Family road trips are some of our most fun and memorable adventures. Road trips with a toddler can also lead to some of the most stressful adventures. Well not anymore! With the help of some family travel experts, Mommy And Me Travels has gathered the top 12 tips for traveling with toddlers by car to help make the ride more enjoyable for all. You can use these tips for taking day trips, overnight trips, or even heading out on an extended family adventure.
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These tips assume that you have already covered the essential packing items that you need for your toddler. Some of those essential travel items that you should keep within reach of you for your trip are diapers, wipes, their binky (pacifier), and a change of clothes for your toddler.
Update: 4 June 2020
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For Those Long Road Trips With Toddlers
1. TRY TO HAVE A CO-PILOT! – It’s less stressful if you have a co-pilot to help navigate, read road signs, and manage the phone, snacks, and music selection when you are on trips with toddlers. Having a co-pilot also allows you to switch off driving and sitting in the back of the car with your little one. While on a road trip with a toddler sometimes they just want to hold your hand and be part of the action and having a partner on the trip allows to avoid some of the fussiness. – Captivating Compass
2. DRIVE WITH SLEEPING KIDS! – We love to leave super early in the morning if we know we have a long haul drive ahead of us. If we can leave at 3am, then we get the first half of the drive under our belts before the kids even wake from their slumbers!!! If you are more of a night owl, then consider driving overnight so that the car trip with your toddler is while they are sleeping all night. – Gadsventure
3. BRING THE COMFY STUFF! – Bring comfy stuff like pillows, blankets, their lovey (stuffed animal)! You definitely don’t want to be on a long road trip with a toddler without their favorite stuffed animal. As a bonus, toddlers (and adults) like to snuggle and take naps on long car rides and these items sure do help. –Disabled Disney
Road Trip Food Ideas For Car Trips With Toddlers
4. BRING WATER! – Only bring water, do not bring flavored drinks. If you do, your toddler will chug them and you will be stopping to use the restroom (or change a diaper) every 30 minutes. We love our spill proof insulated cups to keep water cold. – Tips From a Typical Mom
5. GET YOUR SNACK ON! – You can never go wrong with extra snacks. When you can’t find a restaurant or you’re stuck in traffic it will be snacks to your rescue every time. We skip anything sugary or messy and always have wet wipes and a towel within reach. Use bento containers to keep snacks separated but full of healthy choices. – Full Time Field Trip
6. PLAN A PICNIC! – Picnics are a wonderful way to experience the outdoors with toddlers. Even busy motorways can have attractive rest areas or amazing small town parks. Plan ahead, bring a cooling picnic bag, and enjoy some memorable lunches. Bonus, for your long car ride with toddlers, is this stop will allow for your little one to burn off some pent up energy too. – World For A Girl
Travel Activities For Toddlers
7. SEMI-TRUCK HORN HONKING! – Our favorite travel activities for toddlers is a game where he is trying to get the semi-trucks to honk their horns. You play this game by moving your arm up and down as if you were pulling the string for their horn. He gets a big kick out of it and also is focused on finding “another big truck”. – Mommy And Me Travels
8. I SPY! – On the list next for road trip games for toddlers is I SPY. This game is easy to play and will keep your toddler entertained for as long as you are willing to play. Start by saying “I spy with my little eye something (insert color)”. I always try to pick something easier for them to guess like the color of their shoes. Then when they guess their shoes, praise them, and tell them it is their turn. Friendly tip… don’t get frustrated with them when they say something red as you are passing a stop sign. They saw it at that time but you won’t now. Just remember stop signs are read and guess it. They are toddlers after all. – Mommy And Me Travels
9. PACK THE TOYS! – You will probably need to pack at least 3 or 4 toddler road trip toys. Toddlers will get tired of sitting in the car and bored with the things you brought. Rotate the toys between different games (a few ideas above). A few of our favorite toddler road trip toys are the Baby Shark Mess Free Coloring Set, Hide & Seek Alphabet Pop-Up Board, a few Toy Cars, and (of course) an electronic like the Fire Kids Edition Tablet. We also use our Kids Travel Toddler Car Seat Lap Tray. The tray is a must for traveling any distance and trying to keep a toddler entertained. – Mommy And Me Travels
Frequent Breaks During Your Road Trips With Toddlers
10. HAVE A LOOSE AGENDA! – We love a very loose agenda when road tripping with toddlers – with time and freedom to stop in an interesting looking shop or café, or run across a field. We often take breaks in small towns to get coffee and snacks, interact with locals, and learn about their town culture and history. – World Wise Kid
11. TAKE STRETCH BREAKS! – Make sure you stop every two or three hours and let the kids out. When you stop for gas or a bathroom break, let the kids run around for a few minutes. It might make the trip longer, but it will be better for everyone to get out and stretch their legs. – State by State
12. HAVE AN ADVENTURE! – Make the journey and its stops part of the adventure. There might not be much between St Louis and Indianapolis, for example, but spending half a day to walk around the world’s largest attractions in Casey would be a really memorable adventure for the whole family! – Dandelion Seeds Positive Parenting
Final Thoughts On Road Trip With Toddler – 12 Tips For Traveling With Toddlers In Car
These tips of road trips with toddlers from well-seasoned travel mommies, will have you armed and ready for your next road trip family adventure. You can also use these great ideas for your kids that are a little older. Do you have other ideas to share? Have you tried any of these and had them work? Let us know below in the comments and we can help each other out for our trips while traveling with a toddler in cars.
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The ABC game in the car is classic. I have a couple of other games and songs to do. I tried to find small puzzles for my daughter. But my daughter loved the audiobooks we had on the trip the most. Having a partner on the road trip definitely helps as well.
Ahhhh road trips with toddlers!!! I remember those days! If you plan usually they go pretty smooth!!!
I’ve never taken a road trip with a toddler but I’d like to this is very helpful
We did a few roadtrips when my kids were toddlers, and it always went better than I expected. We did a lot of stories from Audible or from the library on CD, which seemed to really help with the car portion. We also printed out activity sheets and coloring sheets and used clipboards for something to do. I love your ideas here – -so many great tips for a smooth and fun drive!
Indeed it was stressful to travel with toddlers. But with more experiences and learning, it becoming more better and better. My most two things I don’t like to do is eating a lot while still on the road and drinking a lot.
Oh yes! I really love road trips. It gives me relaxing and those tips you’ve shared are very helpful. Thanks!
These are great tips for parents travelling with their toddlers. I don’t have kids on my own yet but I am sure these tips will come in handy for me one day because I love travelling.
This is so helpful! We have 3 trips this summer that will be 8-10 hours each way and we have a little 3 year old boy to deal with!!
I’d love to hear how these tips work out for you. I hope your trips are enjoyable.
Many of these are my standards for traveling with the littlest of travelers. The one I’d add is to make sure you have access to several spare outfits so you can swap as needed. My girls were notorious for getting carsick all over themselves, having a massive diaper blowout (or two or three) on the day-long drive to see the grandparents, etc. while in the car. That is NOT something you want to smell for the next 4-6 hours, or your hosts want to see/smell on their sweet grandbaby when you reach your destination!!!
Great tip to add! Thank you for sharing.
We road trip a few times per year with my young kids. Snacks are a big hit for my youngest, but my oldest can’t have any or he gets motion sickness. We play the alphabet game by finding a word on a sign that starts with each letter in order.
My Children are older teens now, but this list would of been wonderful when we took them to Disney years ago. I love the idea of games to play. My husband is a truck driver and he loves to see little kids get excited when he beeps the horn or they just are so happy to see a big truck.
These are really handy tips… thankfully our daughter is older now as we used to really struggle with her on long car journeys!
I love the picnic idea – it gives you a destination in between destinations so the kids can look forward to getting out of the car, stretching their legs and exploring a new place while chowing down!
road trips with little ones can be great fun but also pretty tough. Great tips to help it go smoothly!
Awesome! Thank you for the tip. I definitely, love this since I have one 🙂