11 Hour Car Ride with a 2-Year-old

Updated on March 28, 2012
A.G. asks from Bucyrus, OH
11 answers

We are planning on a trip to the ocean this summer. It's a 10-11 hour car ride. Other than driving some of the time @ night and making frequent stops, what worked for you to occupy your kid(s)? My daughter is 2 and gets tired/bored riding in the car for too long. I could use some ideas from the mamas out there!

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answers from Cleveland on

I'm like some other moms ~ we only do the portable DVD player on long trips (otherwise, no TV in the car), that way it's special. We'd pick out their favorite movies & sometimes get cheap ones (like the $5 bins at Wal-Mart) that way they're new & the kids are excited to watch. I've also gone to drug stores or the $1 aisle at Target to get cheap toys for the car, again, the thought being that they're new & will hold their interest longer. Frequent breaks to let the kids get out & stretch & run around. We also always bring special snacks & drinks for them. Have fun!

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answers from Dallas on

We have taken 18 hour road trips with our kids frequently. Driving at night has NOT worked for us in the past. THe kids always sleep restlessly and become a cranky mess. On top of that me and the hubby are exhausted and short tempered. So after two tries, we have decided that , for us, driving at night does not work.

THings that did work with either of our kids at two?
- DVD Player

- Lap trays We bought some soft sided ones at Target (soft so they are safe in case of an accident). The sides were raised, it helped figures and cars stay put and not get dropped constantly.

-Hot wheels (with the lap trays)

- Mini play dough It's not as messy with one small can, kids were occupied for hours. I imagine it works best if someone is able to keep an eye on kids to make sure they aren't getting careless.


- frequent stops I brought a ball to rest stops and let the kids run for 5 or 10mnutes. And we ate at places with playgrounds.

- Surprise bag A mom on here suggested it to me when I was driving 18 hours solo with both kids. I filled it with random things, mostly from the dollar store. Whenever fussiness or boredom seemed to set in, I'd pull something new out. It may have only entertained them for a little while, but it was much better than dealing with melt downs

-ANd the best thing...snacks, snacks and more snacks!!! We only allowed water in the car and attempted to make the snacks healthy. But that seemed like the best entertainment around!

Have a safe trip!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I got some great advice and printe out the States and we found license plates...my kids can read though. Maybe play iSpy? let her help find different looking license plates?

Sleeping, frequent stops.
Snacks and water bottles.
Color Wonder coloring packs.
Car games.
Talk about the fun things she will do at the beach once you have arrived.
Quiz her about beach things (what color is the water? sky? sand?)

I think if you drive overnight that's best. Bathe her and get her in pj's then hop in the car. We did that driving to Disney World in 2009 when our kids were 6, 4, and 2. We got stuck in a snow storm and the drive took us 6 hours longer than it should have. The kids did FABULOUS.



answers from San Antonio on

We too take long car trips from Texas to Kansas (roughly 13-14 hours one-way) and back...we actually didn't pull out the DVD player until our 1st born son was almost 5. We kept him busy with cars, coloring books, etch a sketch, magnadoodles and this past year, I purchased an actual Doodle Pad (blank notebook pages in a binder to draw on). For being 2, he will like interaction - we spend a lot of time talking, etc. I sat with our son in the back (still do occasionally now with our 2 yr old daughter too) usually & played with toys (running trucks up his leg, etc.) We looked out the window a lot & talked about what we saw- look for airplanes, construction equipment - and what they all do (include color of objects as a game at this age). I pack lots of books to read for both, cheerios, fruit snacks (only 2 packs per day tho), goldfish, banana chips, animal cookies, squeezable fruit or applesauce, and string cheese is a big favorite. You'll be surprised at how fast a trip can go when everyone's busy...when it's nap time, I put all toys away, play their favorite CD (softly), get their teddy/blanket in hand & we sing and I caress a hand or leg until they fall asleep! Definitely let them burn energy during stops...we go potty, then do laps around the store or run circles in the grassy area nearby - works wonders!! In essence, we focus on keeping them occupied my interacting & talking with them about the world around them. What does an airplane do? Do you see any in the sky? There are always constructions/semi trucks on the road - we talk about the blue truck going fast hauling his cargo - maybe they are carrying dolls or strollers?!! This has worked for us - hope it works for you!!! Sorry for the novel! Have fun!!



answers from New York on

I'm not one for putting a kid in front of a tv set, but in this case I highly recommend a portable dvd player.

Sit in the backseat with her and read some books.

Get a kids cd and sing along together.



answers from Los Angeles on

Before the legislatures adopted stupidity as their mantra, we would make a place on the floor and seats of our car or van for the kids to sleep or play as we drove.

They played with their favorite toys or my wife read to them or they played games with each other (not tag! 8~)) ).

I would bring along turkey sandwiches for the saritonin for my youngster. That would make traveling easier. We brought along food for our kids to eat in my car. We would feed them about 30 to 60 minutes before I had to stop for gas. Then we would stop at McD or BK or other burger joint with a play area. By the time they finished going to the bathroom and played in the play area, they were ready for a nap when we loaded back up to travel on.

Good luck to you and yours.


answers from Lansing on

portable dvd player :)



answers from Boston on

For an 8 hour plane ride plus 3 hours at the airport beforehand and an hour drive at the destination, I got lots of little toys for my girls.
- wacky stick are wax sticks you can make things out of,sort of like playdo in pipecleaner shape.
- mangetic dolls in a tin with clothes
- mangadoodle
- books called "101 things to spot in (in the sea, on the farm, intown, etc) http://www.amazon.com/1001-Things-Spot-Fairyland-Usborne/...
This is for young kids, the bottom of the page lists about 10 things to find in various quantities, and they loved those books for years, even though they were fairly simple.
- electronic speaking alphabet, ours had not just the letters but you could change the mode and then each letter had a melody and another mode would say a word with the letter not just the letter. something like this:
- handheld kid game system like the Mobigo or Leapster.
- little party favor toys, like sticker books and even tiny bubble wands, little dolls, etc.
- a new stuffed animal to pull out when tiredness (and crankiness) sets in.
- consider talking to you doctor about bendaryl or dramamine. I take dramamine since I get motion sickness and it makes me drowsy so that when alone I actually sleep about 6 out of the 8 hours of the flight in those uncomfortable small seats.
- fun snacks that you would not normally buy, or just in baggies or containers for travel that are different than you usually get (fishies in little boxes instead of buying the huge container and putting it in tupperware like usual).
- lots of sleep for mom beforehand!



answers from Cleveland on

I would leave early in the am (between 3 and 4) you will get further along faster because of less traffic and your child will be asleep most of the journey too. Listening to books on tape or music with the headphones is great. I'm not a big fan of movies the entire time. Just be careful for any activities that require looking down may make someone car sick and induce vomiting.



answers from Des Moines on

We did a 15 hour car trip a few months back. My son was probably 17 months old? Anyway - he does NOT sleep in the car, so we did daytime driving.

What we did that helped was I had gone to the dollar store before our tripped and bought several cheap toys. I wrapped each in wrapping paper and every hour or so, I would let him open a new toy. It was really fun for him. We drove about 3 hours at a time and then would let him out to run/play/explore at rest stops. The fresh air and green grass did him a lot of good and he was generally good to go getting back in the car. Good luck to you!



answers from Columbus on

We went to Virginia Beach last year with our 2 yo. We went to leave at 3AM thinking she would go back to sleep - BUT NO, she was up and excited about what we were doing. Anyway, the ride was still fine. We purchased a portable dvd player to keep her occupied (she loves her Disney movies), but also thought we wouldn't have to get it out until half way thru...so glad we brought plenty of movies. We got ours for under $100 and now take it whenever we are going for long trips (2 hrs +) (I am NOT a fan of tvs just for going to the store or school, etc... we want our kids to know how to get someplace vs staring at a tv all the time) . Snacks, other activities.... books, any light up/noise toys all are good too. I LOVE the new toys wrapped up idea!! Have fun!

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