Thursday, August 7, 2014

Road Trip Necessities With A Toddler

We all know that spending a significant amount of time in a car with a toddler can be, well, torturous to put it mildly. But there are things you can do to help the trip go smoothly and even make it fun!
Here are a few past posts I've written on the topic of traveling with a toddler:

Today we are going to talk about what to bring along in the car with you for that road trip! Here are my top 10 must-haves when I head out on a road trip with my one and a half year old.

1. Snacks
Doesn't everyone love a good road trip snack? If we are going on a longer car ride with our sweet pea in the car, I make sure to pack a snack cup (Munchkin Two Snack Catchers) full of cheerios or another healthy cereal, fruit snacks of some sort, sliced cucumbers and apples, raisins, peanut butter crackers, granola bars, and apple sauce squeeze pouches. 

2. Tunes
My daughter loves to dance, and that car seat buckle doesn't hold her back if I turn on some fun toddler music! Her favorite songs are, Going to the ZooWheels on the Bus, and My God Is So Big.
If you are going to be driving long enough for your toddler to need a nap, make sure you bring some lullaby music or something they can fall asleep to as well such as Faith Hope & Lullabies: Sing Me to Sleep album. That album is our absolute favorite!

 3. Coloring Supplies
I know what you're thinking. This sounds dangerous. I am fully aware of what happens when a toddler has a crayon or gets everywhere, or gets eaten. Neither are fun to deal with on a road trip, but there are ways to get around that with coloring! The last 12 hour drive I took sweet pea on, my sister-in-law loaned me her daughter's Melissa & Doug Water Wow Coloring Book - Animals and it was a life saver! It's a coloring book that you use a brush filled with a little water to color on. The water makes the color appear on the pages and when it dries, it goes back to white. That's hours of fun right there...or at least 15 minutes!

4. Books
This one is my favorite, and works whether your toddler is still in their baby car seat, or forward facing! . Lately I have been taking her to the library to pick out a few new books every month. Visit the library before a road trip and pick out a few fun books to take along as well as some fun music CD's and movies! Here is a photo I snapped of sweet pea in her rear-facing seat reading her Curious George book from the library. She was "reading" aloud and following along the text with her finger. It was adorable to watch!

5. Toys
On our 12 hour drive, I packed a little canvas storage box full of sweet pea's favorite toys. I included a doll, her LeapFrog Letter FactoryLeapFrog My Pal Violet (this isn't a LeapFrog endorsed post, I promise!), bubbles, plastic animals, pipe cleaners, sticker activity book (Melissa & Doug Habitats Reusable Sticker Pad), and a few other little toys she could play with. Most of them ended up strewn all over the car at the end of the trip, but I know she had fun with them!

6. Blankets and Pacifiers
Every mom knows that one pacifier just won't cut it when you are on a long car ride. That one pacifier is sure to get tossed across the car and wedged in the darkest, smallest crevasse somewhere where you won't find it for months. You won't regret packing a second pacifier just in case! I also bring a spare blanket just in case the first one becomes an apple juice splash pad. You never know!

7. Accessories
This is probably a girl thing, but my daughter loves to play with sunglasses, bracelets, scarves, headbands and anything she can dress up with. Bring a long a little bag of bracelets, sunglasses and other little items she can play around with to keep her entertained for a bit!

8. Forward and rear-facing car seat
I know this sounds crazy, but taking both the rear-facing and forward facing car seat was a life save on our Georgia vacation! If your toddler is small enough to still fit in their rear facing car seat (like mine is), then bring both car seats. That way, they can take their naps laying down, and play and be entertained facing forward when they are awake. It's a nice way to add variety to the trip as well.

9. DVD player
I almost left this one off the list because it can so easily become the only thing a toddler wants to do in the car, and I hate that! There's something to be said about being in the car, listening to music, reading books, or just looking out the window. I don't want my daughter to think that every time she gets in the car, she is going to be entertained by a movie or show. I think it's healthy for her to learn to entertain herself, even in the car. That being said, I think movies have their place! On a long car ride, watching a show can provide nice long stretches of entertainment when your child is bored. On our last road trip, I let her watch a show on the portable DVD player when she started to get sleepy and fussy. It relaxed her and helped her fall asleep!

10. Patience
Don't leave this at home because you will surely need it on a road trip with a toddler! I speak from experience when I say there will most likely be moments of frustrated screaming because they can't reach their book, cries of annoyance from being stuck in a car seat, and there may even be moments where apple sauce is flying across the car. No joke. Just take a deep breath and be patient! Car rides can be exhausting and frustrating for a toddler, but just take a deep breath, regroup and hang in there. Don't make it worse by getting frustrated yourself and loosing your cool. When your toddler sees how calm you are, hopefully they will relax as well! Remember, the drive won't last forever and when you get where you're going, it will be worth it all!

  Hopefully you can find these tips helpful for your summer travels.  Make sure to check out the other mama's blogs for even more tips!  And be sure to link up with us below if you also have a post on this.
July 10:  Keeping your marriage alive with a toddler
July 17:  Favorite summer toddler activities
July 24:  Helping Your Toddler to Communicate (Words, emotions, etc.)
July 31:  Dealing with Separation Anxiety
Aug 7:    Car Trip Necessities
Aug 14:  Deciding when the time is right for baby #2 (and/or how to handle these questions)
Aug 21:  Tricks for eating out with your toddler
Aug 28:  Feeling confident as a mom (How to feel this way, Your struggle with, etc.)
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Colossians 3:17 
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


  1. Wow, I never thought to bring both car seats! I actually said in my list how my son doesn't sleep as well since our new car seat is so much more upright than our infant one! So smart!

  2. So many helpful tips. I took a beach trip this June with my cousin and her 5 mth old and 2 yr old boys. You definitely needed to keep them occupied and make sure they had everything they needed. The little one slept on the way there so that was a good thing. You definitely need patience. Isn't it cute to see her reading like that. Precious.

  3. Love this girl!!! Evie loves music in the car :)

  4. Bringing accessories is so funny. Our daughter loves playing with purses, sunglasses, "bracelets" (hair ties :), etc in the car too. Great list! -Jess


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