Road Trip Travel with Toddler

Road Trip Tips

This summer we combined my husband’s business trip with a family trip for a long, two week vacation from our house in South Carolina to our family home in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  Along the way we stopped at my parents and other family homes to break up the trip and see relatives whom we don’t get to see often.  The time on the road was long (18 hours each way), and we tried to plan to make manageable increments. I found Pinterest helpful, so here are my suggestions and purchases for travel (This blog post has great ideas and lots of links!)

 Gear: Having easy, usable gear is so helpful on a road trip.  You never know when you’ll have to spend the night in a hotel or need to make a stop.

We purchased this from Amazon ($59) for our toddler who’s transitioning to a toddler bed. He is too big for his pack n’ play, so, based on reviews, this one seemed to fit our needs best.  It worked well for us in hotels and family homes; it comes with an attachment to blow up and a fitted sheet.  Very comfortable and pretty big (mom can lay on it!) Packed pretty small – I’m glad we had it!

AeroBed sleep tight inflatable beds for kids

These sun shades are wonderful! We purchased them a long time ago for our back windows and they’ve held up wonderfully. $8 for two and they work much better than the suction cup ones – a must have, for us!

Britax 2 Pack EZ-Cling Sun Shades, Black

A good umbrella stroller – everyone has a variety of opinions on strollers. This was a purchase we made for a trip about a year ago.  It’s $79 on Amazon now (we caught it on a sale – about 20% less), but it’s a stroller I highly, highly recommend for parents.  It’s very lightweight and even manageable one handed (for those in airports).  There is enough of a basket for snacks, keys, or small essentials.  Easy to use, easy to pack – it was very nice to have this on our long trip.

Chicco Capri Lightweight Stroller, Tangerine

Toys: Certainly, I wasn’t going to spend a lot of money for toys when we have plenty of toys at home, but I do think the idea of “new” things helps buy time and attention when traveling.

Magnet Set (Construction) – Easy to keep together – especially in the car.  This was about $7 and an easy activity for the car.

Create-a-Scene Magnetic Playset: Construction Site

Don’t know why we didn’t have a Magna Doodle anyway because our toddler loves to draw, but – it worked really well as a “new” toy on the trip.  Great in the car and I know we’ll use it much more.

Classic Doodler With 2 Stampers, Classic Blue

Get to the Dollar Store!: One of the best tips I saw on Pinterest was to wrap up dollar store toys and pull them out each hour (or whenever your child was getting bored).  I probably spent less than $20 (including tissue paper to wrap them up) on little dollar things, and it worked really well. 

  • Monsters Inc. “phone” and “keys”
  • Stickers
  •  Trains, Cars, Dolls
  • Flash Cards

Books – We brought lots and lots of books – some from home and some from the library.  They did take up space, but we always have books in the car, so we knew reading would be an activity.

Snacks – Just bring snacks – fruit snacks, Goldfish, pretzels, squeeze packs, juice boxes – and even candy they may not get normally – like Smarties. 

Wiggle Breaks: Playgrounds, Fast Food Restaurants, Libraries – Toddlers need to wiggle and we knew our trip would actually be longer because we would stop for “wiggle” breaks. Look for playgrounds, and, if it’s raining – check out the local public library or even a mall.

Movies: We do have a tablet, so we did have some game apps and movies downloaded (Per my husband’s job, we switched from an Ipad to Android tablet – not as much of a fan of the Android for apps/ease of use).

With all of the above, of course we still had meltdowns and trips into Walmart off the interstate, but I hope these tips help with planning your next road trip.  Let me know your best tips for traveling!