Planning your first road trip with a toddler in tow? We know where you’re at — unsure what to pack, unsure how to pack, and most certainly unsure how to avoid breakdowns (your toddler’s or your own) along the way. We’ve asked parents like you for their tried-and-true tips for road trips with toddlers.
1. “Bring a change of clothes (two if possible) and have wipes and diapers extremely accessible. We learned this the hard way with messy situations!” – Lillie Marshall, AroundtheWorldL.com and TeachingTraveling.com
2. “Travel at night — they sleep and you have peace and quiet to put many miles behind you without needing to stop or be distracted. Less traffic, too.” – Monika, MumontheBrink.com
3. “When my kids were toddlers, I would fill tote bags with their toys and books. I would hang the tote bags on the back of the front seats so I could reach in and hand them a toy or book without turning around. They loved the surprise of what would come out of the bag next.” – Karon Clark Warren, This Girl Travels
4. “For road trips with toddlers, our best tip is to print out a map with random landmarks along the way so they will know where they are in relation to the final destination. We put things like Six Flags, a lake, oil wells, dairy farm, cement factory, etc.” – Karilyn Owen, NoBackHome.com
5. “We always try to include snacks that don’t require utensils to eat. It keeps the garbage and mess to a minimal. Yogurt tubes can also be a great option for getting in some protein and dairy.” – Heather Lopez, ILoveFamilyTravel.com
7. “We like to travel with a pail that has a lid (empty gallon ice cream containers work great). Buckets hold body fluids and/or double as impromptu sand pails and seashell holders at the beach. You can store toilet paper and plastic bags (or whatever) inside them.” – Julie Furst Henning, RoadTripsforFamilies.com
8. “Look for free destinations for pit stops that also are good for meal breaks. For example, if you’re just grabbing a quick bite at a fast-food restaurant, instead of eating it there, find a nearby state or local park, take your food to go and have a “picnic.” You’ll get to see another area attraction, enjoy a meal in a nicer setting and let your kid get a bit of exercise.” – Patricia Lee Hall, FairfaxFamilyFun.com
10. “Invest in a portable DVD player or tablet that can be attached to the headrest of your seat. Kids love watching their favorite movies in the car and it helps the time (seem) to pass quicker. There are many affordable DVD players on the market & they’re truly worth the investment.” – Sandy Gram, MixedBlessingsBlog.com
11. “I keep a canvas bag in the car with basic cleaning supplies: a garbage bag, a few gallon-size Ziploc bags, a roll of paper towels and disinfecting wipes. I even had a small bottle of Dawn dish soap in there for a while! It makes it a little easier to clean up any messes while on the road.” – Leslie Maggit, Mom of 2
12. “Don’t give kids electronics the second you get in the car. We have them but we save them for long drives, traffic jams, and last resorts. I think it’s important to let kids learn to stare out the window, daydream, be bored and also to find ways to entertain themselves. Sometimes a parent needs to navigate or assist the driver, but otherwise, drives are boring for everyone!” – Eileen Gunn, FamiliesGo!