15 Insanely Helpful Tips for Road Tripping with Toddlers

As the world slowly opens back up after the disaster that was 2020 (and now 2021) our little family has a terrible case of the travel bug. Being cooped up for almost two years with two under two tends to do that to you, especially when you had a baby at the beginning of a worldwide pandemic and most of your family has yet to meet that little munchkin!

Here are a few things you should know about me, I am not originally from Cincinnati. Actually, I was born on Long Island (NY) and half of my family still lives there (dad’s side). The other half, kind of lives all over the place. My immediate family, the rents and seven younger siblings , live in South Carolina, (20 minutes outside of Charlotte) and the extended family of that side is everywhere.

If you’ve been around, especially on Instagram, you’ll know that we have spent the better half of the last year house hunting. You might also have seen that we are a big DIY household, and those projects aren’t always easy with the two littles running around. When we finally got under contract to buy our new house in May, there were a few little things that still needed finishing at our old house. The kids and I cleared out, leaving Ben to finish up these projects without little hands touching or little distractions needing his attention.

That’s right, I packed up with my two toddlers, jumped in the car, and drove 8 hours down to my Mom’s. Oh, and did I mention this was only four weeks after we potty trained Isaac?

I was a nervous wreck in the days leading up to the trip. The bags were packed and I had a semblance of a plan: I was going to be patient and it didn’t matter how long the drive took, we would stop whenever Isaac had to go potty.

Truly the new to the potty was my biggest worry. I can handle some frustration and crying about being locked in the car, looking at you Adelaide, but I knew that every stop meant longer in the car.

Patience, I reminded myself.

And no, I am nothing special. As moms we do what we need to do and, honestly, we typically crush it. Here is my reminder for you. You were made for this. You were made to be their mom.

You were made for this. You were made to be their mom.

And again, we do what we need to do and sometimes that means hopping in the car with two toddlers and driving 8 hours to visit your family.

Almost two weeks ago, we again hopped in the car and headed south 8 hours for my cousins wedding in North Carolina. This time it was our full family of four and I was ready for it with a few simple tricks that I recommend implementing in your car for the next road trip.


15 Tips for Traveling with Toddlers

  1. Download favorite shows on Netflix (I downloaded ALL of Cocomelon) on a tablet. We bought this nifty gadget from amazon so we can setup the tablet and both kiddos can see. Ben burned a few of our old DVDs as well and put those on an SD card so we could turn on a movie.
  2. Pack car friendly snacks-goldfish, cheerios, Cheez-Its, fruit snacks, etc.
  3. This is a tie-on, make sure snacks are easy for you to grab and hand out. I recommend bringing a snack cup for each kid, at this age little baggies aren’t the easiest for them to use. This one is my absolute favorite, it’s harder to open up than these ones which is helpful for the older toddler who like to know how things work. (Looking at you Isaac)
  4. Don’t worry about mess. The car is going to get messy, you can deal with it later. The mess is worth children that aren’t hangry and restless at the same time. You can get the whole car detailed for like $100 depending on where you live.
  5. Setup a diaper changing station in the trunk, IF YOU HAVE THE ROOM. I am lucky enough to have a minivan. When we take trips I keep the third row down. This way I am able to easily access the suitcase and I leave empty space so I can change Addie at quick stops if needed. Gas station restrooms tend to just be gross, and I don’t like to deal with it if I don’t need to. I ALWAYS have one of these packed and ready in my car, they are perfect for backseat changes or quick stops so you don’t have to carry the whole diaper bag.
  6. Keep a change of clothes for each kid on hand. I usually put a spare outfit in the diaper bag. Another great option is having the change of clothes ready in a seat back pocket. Make it easy to grab in case of accidents. If you’re prepared, you wont need them. If you’re not prepared, you’re going to need them.
  7. Bring books! I packed two of our favorite books (per kid) and this served a dual purpose. First, during the ride I was able to hand them each a book and they were quiet and focused for few minutes. Well, they read their books to me, but it was a great “new” activity on the drive. Second, we were able to read books before bed and keep that part of our nightly routine.
  8. Fill water bottles with ice and water, I love these ones from Contigo because they’re easy to open and easy to clean. While we are on that subject, bring extra bottles of water for refills if needed. NOTE: try and limit drinking, but don’t cut them off. Their little mouths get dry and uncomfortable.
  9. Pack an empty cup for each kid! Perfect for pouring kids meal drinks into from the drive thru. Also comes in handy while on “vacation” or visiting family. Especially if they don’t have little kids.
  10. Let them get out and stretch at each stop. Little kids legs get restless and the car ride is both going to store up energy and make them exhausted. Getting out of the car and using their legs helps beat restless legs and angry toddlers.
  11. Point out cars and trucks on the road. Ask your older toddlers about those trucks, “where do you think they’re going?” “Wow look, that’s a cement mixer!” This will help keep their brain engaged and teach them to look around. Perfect first car games to get them ready for others later on.
  12. If you’re kiddos love music like ours do, make a Spotify playlist with some of their favorite tunes. Then you don’t have to worry about searching through songs while driving (especially if you are alone with the kids’) This is our favorite silly song playlist, shoutout to the great soul that put this one together! We also just discovered Story Time with Josh and Blue, highly recommend.
  13. Don’t worry about the time or the ETA. The reality is, it’s probably going to take an hour longer than the GPS initially says. It is FULLY worth it to take your time, make stops and stretch out.
  14. If you can, and time allows, try and plan a cool stop where you can get out, have lunch and walk around for a bit. Check your route ahead of time and see if there are any cool places to stop quick right off the highway. On the way South, we love stopping at Bass Pro or Cabela’s near Sevierville.
  15. Finally, have patience with your kids. Getting stressed and angry isn’t going to help anyone in the cramped car. The more patience and understanding you can have with the kids, the better the trip will be for everyone. And remember, they can sense your stress.

That is it for our tips (so far!) I am sure we will have more as we start traveling more with these kiddos, but for know that is what works for us! Let us know in the comments if you have any other tips/tricks for family road trips that we might not know about!

Until next time,

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