Car Trip with a Toddler

Updated on September 07, 2010
M.J. asks from San Jose, CA
8 answers

I'm making an 7-8 hour car trip with my almost 3y/o. Any suggestions to help her pass the time would be GREATLY appreciated! p.s. She very rarely sleeps in the car... :(

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answers from Salinas on

I know its a copout but invest in a dvd portable player. Once she gets antsy it will save your sanity and be worth the perhaps guilty feeling we get for putting kids in front of tv instead of entertaining them. My kids play and have fun in the car but on a long drive I stick a video in when boredom strikes and its such a treat. also I bring snacks that aren't too messy but a fun treat that they don't usually get like goldfish or animal cookies along with other healthy snacks to keep sanity on the drive... good luck

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I drove from Missoula MT to Eagle River AK with a 2 and 4 year old! My best friends were snacks and a portable DVD player. Also plan to stop and let them run a little in the middle of the day, like if you see a nice park in a town half way to your destination.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Bring a magnadoodle if you can!! It helped a lot with my 2 year old. We also have an I-touch with a couple movies downloaded on it. They are expensive though around $100 (I think). My husband bought it for me for our anniversary, but he and my son use it too.
I pack my son blueberries, crackers, juice, milk, toys that he can manipulate and even candy or fruit snacks (to hold off crying). I also try to talk to him a lot and get him interested in where we're going.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I made a 15 hour trip last month by myself with my 22 mo and my 4 yo. I expected a nightmare, but the trip wasn't as horrible as I anticipated. Here are my must haves:
- snacks. We had an only water rule for the car and I tried to buy snacks that wouldn't be too messy. Eating kids were happy kids.
-DVD player. Helped a lot, but my kids didn't watch as much as I thought or hoped they would
-ball. We kicked it around at rest stops to blow off some energy
-surprises. A mom on this site suggested having random surprises on hand. I stocked up at the Dollar store on treats. When the kids got fussy or bored I pulled out the new toy. They may have only played with it for 10 minutes, but it was a big enough distraction that they stopped whining.
-pillow and small blanket
-playgrounds- we ate at places with playgrounds
-Toys. Stored them in a basket. Etch a sketch, magnadoodle, books, crayons, coloring book, tag reader, etc
-Lap tray. This thing was a life saver! I originally bought it for my baby to play on. Since it's not hard enough to color on, I didn't get one for my son. We wound up stopping to get him one. He could play with his figures and cars without them falling all over the place. He loved it and I didn't hear anymore about dropped toys. ( A friend borrowed mine for her daughter...she played with her LIttlest Pet Shop figures on a long trip.).
HTH! Have a safe trip!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I agree with the poster that mentioned surprises and playing games. That worked so well with our son. He is NOT a car sleeper and we look an 8 hour trip to Legoland. Every hour I gave him a "surprise" to open. These things were small: a book, a notebook with stickers (target has been having great back to school sales), matchbox cars, etc. Things that were inexpensive and that captured his interest. We didn't take a DVD player but it turns out he didn't need it. He also spent a good deal of time asking about surroundings and talking to us about it. We have satellite radio but we also made a "mix CD" of his music so every one in awhile we would listen to his stuff and that kept him happy as well. :) We made bathroom stops and gave him a chance to stretch his legs (which extended the driving time but not by much, well worth it). Good luck!! :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I have a three year old and we have taken quite a few road trips with him. Get a portable DVD player and something to mount it in the car. They have versions that hang from the seat from straps, or we have a plastic shelf that attaches between the drivers and passegers seat head rests. Also be sure to bring plenty of snacks. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

We do lots of 4-5 hour trips with our girls (4 and almost 3). A drawing board is a very good thing to have. Also, lots of new toys that can be played with in the car. Ask her to pick out some things from home she would like to bring so she feels she has some control also 8-) Snacks are a good thing to have as kids get hungry and it helps distract them. Playing games together in the car is also helpful (ask her to look for a blue car or a cow or other things you know you will see).
Good luck on your trip!

1 mom found this helpful
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