10 Tips for a Road trip with a Toddler
Traveling with a toddler isn’t always easier. Discover 10 tips and tricks to make your road trip with a toddler easy and stress-free.
Traveling with kids at any age always provides some challenges, especially for toddlers. You may even be wondering if the road trip is even worth all of the hassle that comes along with taking an adventure with them. Rest assured, while road trips with kids can be daunting, there are loads of road trip hacks and tricks to make the drive as smooth and simple as possible.
Whether you are traveling for a 3-month-old or a 4-year-old, a little effort can go a long way. Here are 10 tips and advice on what to bring, how to pack, and how to plan a road trip adventure with a toddler.
Drive at night
While driving at night may not always be feasible, it’s a great way to survive really long car rides with toddlers. Kids typically sleep through most of the night, eliminating fighting, noise, and bathroom breaks. There is a lot less traffic during the nighttime, making your timing even faster. If you are well rested and have at least 2 people who can alternate driving shifts, it’s really worth considering making road trip hauls with toddlers at night.
Bring lots of snacks
Bringing snacks along your journey is an essential part of any road trip- especially those involving toddlers. There's nothing worse than a grumpy and hungry toddler with nothing to snack on during a road trip. Packing snacks ahead of time will save you time, money, and a lot of aggravation and headaches. When possible, avoid snacks with a lot of sugar, as this will just add more energy to the already antsy toddlers.
Plan stops along the way
Try to plan a couple of short stops along the way and let the kids move. Sitting in a car for long periods of time, and nearly impossible for toddlers. Look for playgrounds, parks, and attractions along the way to allow kids time to stretch and run off some of the energy that's been bottled up. Anything that can break up the drive without using too much time can have huge effects on young children during road trips.
Play road and car games
Keeping toddlers entertained is one of the easiest ways to make road trips go by faster and smoother. Consider playing road games such as the license plate game or car games such as eye-spy. Toddlers and younger kids will enjoy entertainment involving everyone but will become bored after a while. In this case, keep workbooks, coloring books, or activity books handy for other personal entertainment options as well. [Also read: how to make a road trip fun]
Packing strategically can save you a lot of time and hassle during a road trip with children. Having a ‘go-to’ bag for travel times is a good idea to keep everything on hand and easy to access. Items such as baby wipes, chargers, bandages, a change of clothes, blankets, and other items a toddler may ask for at any moment should be included. Avoid keeping items like this in the trunk or packed away tight, as this will require more stops and aggravation during the journey.
Separate the kids
If you are traveling with more than 1 child, keep the kids separated as much as possible. One of the biggest struggles with kids during a road trip is that after a while, bickering and arguments start to begin. If your car is big enough, keep the kids as far apart as possible to keep the fighting at bay for as long as possible.
Listen to audiobooks
Often times when traveling long distances with toddlers, games, and workbooks just aren't enough. Consider downloading children's audiobooks and music for them to listen to while on the road. Music and stories can do wonders in the car, keep your kids entertained for hours, and even put them to sleep. While it requires some sacrifice from the parents, it really helps keep the peace in the vehicle during long hauls.
Pack a clean-up kit
When traveling with toddlers, it's inevitable that spills and messes will occur. Having a clean-up kit on hand will save a lot of time, money, and aggravation when incidents occur. Includes items such as baby wipes, napkins, hand sanitizer, or plastic bags, to easily clean up messes as soon as they happen.
Follow their lead
While letting go of the rules is never the answer, letting children lead the way in terms of entertainment and stops can go a long way in keeping them happy and in a stable mood. If they are fussy, make a quick stop instead of getting in those last 50 miles right away. Road tripping with a toddler means letting go of a strict agenda and going with the flow. Whatever is best at the time, do that.
Remember attitude is everything
The most crucial thing to always keep in mind when taking a road trip with toddlers, is that attitude is everything. If you are happy and in a good mood, chances are your toddlers will be more cooperative and cheerful. Showing that you are irritated or tired can increase the chances of your children acting the same way, and showing signs of heightened anger or stress. Keeping a sunny attitude will go a long way towards keeping the morale high during a road trip with toddlers.
We hope you have enjoyed our tips about traveling with toddlers while on a road trip! Be sure to refer back to this guide when packing and making your checklist for the next road trip adventure with your little one.
About the Author
Hi I'm Ali Sullivan. I have been traveling full time for the past 5 years and have been to over 30 countries on 4 different continents. During this time I worked overseas in multiple countries as well as online and transitioned fully to online work in 2020. Find me here on Instagram.