only frustrate you when you end up in traffic, your kids take to long eating or going to the bathroom. I’m not saying piddle the whole way through but remember they are just 2 or 3 years old and they’re probably looking at this as a fun way to connect with you, after all you’re stuck in the car for the next 5 hours so make the most of it and enjoy your time together. Enter your starting point and your destination and the Roadtrippers app (Free on iTunes and Google Play) will find you interesting places like amusement parks, adventure sports, historical markers and hiking, and you’ll see places pop up along your driving route.
15. Most importantly make sure you have a good and comfortable car seat that’s been tested for structural integrity for your child. Evenflo® has an awesome one the that grows with your child because who wants three seats to get rid of by the time their 7 years old. It’s called Evenflo Platinum Evolve 3-in-1 Combination Seat, it’s comfy and has built in cup inserts, it meets or exceeds all applicable Federal Safety Standards and Evenflo’s Side Impact Test Standard.
What road trip with toddlers tips do you have?
You can get it at your local department store or Babies R Us it’s called Evenflo Platinum Evolve 3-in-1 Combination Seat
Evenflo® is taking extended use and comfort to the next level with the introduction of the Evenflo Platinum Evolve 3-in-1 car seat.
The Evenflo Platinum Evolve 3-in-1 Combination Seat features an innovative design allowing you to transition the seat between three different modes of use. This seat can be used as a harness booster, high back booster and a no back booster. Sporty style elements appeal to children, as will the integrated cup holders. The seat accommodates children ranging from 22 to 110 lbs. This combination booster provides an exceptional value for a seat with such a wide support range combined with an array of innovative features. Visit Evenflo.com for more information.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Evenflo®. As always, all opinions and text are all mine.