After mostly flying with babies and toddlers we finally caught the road trip bug. This bug led us to going on a road trip with a toddler to Disney, Fort Myers and Sanibel Island, and exploring the National Parks of Utah and Arizona. Whether you’re heading on an RV road trip or regular road trip here’s how to prepare for a road trip with a toddler.
Mentally Prepare for Your Road Trip with a Toddler To Be Longer Than What Google Maps Says
If you have a child under 1 they are probably still nursing or on formula which means they eat every 3-4 hours. You definitely can’t nurse while driving and I really don’t recommend giving a bottle while driving as if you are not sitting by them they could choke and you might not even notice or it could take you too long to safely pull over and get them out of the car seat. If you are early in potty training you will also have to make a lot of pit stops for bathroom breaks.
Time Your Departure Wisely for Your Road Trip with a Toddler
If you can, start your journey around nap time or bed time. This way your baby or toddler will be asleep for most if not all of your drive (very peaceful car ride).
Seating Arrangements are Important On Road Trips with Toddlers
If there are two adults taking the trip, have one sit in the back so you can easily assist the kids in anything you need. My friend and I drove to Tampa for a wedding (4hr drive) and we both sat in the front. I swear Jordyn asked for something every 30 seconds and it would have been so much easier if one of us was just sitting by her versus having to turn around, stretch and reach to get what she needed. When my husband and I drove to Orlando I learned my lesson and I sat in the back with both kids. I was able to easily entertain them and help them with whatever they needed, especially if Jordyn dropped something.
Have Lots of Entertainment Prepared for a Road Trip with a Toddler
Have all of your electronics charged and apps for the kids downloaded before getting on the road. Pack coloring books, flash cards, books, movies, small toys. Have their favorite music already downloaded on your phone for when you go through areas with poor reception of radio stations playing music your not interested in.
There Is No Such Thing As Enough Food on a Road Trip with a Toddler
Pack plenty of sandwiches, snacks, and water. You don’t want to waste time having to get off the highway constantly for these things. If you are breastfeeding you especially need a lot of water and snacks for yourself. Pack a small cooler with freezer packs and bring a gallon sized zip-loc bag so if they are no longer cold you can fill the bag with ice at a rest stop.
Get An Activity Tray for Your Road Trip with a Toddler
This will allow your child to color easily and keep all of their stuff contained. A good activity tray should include a cup holder, places to store books, crayons, and be a bit deep so everything doesn’t slide off when you make a turn. I’ve used the ZoomKIT, Snack & Play Travel Tray, and Kenley Kids Snack and Pack Travel Tray. I much prefer the Kenley Kids as the sturdiness and price point are the most appealing.
Make a Park Stop on Road Trips with a Toddler
Of course you are trying to get on and off the road as soon as possible but if you are on a long drive, expecting a young child to sit still for 8 hours is unrealistic. Instead of stopping to eat at restaurant, pack your lunch and stop at a park. Your little one can play for 30 minutes, wear off some of that energy and then hopefully be ready for a nap :-).
Be Prepared for Accidents on Road Trips with Toddlers
Unless you’re taking an RV road trip where you have a bathroom on call you’ll want to prepare for accidents. Be sure to have a change of clothes in the car with you, not just in the trunk. Have it separated in a plastic bag that way if they throw up, wet themselves, etc. it is very easy to pull over change them and store the soiled clothes without having to dig through your luggage to find something. Be sure to have a change of clothes for the adults as well and have hand sanitizer, wipes, paper towels, etc. handy.
You may be interested in reading: 7 Ways to Potty Train When Traveling
A Road Trip with a Toddler is the Perfect Learning Time
As one mama told me, this is a great time to have them learn. Go over their ABCs, numbers, colors, days of the week, etc.
Taking a road trip with a toddler is often a great way to plan an affordable family vacation. We’ve really enjoy our road trips and hope these tips make your road trip with a toddler seamless. Found this tips helpful? Please share this article!