How Do I Keep 19 Month Old Entertained on Long Road Trip?

Updated on September 02, 2009
B.D. asks from Lawton, OK
11 answers

My husband, my 19 month old daughter, and my 2 dogs will be driving from OK to NY. We have a limited amount of time to get there (military move) and I'm worried how my little one will cope with being on the road. My husband insists that we will drive at night when she sleeps but I don't know if we should restrict ourselves to this because we will be in 2 different cars and I will be too tired to drive. Any suggestions on how to keep her entertained? I imagine her getting irritable for being in the seat for extended periods of time. It will be a very long drive. Yikes!

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answers from Alexandria on

I recently made a trip from Louisiana to Maryland with my daughter, my two grandchildren, ages 5 and 2,and my dog. It took about 25 hrs. They slept most of the time. We left about 8:30 a.m. and arrived at my sister's about 10:30 a.m. the next day, remember there is a time change. Good luck and best wishes for a safe trip.

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answers from Fayetteville on

Wow that will be a long drive! I know when we were just going 5 hours away I didnt want to take my kids because I figured it would be horrible. I would suggest lots of music. My kids loved the radio. My daughter usually sleeps if we are in a car longer than an hour. I like driving at night because by then its my kids bedtime. I would suggest maybe leaving at nap time during the day that way your not too tired at night. When you stop to get gas or something get her out so she can stretch and move around some. She wont like getting back in but she will calm down when you start moving again. Lots of toys. It seems our truck is one big toy box. Rather we go for a ride into town or to another town they have to have some kind of toy. Good luck. I hope this helps.

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answers from Biloxi on

We moved from Washington to Mississippi when my oldest was about this age with two dogs and two horses, then, a few months later from Mississippi to Nebraska and a few months after that from Nebraska to Mississippi with the two week old baby--military moves, new duty station, then my husband deployed and then he came back--and my son did very well with all moves. We have a portable DVD player and when he got really rambunctious, we turned on spider man (I know that you have a girl, but I am sure you have something she likes). It was not on all the time, maybe 2 hours per day. He did not cry and was reAlly very good about all the moves. Oh--we drove all during the day. My husband doesn't like us to eat in the car, so no snacks, and we stopped every few hours for the horses, but mostly at rest stops for a very short while, unless it was time for a meal.



answers from Lake Charles on

Oh boy, I feel for you. I think driving through the night might be dangerous. Some of my friends have done it with their kids but they are only driving one car--so the other adult can sleep or keep the driver company. I think if you and your husband are driving 2 separate cars it might be very, very tiring. Also, during the day your daughter will be wide away and you're going to be exhausted from no sleep.

So, here are some thoughts: Music, books-on-tape, and maybe a DVD player (I'm not keen on the DVD idea normally but in this case it may help).

Or, can you shorten each driving day to only 5-6 hours a day? It will take longer but it may be better than driving with an irritable toddler.

Or, are there any other options? Can you ask a friend or family member to drive with you so someone can be in the back seat with your daughter to feed her snacks, read books, color, etc.?

Better yet, can you and your daughter fly up to NY and a friend/family member drive the cars up with your husband?

Sorry I don't have a real solution to your problem. I hope it all works out smoothly for you! Best of luck. :)



answers from Tulsa on

I looked it up on yahoo travel and it is about 1500 miles and 24 hours straight through. If you can imagine being strapped down in a seat that, at best, is hard and hot, and you aren't allowed to move for days and days. That is what it will feel like to your child. Time passes much differently for them. I agree somewhat with your husband but again sleeping in the same position, especially sitting up, for hours and hours is an awful lot of stress for anyone.

Is your husband going to stay awake all day and take care of her while you sleep so you can drive all night? No, so I don't think it is fair of him to think you can take care of her all day then stay up all night driving. Either pack your car in the truck/tow it and both go in one car and share the driving or one of you drive and the other take a train with the child. You can get on the train at Ardmore to Dallas/Fort Worth and then get on the train for about 40 hours and he can meet you at the station when you get to New York.

Here's an example of the trip. Leave the Ardmore station, go to D/FW (2 Hr.), change to the Texas Eagle, go to Chicago (23 1/2 hr.), change to the train taking the route you want (20-21 Hrs.), either by the lake shores or through Washington, can take food and water, sleep in an actual, well sort of, fold down bed.

Or if you wanted to drive in the night time to Newton Kansas you could take the train to Chicago in about 12 hours, then to NY it's only about 20 hours. You might beat him there. LOL.
If you do decide to drive then you must insist that you make frequent stops for eating and play. I would say every 2-4 hours she needs to run and play and have a meal or snack, plus diaper change. Take lots of fluids, that is one thing people just forget to do when traveling and they end up dehydrated. Check out websites for road trips. There are lots of things to do in cars with older kids but not much for little ones except movies on a DVD player.

If it were me I would consider taking along another driver to help out and let you and her sleep through, they could fly back, or you fly there by way of Military discount, take the train, or something to make the trip easier for that little angel.



answers from Tulsa on

I took my daughter on an airplane when she was 2 1/2 and I packed a backpack with some small dolls, books, her favorite blanket, snacks and that type of thing. When we traveled in the car I have a portable DVD and I would put in a movie that would also help to keep her entertained. You will have to make frequent stops to let her get out and run, not to mention your dogs. If you try to do all of the driving at night when she's sleeping when will you sleep?
Best of luck on your move.



answers from Monroe on

Hi B.. If you don't already have a car DVD player, I would invest in one now! They aren't too expensive and keep my kids occupied for the longest amount of time on road trips. If it's a really long trip (like yours), I will buy a few of their favorites (wonder pets, Dora, little bear) that they've never seen, and save them for the trip. A great tip that I learned from a friend, is to prepare a goodie bag or treat for every hour you will be in the car. (This could really add up in your case, but you could check out dollar stores.) That way, the kids have something to look forward to, and something to help pass the time until the next hour. Although your daughter is young, this worked well with my two-year old. It could be anything from a small toy to a book, coloring book, or stickers. Also, snacks work well. Easy snacks (such as raisins, goldfish, marshmallows, dry cereal, grapes) can be pre- bagged for convenience for you and little hands. If your daughter enjoys music, make sure to bring along some CDs with children's songs. Hopefully, your daughter will nap and you can make a few stops. We have found that (as gross as they are) fast food places with playgrounds/playlands are useful, as the kids get to burn off some energy and usually take longer naps. I understand why you have apprehension about driving at night. I've never done it, but I know many people with little ones that won't travel any other way. Whatever you decide, I hope you have a safe (and not too stressful) trip!



answers from Huntsville on

I'd try (Only if You feel she's ready) to get some magnets (you can cut out pics from coloring books and glue them to magnets you get in drugstores-I'd put them on card stock first) or you can get animal magnets all sorts of things at places like Walmart. I would get a big ol cookie sheet and let her play.
This is a much cheaper alternative to the DVD player-just in case it wont fit in your budget. If it Would I'd think about getting one though-we don't use it for travel, but we use it with our 3.5 yr old for when we GET There. She is much happier with us unloading what we need for the night when she's watching a movie/tv show.
You could also get a small magnetic board (again IF she won't put the 'pen' part in her mouth-magnet is REALLY small) and let her "draw or write".
Also I'd try and find someting she could eat in the car-we let our girl eat nuts (now) and mini-marshmallows and drink Water from a non-spillable sippy-this way she doesn't get crumbs/sticky juice everywhere.
Books and coloring pages/books are great too. If you get the cookie sheet thing it can double as a "desk" if she likes to color/draw.
Hope this helps-and you have a great-Smooth Move!



answers from Fayetteville on

I would be concerned about driving at night too. Have you tried a portable dvd player? I know it's not ideal to have your kids watching hours and hours of tv, but it has really helped us on trips. Also frequent stops. We got a markerboard for my son to use in the car, but he was 2, so I don't know if that would work for you (also the markers do stain, so you have to be ok with that if they get somewhere). Maybe a chalkboard or crayons and paper. Good luck!



answers from Tulsa on

We like to read ours some of her favorite books (we have them memorized so we just recite them as we drive!) and many of them also have made-up songs that we sing the words to, so she always recognizes the tunes and likes it. Obviously that doesn't last forever, but it is one more thing to add to the regular stuff like toys and books for her to play with herself. We also sing a lot - sometimes her favorite songs, sometimes regular songs we like, or we turn on the radio/CD and just listen to music, which she looooooves. We find singing helps distract and entertain her and keep her from howling with boredom, moreso than just talking to her. Or maybe they make children's books on tape or CD with a cheerful, animated voice doing the reading??? That might be worth checking into. Also she has a little portable toy radio thing that plays alphabet and counting songs, that works well, unless yours is the type to insist on you pushing the button for each song, and if there is not an extra adult to sit in the backseat with the child then that won't work. Also make lots of stops so your child can get out of the car, walk or run around, at least a little, in the gas station parking lot so she doesn't get too squirmy being in the seat forever...good luck!



answers from Lafayette on

Find some DVD's that she really likes and get a DVD player for the car. Keep snacks in the car and maybe some child music.

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