Long Road Trips with Toddlers

Tips for Road Trips with Toddlers

Sooooo…we just got back from vacation.

It was awesome!


We had SO many people question us about taking Ryder on a long car ride, but I couldn’t go on vacation without him and this Momma needed a vacation!

Sometimes people’s opinions are not the most uplifting, but Michael and I decided that we were going to go into this as prepared as we could be and roll with it…we weren’t going to let the naysayers scare us or get us down!

I couldn’t believe how well Ryder did on the drive from Indiana to Tennessee and Tennessee to Florida and back!

Yes, I said drive!

We had a total of 31 hours of traveling round trip and it was actually pleasant!

We are definitely not perfect parents and Ryder is not the perfect baby…trust me.

But I thought I’d share a few ways we survived traveling with a one year old!


Puffs! Don’t forget the puffs! Or cheerios or crunchies or whatever it is that your little one loves to munch on and can calm them down in almost any situation. I call them Ryder’s cat treats. You shake them and he comes running just like a cat…well, he doesn’t run in the car, but he does get really excited and happy!

Vacation 1


Remember your DVD player and Baby Einstein Videos. Honestly, Ryder is not a TV baby. He couldn’t care less when we are at home and the TV is on, so we didn’t know if it would be helpful to bring this or not. But those people at Baby Einstein know what they are doing! Ryder was captivated by the Baby’s First Signs DVD (thank you Aunt Cris!), and Mommy learned quite a few signs. 🙂

Vacation 2

Back Seat Driver

Sit in the back seat. Obviously, we just have one child. This may be different if you have an older sibling to keep your little one entertained, but with Ryder being an only child and rear facing, he got very lonely if I wasn’t back there. So me sitting in the back seat was perfect! He loved the one on one, face to face time with Mommy. I was right there when he needed something, which saved us a ton of time since we didn’t have to pull over to tend to whatever he needed.

Vacation 3

Favorite Toys

Speaking of needing something…bring a bag of their favorite toys or new toys that you are pretty sure they will love. Variety is key.  We had toys of every shape and kind and a variety of old favorites and new ones from his birthday party that he really hadn’t even played with yet. When he was finished with one, we moved on to the next again and again until the cycle started all over again.

Vacation 4

Meal Time

Another need is eating…if your little one is still taking a bottle have them ready. If you are using formula or pumped milk, it doesn’t matter. Have your bottles for the day set up. If it is formula, have the powder in the bottles and a bottle of water ready to add to the powder, shake and hand over before meltdown mode. (My little guy doesn’t have much patience when he is hungry.) For what little milk I am still able to pump, we had a cooler and had those bottles ready as well to swirl and hand straight on over to the little man. I also had baby food ready with a baby spoon handy. The carseat makes one awesome highchair! He didn’t wiggle at all while I fed him. 🙂 By having all this ready, we were again able to keep on moving toward our end destination without pulling over countless times.

Vacation 5

Soothing Grooves

Bring their comfort sounds. I have heard of some kids who have a white noise CD or children’s CD that they always fall asleep to. For Ryder, it is the self titled Jars of Clay CD from 1995 baby! I knew that whatever I started with would be what I would have to listen to countless times, so I picked something that I liked! The music is soothing for Ryder and nostalgic for me, so it works on many levels. He listens to it every night as we go through his bedtime routine and I put him to sleep. So when we were on the road and he was obviously tired, but fighting it, we would turn on his CD. He would grab my hand, put it to his face, lean into it and conk out. Easy nap time on the road!

Vacation last

Take a Break

Let them stretch their legs. Ryder doesn’t walk on his own yet, but he still enjoyed a good stretch every few hours. Think about it…imagine being strapped in like they are for hours on end. Adults can shift in their seats and re-position our legs, booties, etc, but they can’t move at all…or at least, they shouldn’t be able to. So every few hours we would do a 15-20 minute stop. He would get a diaper change, a little time of walking around, some cuddle time and lots of lovin’ from Mommy and Daddy. Then he was a happy camper ready to go for another leg of the trip. If he was sleeping, we would push on until he woke up or if he decided to drop a solid stink bomb, we would stop sooner. (We didn’t want to leave him sitting in it or have to smell it ourselves! Sheesh that kid can stink up a car!) It was a flexible schedule and really helped us make the trip in good time and in good spirits!

So as everyone is heading into the vacation season and wondering how in the world they are going to make it on that long car ride with their toddler, hopefully one or more of these tips will fit your family and help make those hours in the car more fun for everyone!

Tips for Road Trips with Toddlers

Do you have any tips for traveling with little ones?

About Aunt Lou
I'm the wife of Michael and momma of a toddler just walking through this life step by step focusing on enjoying the little things in life. I am in awe of the many blessings big and small I receive daily from a pretty amazing God who calls me His own. Sometimes life is crazy and messy, but I am loving every minute of it. Welcome to my chaos.

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  • Kate

    Thanks for writing this… it was so nice to hear a POSITIVE road trip experience instead of tons of warnings! Hope ours goes as well!

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