Tips on Road Tripping With a Toddler


As spring break and summer is thankfully getting closer (wahoo!!) some of you may be starting to think about family vacations.  We are heading to Florida in a couple of weeks and for multiple reasons we are driving there which can be daunting to think about it.  But just last year we had done a much longer trip when we moved from San Francisco to Madison and I thought I’d share what we learned and tips I’d recommend for your next road trip.

Tips Traveling with a Toddler

IPad.  If you don’t have a fancy vehicle with the built-in dvd player I highly recommend using some sort of device that plays movies.  We have limits on how much Nola can watch TV, but when we are road tripping we are much more lenient.  To be honest, when we were driving long stretches this is what really saved us.  Along with movies, Nola currently loves these kid apps:  Daniel Tiger (especially bath time), Peekaboo Barn and Toca Band.

A new toy a day while in the car driving.  I know this may seem excessive to others, but this was something fun for us to do and it gave Nola something new to play with in the car as well.  Each day we stopped at a Target or Walmart and together decided what toy she would get.  You could also opt for small toys from the dollar store and/or could get toys ahead of time so you don’t have to tempt them with the toy aisle (I totally get that, but we used this also as a pit stop to stretch our legs).

Snacks.  We had a TON of snacks (annie’s organic snack packs are great) and it was another lifesaver because our little girl likes snacking and it was once again something else to occupy her.  We also made sure to have fresh fruit and water in the car at all times.

Basket full of her favorite toys.  Keep this basket in arms reach!  I also ordered some new crayons, stickers and coloring books.

Tray for carseat.  This tray allows your kid to color, look at books and play with toys so much easier.

Stopping for meals and finding a park to eat at.  This advice, in my opinion, is one of my most valuable insights I can give you.  Being stuck in the car for most of the day the last thing we wanted to do was make Nola sit in a restaurant, nor did we think she would behave, I wouldn’t behave it would be my revenge on my parents being in the car for so long 🙂  So we had our trusty picnic blanket in the car and after picking up some food we set up a picnic for all of our lunches and dinners.  Afterwards we played on the playground and packed in as much fun as we could and burn up as much energy as we could.  This won’t work if you are traveling in the winter, but instead I’d recommend stopping at a children’s museum or mall.  During the end of the summer where the weather is nice and it doesn’t get dark too early this works great!

Sitting next to them in the backseat.  I like hanging with my guy in the front seat and don’t plan on it ever being a regular thing to have one of us sitting next to our children, but this advice is during desperate measures.  One evening when we pushed it 5 plus hours in one stretch we both knew Nola wasn’t going to be happy, so when we could tell she had enough CJ sat next to her and the face to face time playing and singing with her made a huge difference.

Be open minded and flexible if you can.  Give yourself extra days traveling if you have the luxury in case your kiddo isn’t having it one day.

Attitude is the name of the game!!  Such a game changer on your whole experience and can make any situation sooo much better.

These are things that worked for us and hopefully they can help you too!  Here’s to happy road tripping this year!

Melissa is a mom of a 2 year old and expecting her second child any day now! She's a foodie, loves spending time with her family and friends, enjoys reading a good book, designing, crafting and taking as many family adventures as possible. Fitting that in of course is a juggling act between being a busy stay at home mom, but she wouldn't want it any other way. Before having kids she studied and worked in architecture. She and her husband have lived in Chicago, Norfolk, Va, San Francisco and just recently moved back to Madison. You can also read about her adventures on her personal blog


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