Surviving our 1st Family Road Trip

Driving- the all American travel method and in today’s world an option to avoid inflated airline tickets, pat downs by TSA and 3 oz. toiletries. This past 4th of July, my family set out on a journey through 4 states, 16 hour round trip to Ohio to visit family.

So many questions and thoughts popped into my head prior to setting out on our maiden voyage. How do I ensure my toddler is occupied? As well as husband? Did I pack enough? Most likely over packed. Will she nap during the drive? How many stops will we have to make? How will potty training go?

Here are my some tips to ensure a smooth road trip with a toddler in tow:

  • Stop often for breaks and to stretch. For our 16 hour trek we were able to keep the stops to 2 per way. With a toddler in diapers this assisted in the limited number of stops.
  • Pack plenty of snacks- we tried for healthy snacks (Veggie Straws, Pretzels, granola bars, apples). Throw in a treat for bribery situations- fruit snacks or m&ms are my ammo.
  • Give them a new toy or an old favorite that has been tucked away- go ahead and wrap it and let them tear into it in the car
  • No shame in a portable DVD player- Our toddler doesn’t get much screen time normally but being confined to a car seat for 7+ hour drive having a movie on for her was amazing. FYI- Family Video had a section of FREE kids’ movies to rent.
  • Pack plenty of toys- I was able to have a tote next to her seat with options, she was even able to reach in and pick things out. This helped us focus on the drive.
  • Pack plenty of books and magazines. Our little one loves books and it was fun for her to flip through some of mom’s magazines. Also stop at the library prior to your trip to find some new books to keep your children occupied.


  • At the dollar store & Target’s dollar aisle you can find some treasures for cheap. This is what I found for our trip:
    • Cookie sheet and use magnetic numbers/letters set
    • Stickers sheets
    • Coloring books
    • Gel Window clings
    • Glow sticks- great for nighttime drives
    • Pipe cleaners- make bracelets, necklaces or just to string fruit loops or cheerios to keep busy
    • Mini plastic containers to store homemade playdoh
  • Pack a diaper bag full of quick go to items
    • Diapers & wipes
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Ziplock/garage bags
    • Travel potty seat- This is ideal for our family with a very curious girl that wants to go on the potty frequently.

 Thank goodness for naptime! road trip 1

What are items do you pack for a road trip? Any fun ways to keep your kids busy? Do share!

Madison Family
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