19 answers

Seeking Advice on Car Travel with 1 1/2 Year Old

I'm considering taking a trip with my son who is 1 1/2 next month. I would be the only driver and the trip is an 8 hour trip. My son is a typcial toddler who doesn't enjoy being in a car for longer than an hour at a time. I'd like some tips/advice/encouragement from those of you that have travelled with toddlers? I'd like to visit my dad, but I'm stressed about the thought of traveling with my son for that long alone.

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Well I decided to try to look into flights. Driving is just so daunting for me to do alone!

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I know he's young but can you rig up a DVD with kiddie movies or videos that are at his level? This has helped a two-year-old grandchild who used to just scream and scream. Frequent stops, music he likes, things you can hand him that he considers special - toys, foods, comfort items - I imagine you've thought of these things. Also, knowing the time of day that would be best for him - maybe when he's sleepy.

Good luck!

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When we took our first trip to the family cottage 7 1/2 hours away in Canada our girls were almost 4 and 2 1/2. We had more adults in the car than you did, but most of the things I did with them you could do alone. I packed an activity bag for each of them - that they could easily get into by themselves. In it I had a few of their favorite toys, books, crayons and a small pad of paper to color on. I kept snacks & water bottles in the front seat with me, so that I could control how much they ate/drank at a given time. Our oldest was potty trained, so we didn't want her to get so much water that we had to stop every 30 minutes!! Even though our youngest wasn't potty trained, every time we stopped at a rest area or to use a restroom, we all got out of the car to stretch our legs and let the girls run a little bit. We didn't stop at every one, but we stopped often enough. Because you are alone, I would put the snacks on the front seat where you can easily get them. Also, if your son isn't normally in the center of the back seat, I would move him there for the trip just so that you can reach him easily. You may find that he sleeps more, possibly in shorter periods of time, but I wouldn't count on it - we left in the late afternoon that first time hoping they would spend the first couple of hours taking a nap, we were about 5 hours into the trip when they finally fell asleep for 30 minutes!! We've talked about getting the portable DVD player for the girls, but have managed to do the trip 2 times (going on 3) without it and haven't had a problem.

1 mom found this helpful

I took a trip from MI to FL this spring with our one year old. She has never liked car rides or car seats for that matter from day one so I knew it would be some what of a challenge. We took some of her favorite small toys and we had plenty of food because at that age she did not eat very much adult food. We had snack traps that let her hold her snacks but they didn't get all over. They are available at Toys or Babies R Us. We would stop every couple of hours or so, so that she could get out and move around. Maybe take a ball in the trunk or something that he can chase when you get out of the car to burn some steam. I think because it is just the two of you, maybe you could read up on some car games like pointing things out that he can recognize cars, boats, animals etc. this way you are interacting with him most of the way. Good luck and have fun. You won't regret it!

1 mom found this helpful

If you can handle it leave about an hour before his bed time that way he will sleep most of the trip. Have your dad watch him while you catch up on your sleep. Or try leaving at nap time make sure you have something to keep him busy. 16 years ago I used to travel alot with my son the doctors advice at that time was to give him a over the counter med that would make him sleep it worked to a point I didn't feel right about it he was interested in video games so I bought him a game boy when he was around 2 it worked it would keep him occupied for a couple of hours. I would then stop get gas a couple of snacks and drinks at a gas station next to an open lot or close to a rest area then I would let him run around the rest area or even at times McDonalds where they had the play areas let him play for 20 mins or until he was board then back in the car. It takes longer to get places that way but he would then sit for a few hours sometimes 3 or 4 before we needed to stop again. The key is to find something that will entertain them. If you leave an hour before his afternoon nap you may cover both bases he will take his nap you can stop get dinner let him play than it will be close to bed time. You need to figure out which schedule would be best for him and you.
Another thing make sure his car seat is well padded for him if you have to add some behind him and under him. put his seat behind the passanger seat so you can reach back and touch him and talk to him he will feel more involved if you have a conversation with him and he can see you.
I have a friend who drove to florida with two small children around that age she bought a portable DVD player and took along there favorite movies that worked for her.
Good luck. Have a safe trip

i travel w/my 15 mth old for a 6 hour trip ever since she was 3 mths old alone. depending on her mood, we can just stop once for gas, or 3-4 times... i keep a bag of toys/books and snacks beside me in the passenger seat and hand them to her when she gets fussy. if that doesn't please her then i know it's time to stop. i've also traveled in the evening w/her thinking that she would sleep...well that didn't work for me. she was up the entire trip minus the last hour and NOT in a good mood. i figured that at night, she doesn't have anything to look at, so now i travel in the day. however, i will be making a trip to myrtle beach, and i'm going to try to do that at night, but for that trip i might get a dvd player?...so we will see how that goes.
all i can tell you is to take your time...it's not important at what time you get there, just as long as you get there safe. and to stop as much as needed. take a stroller in w/you at rest stops unless you can use the bathroom while holding your little one...lol.
hope this helps, and have fun!!!

We actually just traveled with our 14 month old. The trip would have been like 10 hours, but we split it in half. We got a hotel room. I know it seems like a lot, but all three of us were in much better moods than we would have been. I also packed slot of snacks that could be distributed easily from the front seat includng dry fruit, raisins, and French fries. No crackers or anything of the like because the crumbs would be everywhere. I also packed a few sippy cups. We also made sure to play a lot of music and try to make eye contact with her as often as possible. Also, no driving at night for us. As soon as it gets dark and she can't see out of the window all he'll breaks loose.

My family is not from here, to get "home" to visit grandparents it takes 8 hours also. We have been traveling long car rides since my girls have been born! Things that helped at that age were, getting extra sleep during the day and leave around 6pm and travel through the night so that your young one can sleep in the car while you travel. If traveling through the night is not an option, other things that work for us is to make sure they were surrounded with their favorite toys in the back seat, we took snacks to have in the car, and of course if it is a possibility when all else fails, the portable car DVD system to pop in their favorite movie never fails!

Good luck with your trip!

All of the other advice is top notch. When we took my son from MI to NY, we also included a "car" for him to drive. It has a steering wheel and music and everything. The sounds were pretty annoying, but they were much better than him crying and/or asking to get out. What activities can she do while strapped in to make her feel like she is "helping" or important? That timing advice is really the best. My parents would do it on our 12 hour trips when we were teenagers.

We just took a trip with our 1 1/2 year old (about 6 hour drive). One thing that was a life saver was when she started to get cranky and needed to get out and blow off some steam we would get off on an exit and look for a church or school with a playground and let her play on it for a few minutes. Snacks were great and her favorite cd and a few small new toys to play with.

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