Before we were even pregnant we swore that we would not let having children change our lives, meaning we wouldn’t stop doing things we love, we would just do them with our kids. We kinda love road trips. I guess that is why we thought it would be OK to be in the car with our almost 16 month old for well over 40 hours across the span of 2 weeks. And ya know what? It WAS OK! No major crying fits. No tantrums. We did it!
Just a little background, we were not in the car for a solid 40+ hours. We took an 8 hour each way round trip to visit family and friends. Were back home for one night, then drove 11.5 hours to visit friends, another hour to do sight seeing with friends, 4 more hours to stay with family, another 4 hours to see more family, and finally 9 hours home. Total time spent in the car 45.5 hours. This doesn’t count the time spent in the car while at each destination.
Here are our tips for traveling road trip style with a small toddler:
- Travel while they sleep. Whether it is at night or during nap time you can cover some serious ground while your little one is asleep. Make sure you bring what you need to help yourself stay alert.
- Stop as often as needed. Stop to switch drivers. Stop to eat. Stop to change diapers. Stop to get out and play. You will need to stop more often with kids, but it’s also good for you to stop too. We planned stops where we knew they had a place to play, sometimes this was a friend’s house, or a cloth diaper warehouse. Make it fun.
- Pack food. We are big snackers in the car. We packed up a reusable shopping bag filled with random snacks for ourselves. I also packed up a few of these awesome bento boxes called a Yumbox with snacks for the toddler. They are perfect for traveling. When we stopped for fast food it also meant that he could still eat healthier.
- Be flexible. Something will not go as planned. You will be later than expected for a stop. The baby will poop right after you get back on the road. Just like with anything else, when you have a toddler, you have to be flexible.
- Have a bag of car toys. This saved our trip. I kept a little tote filled with his favorite books, little trucks, teethers, stuff he hadn’t seen in a while and kept it in the passenger seat. When he was awake we would hand him something from the bag. When he was done with it we would usually hear “uh oh”, and then hand him the next thing from the bag. It never got old.
- Have an amazing kid. Some of being able to survive this long in the car is that our kid is pretty laid back. I like to think that we’ve helped make him that way.