My Life of Travels and Adventures: Car Travel - Tips for Toddlers: One Year Old to 18 Months Old

Car Travel - Tips for Toddlers: One Year Old to 18 Months Old

07 August 2013

I feel as though we are experts on this now.  In the first 5 months of this year, we  traveled with Reid (and 2 dogs) by car to WNY and back to Philly 16 times.  16 times in 21 weekends.  700 miles each weekend.  12 hours each weekend.   192 Hours in 5 Months.  11,200 miles in 5 months.  Yeah, experts.   

Considering we did this last year with a newborn and all throughout the year a couple times a month… One may consider us crazy.  (I thought about writing a post about traveling with a newborn last year… But it would have consisted of… Feed baby, Change Diaper, Place in Carseat, Drive… Stop, Rinse, Repeat…. Boring).  

Now that we are traveling with a toddler… This is a whole different story.  

Here is what we do:

1.  Stuff ‘em full - Well not really.  We normally feed Reid a yogurt after work and before dinner each night to hold him over.  On travel nights, we offer yogurt at home and a snack in the car.  Usually, waffles or muffins.  These Snack Cups work great for the car

2. Dress Appropriately - I know sitting in the car for 6 hours can get uncomfortable really fast for me.  I always try to wear something comfortable to make it a little easier.  Well, I do the same for Reid.  He travels in style, sockless in pajama’s.  What can I say, the kid hates having socks on… so why torture him?  And pajama’s… who doesn’t want to curl up in their pj’s immediately after a long day.

3. Offer Distractions - There are toys that have become our “car toys” over the past few months.  A light up Musical Piano,  a Fun Pad, a couple books, etc… New toys that he does not play with all the time.  Special toys that hold his attention with music or lights.

4. Bring Lovies - Reid sleeps with a Taggies Blanket (or 3).  He is not attached to one particular blanket, but it must be soft.  We have a blanket that stays in the car all the time, but we bring one (or 3) of his other blankets for the ride.  
5. Leave Later - We wait an hour or so before leaving... Enough time for most people to make it home on a Friday evening… meaning no traffic for us.  It works out that we leave about 1.5-2 hours before Reid’s bedtime.  He usually is awake for the first hour of the trip then conks out. 

6.  Schedule Stops - We lucked out so far on this one.  We usually stop once per trip.  A little under half way.  As soon as we stop, Reid comes out of his car seat.  We talk, eat dinner, fill up with gas, take a potty break, whatever is needed (usually all of the above). 

7.  Easy Dinner - I love, love, love these Food Pouches (and so does Reid).  I stocked up when I bought a groupon for BRU and bring them everywhere with me (just in case).  
For the most part, Reid will suck down a food pouch and some of my dinner when we are stopped.  I also bring a cooler with a milk bottle and a Little Green Pouch of yogurt for Reid… just in case. 
8.  Pack Smart - Each week, I pack the same items in the same spot in our bags.  Reid get his own duffle bag for clothing and the diaper bag carries diaper/wipes and his snacks/dinner.  We have a small cooler with yogurt and milk for him.  Each week, Reid packs the car in (mostly) the same manner.  The diaper back is always within reach and the cooler is even closer. 
9.  Bring Extras - I swear binkies in my car are like socks in the washer.  Yes, we keep on attached to his carseat, but now he can detach the whole string or just the binkie from the string, so that is no guarantee.  So, the last thing I grab before leaving the house is a handful of binkies (and Reid).  You know, just in case.  (I always use at least one)

10.  Be Prepared:  I use a nighttime diaper and diaper cream for the trip.  I stock the diaper bag with tylenol, motrin (for baby and Momma), a thermometer and snacks.  Lots of different snacks. We have extra diapers, wipes and toys in the car. 
11.  Be Flexible - This is the most important.  Yes, we want to get there as soon as possible but I don’t want to hear a screaming kid for hours.  If he needs to get out of the car seat again, then we stop as soon as we safely can.  
We really lucked out with a kid who travels well (Guess that evens out his night time sleeping!)

Did I miss anything? How do you prepare and what do you always bring when you travel?

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  1. Considering my daughter will be 1 in 3 months... Sigh... I should probably be doing my research! Thanks for this girl! =D

  2. these are great tips! we haven't done much long car trips with our 2 yr old, but keeping this bookmarked when we venture off soon :)

  3. Perfect tips Krystal! Rey and I are flying solo at the end of the month cross country. Help me now!

    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo

  4. That is A LOT of travel!! Lol Very good tips!! :o)

  5. We made the mistake of trying to take the Northeast Extension on our way to Rochester at 4:30 on a Friday once...needless to say our drive had about two extra hours due to traffic! Something I definitely don't miss about Philly :-)

    We also took our then 15 month old on a 17 hour drive to the tip of Florida about a year and a half ago. Never again. Not enough snacks and entertainment in the world!

  6. We just got back from a 200 mi trip (one-way) to ME and your tips are SPOT ON! Entertainment is always hard and worse now that LO is forward facing. LO LOVES his taggie and food pouches. They are a godsend! Esp when traveling. BRU has a lot of great sales on them.

  7. This is a great post. I'm a little nervous to take our road trip to disneyland in December since he's never been on a 6 hours drive before.

  8. Good tips. We've done our fair share of car trips but can't compete with all yours this year! An ipad attached to the headrest has been our LIFESAVER. Really. PFB doesn't sleep great in the car (except when we don't want her to because we're trying to get home for a nap...) so movies (and snacks) have been our best friend.


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