15 answers

Car Travel and Camping with One Year Old

Does anyone have suggestions for car travel of approx. 5 hours, and camping with a one year old. How difficult is it? Does their schedule get completly thrown off? Any tips as to when is best to do the drive? After first nap; before first nap; later at night; or earlier in the morning?

Thank you in advance,
N.

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Okay, so I'm not real sure how to respond to all of you wonderful mothers. But THANK YOU! This is very helpful - great suggestions.
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Hello, went camping up to Bass Lake with our 1 year old last summer (went again this summer, it's an annual thing, she was 2 this time). It is a 5 hour drive for us, and I knew her limit was like 2 hours in the car awake, so I planned it that we left at about 6:30 pm, stopped for dinner at 8, changed her into PJs and she conked out for the night after that. Of course, that meant arriving at midnight and setting up our tent by flashlight. Not the best, but it worked for us and we were camping with a ton of other people who were already at the site and had a spot staked out for us and were happy to help us (we can be a rowdy group, yes there were still some up to greet us when we arrived at midnite!)
This nighttime driving plan worked better on the way home because no tent to set up back at home. We just didn't unpack the car till the next morning.

As far as camping she did fine, we did not adhere to a nap schedule, it happened when it happened. I never know what time it is while camping anyway. At night she was in her packNplay in the tent, covered with tons of blankets (it will be cold no matter where you are camping!) During the day she usually slept on a pile of beach towels or a raft in the shade (it is lake/beach camping there).

I did bring some brand new toys for her to entertain her on the ride, and when we were in dire straights at camp. Mostly she did not need toys or diversions while camping. The people, the water, and nature were enough for her. But it did help in the car.

Wore almost every outfit and pair of socks we brought... they get dirty!

Don't know how long or where you are going, but we gave her a little rinse in a sunshower every day in the late afternoon, I liked thinking she was a little clean...

Have fun! It won't be too difficult, just go with the flow and you'll be fine!

what worked best for us was either early in the morning or about an hour before bedtime. either time, they are really tired. if those aren't options for you go about an hour before regular nap time, drive until baby wakes up from nap. then find a good place to get out, eat and play for about an hour. then get back in and finish your trip if able. otherwise, find another good spot to pull over and play some more. just pack some good finger foods, and sippy cups or bottles, and a couple of favorite toys to play with. if they actually watch TV, a portable DVD is GOLD!!!!!! i have three children (almost 7, just turned 2 and 4 months) and have been camping since my oldest was about 2 weeks. the best thing at a year is to just bring some toys that are easily washable, lots of extra clothes, a playpen that can be outside (if you have two its great cuz you then you have an outside and inside one), and lots of baby wipes. just let them be free to explore if they're walking, and just chatter about what you see. i don't know what kind of camping or where you're going, but we camp in the mountains. no toilets or shower, just two outhouses and two spickets at the opposite ends of the campgrounds with clean water. we fish and hike (if you have a backpack its great for hiking) and just let everyone play. when you do a fire, that's playpen time or bedtime. i hope you have fun. let me know how it goes or contact me if you have more questions. its a lot of work at this age, but really worth it.

purchase a Kiddie Kangaroo (Amazon.com or www.kiddiekangaroo.com) for your little guy's car seat. Kiddie Kangaroo is a soft travel pocket system which gives your one-year old a place to keep and access his stuff while traveling! Sippy cups, bottles, toys and snacks stay next to him while traveling in his car seat. No more dropped stuff and crying from the back seat!
Travel safer as you can stay focused on the road. Starting travel before morning nap gives your little guy some great happy travel time and then he can sleep in his car seat before awakening for lunch.

With my experience with traveling with a a young child I would suggest traveling at night. If you have to pull over it wont be as hot and hopefully he or she will sleep most of the way. Are you going alone? If not I suggest sitting in the back seat with your child. Bring entertaining books, hand puppet etc. As for your schedule being thrown off, I think that if you want to live your life , yes schedules will have to be adjusted! When you get back home you can get back to normal. P.S Bring lots of plastic trash bags and wipies!

We just took our 14-month-old on her 2nd camping trip. FRom someone's suggestion on here, we took a battery-opperated desk fan for the tent so that it could provide some air and to mask out some of the campground noise (birds, dogs, people, etc.) while she was sleeping. We use the KidCo Peapod sleeping tent for her. I would try to leave when your little one is ready for their first nap of the day. The trip will take longer than you plan and you want to get there so your little one can run around some at the campground before having to go to bed for the night. Bring lots of wipes. For her bath, we used the dishpan as her little tub.

dif it were me i would leave early after breakfast so you can get your little one settled. just take some snacks for the ride some drinks and toys.
i will be taking a 21 hour dive with my 28 almost 29 month old daughter. we wll be taking a dvd player for her and movies, toys lots of snacks and color wonder books. we will be leaving by 9am and then we will stop about 4 hours later for lunch.
remember if they get a little off schedual its ok your going out for fun. just make sure that your baby is getting enough sleep at night. just have fun with it :)

We went camping with my first DD when she was just a little over a year. It was more time consuming but she loved it. We woke up, ate breakfast, played a little and then packed up the car to leave. By the time we left she was ready for her first nap and slept about 2 1/2 hrs of our 4 hr trip. We stopped for a rest and played on some grass, ate a snack and just kept her busy. We didn't make good time but most importantly she was happy :) We took a pack and play and she took naps in it and played while we set up camp, took it down, cooked dinner, etc., we had it outside in the shade during the day. We just co slept in the tent at night, or you could put the pack and play inside the tent. She wasn't too thrown off, but she's also very easy going and does whatever. It was hard though, it didn't seem I ever got a break! LOL It was still fun and have lots of fun memories.
We just took our youngest DD who is 4 mos and our now 3 yr old camping 2 weeks ago. Did the same as mentioned above, a shorter driving distance. Sometimes you think "why did I bring a baby camping?" LOL but all and all it's a great experience for the family and worth it. Our 3 yr old loves camping now so best to start them early :) Have fun!

Hi N.,

I just went camping with my 10-month-old and we were in the car for about 5-6 hrs as well. We left first thing in the morning so we'd get to the campsite with plenty of time to set up and settle in before night. I'm glad we did because it took much longer to do all of that with a baby.

I had her take naps in the car at the regular times. We would go through her regular sleep routine (blankie, songs, saying "night night") to let her know that it was time to go to sleep. She took short naps (45 minutes instead of her regular 1.5 hrs), but it was enough to get her through.

Be sure to bring a noise maker for night time if you'll be sleeping in tents. We were camping next to a group with a lot of children and dogs and it was pretty noisy.

Hope that helps. Have fun!!!

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