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10 Tips for Surviving a Road Trip with Toddlers

surviving a road trip with toddlers

Looking for tips for a road trip with your toddler?  We’ve made our fair share of road trips over the last five years, and we’ve learned a lot. We’ve figured out a few things that make a long drive a little easier with young kids, and we’re ready to share them with you.

Now, let me preface this by saying, in case you didn’t already know, that toddlers are somewhat like wild animals. You really never know how they’re going to act. You can research and prepare as much as possible, but your little monkey angel will ultimately do what he wants.

We’ve had blissful car rides, but we’ve also endured our fair share of road trips with nothing but endless hours of crying/screaming. Our kids know how to balance it all out.  Haha! Nevertheless, a little preparation always helps. Seriously, our son cried for two hours straight on the way to Highlands, North Carolina last year!

Are you in the Nashville area? Make sure to check out some of our road trip ideas! We’ve got weekends away as well as day trips.

Keeping the kids happy and entertained is an entirely separate post for another time. For now, I’m talking about all the little things to help prepare.

So, without going on and on, let’s get to the tips.

Top Tips for Road Trips with Toddlers

1. Pack a Cooler

Pack and keep a small cooler within reach.  If our road trip with the kids is going to be more than two to three hours, we always try to pack a small collapsible cooler with milk or cold snack options, plus plenty of caffeine options and water for us.

2. Pack extra trash bags

Carsickness can strike at any time – usually the most inopportune in my experience.  We have learned to always be prepared with a few extra grocery bags we can quickly shove in a sick toddlers lap to catch any and everything we can.  (Double bagged and ready to go is key!).  Our daughter got carsick in Asheville, but luckily we had some extra bags to quickly catch the mess. These are also the the key to keeping trash at bay.

3. Get on the road early!

Drive through the night/early morning:  I don’t like sleep deprivation any more than the next exhausted mama out there, but I’ll forgo a few hours of sleep if it means my toddler sleeps while on the road.  We often get up early and leave by 4 or 5 am (sometimes even earlier) if we have a long roadtrip aread.  Earlier to leave means a quieter ride for mom and dad. 

4. Plan Your Stops

When making a road trip with toddlers, planning is key. We try to plan out a rough idea of where we will be during key times of the day.  This helps to plan stops around meals and have options. Bonus if you can find a park or some green space to run around during extra long road trips! You can easily use the “nearby” feature on google maps to find some options.

5. Think about your route timing

Make sure to consider any metro areas you will be driving through. Nobody wants to get stuck in rush hour traffic with cranky toddlers in the car. When we went to Barnsley Resort just a few hours away, we made sure to leave in enough time to avoid rush hour traffic in Chattanooga.

6. Ration Entertainment

Pack entertainment options, but don’t give them all at once. We love to pack small trinket type toys that are “new to them”. For some reason, toddlers love small, random toys. Same as I would when we’re flying, I’ll give them the toys intermittently over the course of the car ride, instead of all at once. That way, there’s always something new to play with.

7. Snacks, snacks, snacks

Snacks are your friend. Any parent already knows this, but it bears repeating. Maybe even pack special treats they wouldn’t otherwise get. I’m not above bribery when it comes to a road trip with a toddler.

8. Pack Strategically

Make sure to keep everything such as toys, snacks, and drinks within reach.  We also keep a stash of diapers and wipes ready to go in the back of the car, along with a small spot for diaper changes if space allows.  

9. Start them young

Our kids have been road warriors since they were young.  They’ve gotten somewhat used to longer car rides.  I truly feel like the sooner they can get used to it, the better.

10. Pack your patience

Something will go wrong, someone will not be happy. Try to keep calm and know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. (I say this coming from experience of NOT staying calm). Sometimes you just gotta ignore the screams and keep on driving knowing you’re almost there.

Was this helpful? Share with friends and save to Pinterest. We’re all in this together! What are your best tips for road trips for toddlers?

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