19 answers

Long Car Ride - Pittsburgh,PA

Does anyone have any ideas and tips on how to keep my 2 year old entertained for an 8 hour car ride. I plan to do a few stops because I also have an 8 month old that I have to feed, but she gets very antsy in the car even for short trips. Thanks for the info!

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We took a trip to Disney (from PA) with our almost 3 year old and it was a long 3 day car ride. Surprising to me he did pretty good. We did cheat a bit and have a small DVD player that did help pass the time but we also sang a lot of songs, looked for cows and horses when going through farm land. Counted trucks and busses when going through the city's. If you have two adults traveling it does help. I brought his mini etch-a -sketch (not sure on that spelling) but we would draw simple things like cars, boats, flowers, ladybugs, turtles ect. I did read some books and tell stories. We did a fair amount of talking about the trip to Disney itself to prepare him for what he was going to see and do on his vacation.

One very important thing I learned was the the car seats cause your child to have a fair amount of flextion at the hips which caused my son's legs to go to sleep over time. He complained about his legs hurting him and it seemed that he just had some numbness due to lack of circulation. Once I learned this I just took a small childs blanket and folded it under his hips to raise him up some. This made his upper legs more level and gave him some relief. You figure they can't move around and adjust like we can with those safety seats. I still felt he was safe because of the 5 point harness. He just looked a lot more comfortable with his hips raised up a L.. This of course with getting out to run around on breaks was great for us. Even just 10 or 15 min. of moving outside the car. Having snacks and napping "of course normal toddler routine" helped pass time also. Good luck, 8 hours will go by pretty fast if you can make it fun :)

1 mom found this helpful

Here are some ideas to keep them entertained. Good luck!
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1 mom found this helpful

i took my now 10 month old on a 4 hour car trip 2wice . once when she was 4 months once when she was 8 1/2 months . she slept both ways the whole time. give them bottles. there are travel games . sing together. count cars

We have a bag of car toys for each of our boys. They are small L. toys like planes, maraccas, etc. from the dollar store, plus some puzzles, books and doodle games. We have a book with removal magnetic pieces that they love. While I add something new every once in a while, what makes this special is that they never see these things unless we're on a long trip -- the joy of novelty! We pop in silly sing-along CDs, play "I spy" and other funny rhymes, etc. Drinks and finger snacks are interspersed when needed (these are usually something different/special, too). We also have a DVD player for the car, but we hold that off until we've run out of everything else. Finally, we bring their security objects, maybe pillows, blankies - depending on how sunny it is - for snuggle down to nap time ;) As long as you can keep yourself relaxed (easier than it sounds, I know), you can help her to enjoy the trip too... Hope you're going somewhere fun~

Keep your expectations low - remember how YOU feel during an 8 hour car ride! Let your husband take you 2yo for a walk during the breaks. We've used a DVD player for our boys from about 2yo for car rides longer than 2 hours and that buys us some peace and quite. They'll still get tired of watching movies at some point, but you do get at least 2 two-hour periods of peace during a long drive like that. We have an 8 hour drive coming up in 6 weeks and I'm dreading it even with the DVD player! My boys are older and can use a Leapster, which helps, too. Not sure if 2 yo is old enough to understand a Leapster?

DVD player and Leapster (or Leap Pad, if your child isn't old enough to use the Leapster). You can get DVDs from the library to save some $, just test them before you go to make sure they work, sometimes library DVDs have scratches and dont' work. I wouldn't want to find that out on the road.

I have to give a big YES to the DVD player for the car ride!!! Last September my husband and I drove to North Carolina for vacation 11 hours straight through with our 16 month old. We packed lots of snacks and even though I felt horribly guilty because our daughter was watching non stop Elmo we got there without a hitch. She did not make a peep the entire trip. We stopped every 2 hours or so for a few minutes to stretch our legs or grab a quick bite and diaper change then back in the car. We had planned to do it in two days but things were going so good we just kept on driving.
Good luck and have fun!

The First Years makes a great, soft collapsible tray for writing/coloring on. It has pockets on the sides that can hold crayons, snacks, etc. It's great! We use ours on long car trips and they save the day.

I also second/third/fourth the DVD player idea. A real must for long car trips.

Hi, we're in the same boat- we have a 12 hour car trip with an active 3.5yo DS and a hungry 3 month old.

We're considering
1. driving all night/ DH and I taking shifts sleeping and driving. My dad did this all the time, but it really is rough on the parents the next day. It is contingent on being able to shove kids off on the visitee, and being able to sleep immediately after arrival.
2. taking 2 days to drive each way & driving during the eldest DS's afternoon nap. We have had must success with this- typically can drive 5h (prior to baby). We pile in the car around 11am, drive 1.5h, drive thru for Happy Meals, sleep 2h, done.

Come to think of it, we can probably vary this on the long trip (add a DVD in the evening, take a activity break, one more meal)!
3. Leave at 11am, get in at 11pm (or realistically 1am with all the feeding stops). That would allow a bit better sleep for us parents!

Good luck!

I'm definitely not a big advocate for using the TV as a "baby siter" - but I will admit, my husband and I bought one of the portable DVD players for the car for our 6-month old when we took a road trip to Florida... From Pittsburgh to Orlando, it's about a 16-hour trip (that's driving straight through, lol). We were able to make it from PA to FL in one day because of it! We had a bunch of different DVDs for him -- but there are also some DVD players out there that you could hook up a game system (like those Leapster systems) so that it wouldn't just be DVDs your L. one is watching - she could be learning at the same time... and you would be able to hopefully, make it through the 8-hour drive pretty quickly. Also, the DVD plyayer we bought came with 2 displays (but it can also play 2 separate DVDs at the same time). If you did this, you could have a separate display for each of your L. ones.
Good luck with the road trip :)
--E

When my daughter was not quite 2, we drove from Iowa to Southern California. It went really well, and she was and is a very active L. girl. We took turns sitting next to her, reading books and singing songs. We also stopped at rest areas twice a day to let her run off her pent up energy. It took us longer to get where we were going, but was definately worth it for the lack of melt downs! Also, you can get a portable DVD player for the care for less than $100. If she likes some preschool programs such as the Wiggles, or Disney Sing A Longs, would help keep her occupies some of the time too. Happy travelling! Have a safe and fun trip!
M.

Hi --
We drive overnight. That way they can sleep and we can just get there. When we arrive, we all crash for a few hours (even our son), and then the rest of the day is fine -- we're a bit tired, but fine!

First off, before you drive, make sure you have everything completely done before you put your kids in the car - car is packed and gassed up, everyone has gone to the bathroom, baby has been fed and changed, etc. That way you don't have to keep them in the car any longer than necessary.

Can you google parks that are along the route? That way you can feed the baby while your 2 year old gets some energy out.
Get some entertaining music that your 2 year old can sing along to.
Bring some new toys that your 2 year old hasn't ever seen before.
Leave when its 2 year old's nap time so you can get a good head start before having to stop.

8 hours is a long drive so stop as often as you need.

When my son was 2 and my DH was deployed overseas, I drove from NJ to FL and I bought my son a Fisher Price laptop for $25 at Walmart. He played with it constantly! It wasn't fragile like an iPod Touch and it has survived the last 4 years, especially when he went through the throwing his toys on the floor from his high chair stage. We didn't have a portable DVD player at the time, but the laptop did the trick. Might be a nice addition to your list of stuff for the L. one. Good luck and enjoy your trip!

We use a DVD player (he doesn't watch much TV at home, so it is a real treat) and stop at state parks or rest areas so he can be outside while he eats and can run around/play on the playground equipment. Also, my 2 yo only gets a pacifier at night, but I let him have it in the car on long trips-- with the DVD player headphones on and the pacifier in his mouth I don't hear from him for at least the first 3 hours of the trip... then we stop, get back in, stop for lunch, he naps, then more movies and a stop and then you are there!

Also, I can't emphasize how much food you need in the car for these trips-- you can keep them busy for at least a half an hour in the morning and the afternoon with small, individual foods like one goldfish or raisin at a time. However, I would stay away from any food that has added sugar or any artificial colors, which have been proven to cause hyperactivity. (Check those goldfish-- there are some without colors, or get the Annie's Bunnies)

a portable dvd player!! buy some new movies that your 2 year old hasn't seen yet. maybe from a series that he/she likes!! barney or bob the builder or barbie!! have some snacks that they can open and eat themsevles and a tippy cup of soemthing to drink. coloring book or new picture books!

We have to make an 36+ hour roundtrip (PA to MO and back) a few times a year with our 2 and 4 year old. While it is not ideal for many families, our kids have come to enjoy it and we rarely have breakdowns. This is what we have done:

Definitely get a DVD player. Our kids are allowed very minimum TV usually so it is a big treat where they get to pick a few movies to bring. We always turn it off when it is nap time and night time and they rarely watch more than a few a day.

I always get L. bags with new books, a few L. toys (usually from the dollar store or similar) and several kids snacks and drinks. I rarely spend more than $10 a kid and they can't wait to get into the car to see what is in their new bags.

We bring lots of books and have story time as well in the car. Also load an ipod with fun kids songs and that keeps our boys busy for spurts in between movies and naps. Our kids listen to music when they go to sleep so we play that CD from the iPod as well in the car when it is nap or night time and they usually go to sleep pretty easily or at least calm down a bit.

We used our GPS to find parks along our route and took some small (two miles) detours to go to a park instead of McDonalds or a rest stop. We had brought some balls and a wiffle bat and a frisbee and our boys spent most of the time I spent making sandwiches and lunch plates running around and getting energy out.

Also plan on stopping every few hours. The longest we usually go without stopping is two hours and some of them are very quick stops but at least it breaks up the trip a bit for them.

Good luck! With a L. planning you'll hopefully find it isn't as bad as you fear:)

Ipod Touch with games and movies or a laptop with movies on it. Hand held games-if she likes electronics. Tapes/CD's of kids music. Plan to leave, if you can, while she/he should be sleeping...say 4am or 10pm.
I had a 13.5 hour road trip each way with a 3 yr old this last April, it wasn't difficult at all...you can do it!!!
Oh, ring pops if you are ok with candy. Those keep my daughter for about 2 hours and she doesn't get wired on them. She got one during each trip.

We drove last summer with our son who was 2 at the time to the Carolinas. Definately DVD player...a must. We also went to the dollar store and I bought some L. toys for my son and wrapped them up. I would randomly give him presents throughout the trip. He loved that! We also took a cookie sheet and filled it with different magnets. That was a huge hit! Kept busy for a while with that one. They have really cute magnet games with people and different outfits...any kind of magnets really.
Then obviously favorite snacks and drinks. Bring a snack he loves but doesn't get often.
I think you will find it is easier than you ever imagined it could be.
Good luck and have fun!

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