Ideas in Getting from Point a to Point B with Peace?

Updated on May 30, 2009
H.M. asks from Cleveland, TN
23 answers

I'm needing some thoughts on how to keep a one year old (14 mo.) "happy" on a 10 - 12 hour road trip when the "entertainer" is the one driving.. if that's possible! :) My precious, lovable punkin' of a daughter turns into.. something else, when it comes to the car as she hasn't ever liked being in her car seat (that's putting it mildly) but since my hubby normally drives when we go away, I'm able to sit close to her to help her make the trip by entertaining her and taking care of her needs. Plus, our older kids are normally with us to take their turn at boosting her mood. But this time, for the first time, I'm seriously thinking (but just might have to change my mind) about making a trip on my own with her and my 4 yr old son this summer to visit my parents (hubby & older kids have other plans) and I'm nervous about how to make it to our destination without us all losing our sanity! She's known to cry all the way to the store 10 minutes away even when I know her physical needs are taken care of... I'm thinking it's just that she gets bored easily as she's very inquisitive and loves to explore rather than being strapped down. I've bought activity toys to keep her distracted but they don't keep her interest long once she's figured them out. Even my sweet son has tried, and occasionally succeeded, at entertaining her and making her laugh but he can only do this so long. I don't have anyone else that could go with me to help (and flying there is not an option) so I do plan on stopping every 2 hrs, more or less as needed, to let both of them "stretch their legs".. and even if I lose my nerve and don't go (which would make me and my extended family sad), it'd be great to have some thoughts/suggestions anyways just so maybe I wouldn't dread running errands around town with her (as "Taxi driver" is one of my many labels)! Your input is greatly welcomed and appreciated!

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answers from Charlotte on

I like many others suggest a portable DVD player that attaches to the back of the headrest. I have a 4 year old boy and a 19 month old daughter. Both love The Wiggles at that age and I would suggest a Wiggles DVD. Lots of singing, lights, action and colors.
Best of luck to you!



answers from Raleigh on

Is driving at night an option? That is what we have to do with my DD. She is a TERRIBLE car rider so we pack the car all up, get her ready for bed and then put her in the car seat instead of her crib. It takes her a little bit to fall asleep but she eventually gets there and usually stays asleep the rest of the way.

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answers from Fayetteville on

Things I used to do:
+Driving at night or into the night,
+stopping frequently, like every 2 hours, and then making the kids run around, chase a ball, really make them have good exercise and a work-out, get them out of breath, then they are likely to be happy to sit still for a while and possibly take a little nap (and it helps you too, as the driver, to be active and running around and having a real break from the sitting behind the wheel; just don't take a nap yourself after you get back into the car ;-) )
+story and song tapes (or CDs) from the library;
+a big bag of little toys, paper and crayons, etc, that is a travel bag only, meaning those items are not available at home;
+including some books from the library (new and interesting) and a few favorites (familiar and comforting).
+I bet the four-year old could "read" some of those familiar books to the younger sibling...
+playing "I spy" games with them, guessing games, those can be adjusted for the ages you are dealing with
+making up a long story where each person in the car gets to contribute a sentence or two in turn
+singing songs
+making up songs
+telling them old stories about family members you will be seeing soon
+ count how many red (white, blue, green...) cars you see
+count how many trucks you see
+the older one may be able to spy license plates from different states and keep track of those, and if he is excited enough the younger one will be excited and distracted, too
+draw a rough map of your route from point A to B, with some landmarks every so often (be that rest stops, cities, highway intersections, whatever makes sense) and then the older one can mark them off when you hit those (you may need to remind or help them recognize them), and that way both will have a visual on how you are progressing towards the final destination

I found the most important thing was to mix things up, to not rely on one way for too long or exclusively, to keep it interesting, and to break the journey into segments with the stretch breaks, snacks and the map, if you use that.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Omaha on

I did this in October with my then 13 month old except for an 18 hour drive!!! This is what worked for me. :)

1.) Who cares when we get there, this is all for fun. Enjoy each stop like an adventure. (I like a good 'ole road trip anyway) Don't tell people b/c then they will just be bugging you until you show up, and adding stress too. Just call them a few hours before you will get there and they will be more than happy to take you in.

2.) Play stops: I luckily had friends about every 4 hours along the way, but also I used my navigation system to locate up coming parks when I could sense a need to stop. Those were great. Cute small towns with swings what more could we want!?! ;)

3.) I brought two baby einsteins just in case as a last resort, but you may need to just go with good old Nemo. I'm not a TV watcher for my kids, but it is way better than shot nerves while driving. :)

4.) Mine was still napping twice then, so I definitely would try and 'schedule' a play break right before so she would pass out in the car. Make sure to have gassed up before that though, the last thing you want is her to fall asleep for 30 minutes and then you have to stop and wake her up!

5.) For your older child you may want to make up some kind of game.. like a scavenger hunt that he is searching for along the way.

Blessings to you,

*Always start the trip with a prayer in the car!!! Ask God to just help you get there safely and with sanity! For him to keep the roads clear and the vehicle working.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wheeling on

Our youngest of 4 (now almost 21) decided early on that she didn't like car trips (usually 3-4 hour trips to my sister's). About the 3rd or 4th trip we went (when she was 6-8 months old) we decided that this was it. I made sure she was dry, fed, warm/cool enough, and comfortable (as some kids are more sensitive to wrinkles in their clothes, tightness of their seat straps, etc) and we started off. She started crying after about 45 minutes, and we just let her cry. She cried for quite some time (it always seems longer than it actually is, LOL, and I can't remember as it's been so long ago!), then she went to sleep. We never had any more trouble with her on trips once she learned that she wasn't getting out of that seat. If you could do this on a shorter road trip before the actual LO-O-O-NG one, it may help -- along with the other suggestions you've received.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wilmington on

I agree with the posters who suggested the portable DVD. We regularly take trips that are 6-12 hours and it has been a lifesaver! One suggestion I would make is to have DVD's that contain a lot of music/action with a lot of colors that will hold the child's attention. We LOVE the Backyardigans DVD's for travel because the songs are super catchy (even I like them!), the bright colors hold my son's attention and there are 4 episodes on each DVD. I have tried putting on Shrek or Nemo in the car, but he seems to get tired of them after about 15 minutes...not the case w/Backyardigans-he'll sing along and he even sometimes will try to say the dialogue with the characters.
Good Luck!



answers from Clarksville on

My worst travelers have always responded well to music. Not all music will work with them, but we have found a wide variety of things that keep them pacified even on very long trips. Before you take your trip start testing different types of music with her to see if anything calms her down. We have a 9 month old who cries inconsolably (at home and in the car) quite a bit, and even he responds well to songs of all kinds. It does not have to be sappy kid music either, so don't feel confined to things that are going to make you as insane as the crying. Some that have worked well for us are the kids' albums done by They Might Be Giants (Here come the ABC's, Here Come the 123's, and No). We actually don't mind listening to these over and over. Soundtracks from different musicals are fun, too. Our kids really enjoyed listening to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, even though they had never seen it before. If your daughter likes stories, you might also consider audiobooks, although I don't know if there are many for kids out there. However, if you are adventurous, you might consider making your own by recording yourself reading her favorite books, and perhaps it will comfort her to hear your voice even though you can't be back there with her.

At any rate, I hope your trip will go smoothly. Good luck!



answers from Charlotte on

If your little one is a good sleeper, drive at night. You will just have to prepare yourself to stay awake the whole way...



answers from Louisville on

How do you react when your one year old starts crying at being put into her car seat? Do you stress? We know she gets extra attention from everyone in the car. Sounds like she is right where she wants to be ... and she has everyone in the car right where she wants them, too!

I know it is not easy to let her cry but you said "even when I know her needs are being met." That indicates a temper tantrum. How do you treat temper tantrums on "dry land"? Do you take extra care to coddle the tantrum thrower? Of course not! So why would you do so in the car? Give your older toddler picture books, Baby Einstein, or other electronic games to play on the trip or give him a headset and music CDs of his own. Stuff earbuds in your ears and listen to an MP3. Give your daughter travel toys to play with and, if she doesn't want to, that's her choice and you can tell her so. Focus on your driving. There are enough dangers on the road without having your one year old distracting you.

Someone had the superb suggestion to use a GPS and stop in small communities along the way to take breaks, enjoy the trip, let the kids get out and stretch and burn off some energy at a playground, get something to eat before hitting the road again. Chances are, your daughter - and son - will end up snoozing for a lot of the trip, especially of you let them burn off enough energy at the playground.

TIP: Don't start your trip first thing in the morning. Consider taking a nap during the day and starting out at night, preferably after dd is asleep and can be slipped into her car seat while snoozing. This is the time when the kids are normally asleep anyway and they may be inclined to sleep their way (and yours) through the majority of the trip!



answers from Parkersburg on

What about a portable DVD player? You can strap them to the headseats and should be able to rent quite a few dvd's for the trip (if you don't already have many).

I've been wondering about this myself and this is the only thing I can think of for our future trips. We haven't went more than 6hrs total since our almost-1-yr-old was born, and not more than 1hr-1/2 since she was 3mnths....We have a portable DVD player that we will try. I know when I was little, my mom would have loved to have been able to have a van with a tv - but it's so much easier and cheaper now with today's tech.

Plan your timing wisely, too. Make sure you pick a time to leave when she will sleep well for at least a little bit (if she is able to sleep in the car... maybe if she is tired enough, she will sleep in the car anyway).

What about a hotel to split your trip in two?

Good Luck!!!



answers from Jackson on

Our latest road trip was the best yet when we used the Taby Tray. It kept our daughter busy for hours. She was able to use it for snacks as well as having a surface to play on. I love the cupholder and crayon holders, as I am not having to pick these up from the floor anymore. She even drew on it with crayon and we could wash it off with soap/water. Great for short trips also.

The tray is sturdy and very simple to attach. It works great on our stroller as well --- we use it at the mall --- makes shopping/eating there enjoyable!!!

I will be buying another when when we have our next one, as I will have 2 kids close in age to contend with!

You can get them at for the cheapest online. Hope this helps.



answers from Raleigh on

I am sure you have already thought of singing but this works for us. Not quite sure how well this will work with the older kids in the car unless you can get them all involved- or better yet- get one of them to help entertain her... but our son loves this when we drive to Grandma's house 6 hours away- we sing songs that are repetitive and give him the job of saying the words that repeat- for example- The Ants go Marching- he repeats the Hurrah, Hurrah each time. We do this with lots of songs.

good luck.



answers from Raleigh on

I would check to see if the car seat is comfortable for her. If it is a previously used car seat maybe it has gotten a little worn down on the padding or molded to the shape of the previous occupant.

Other than that, I have found a portable DVD player to be a lifesaver. I would check BJ's or Sams for the best deal.

Good luck!



answers from Louisville on

drive at night when they normally sleep leave at 10 pm and drive all night. it works wonders just make sure you get a good nap in before you head off and stop if you get tired



answers from Lexington on

Hi-I ahve traveled for 18 hrs. w/ 5 kids under 7 yrs. old. Here are my tricks:
-drive as much at night or early morning as possible,
-DVD player-you can rent the Redbox movies and return to anyother redbox, great for having several different new movies,(can get on Redbox website and find rental locations)
-variety of snacks
-watch bilboards for McDonalds w/play areas
-fix treat bags w/ new small toys, stickers, crayons, small playdoh, etc. fix several and when they are bored w/ one pull out another
I do not recommend splitting the trip up into two days, the break is great for the driver but the next morning the kids dread getting back in that car seat.
Good luck and don't give up!



answers from Knoxville on

Have you tried children's music in the car? Your local library likely has many choices. Also, what about books on tape? Again, the local library has children's books on tape. Can you tether toys to the carseat to keep you from trying to "find" toys while driving? What about magnets on a cookie tray? This is popular with a lot of children.



answers from Nashville on

there is a natural baby calmant that is available. I am not sure of the name as I never used it, but had a friend that swore by it. It takes the edge off, and they stay calm for up to 4 hours. Perhaps get hubby to watch kids that day so you could rest, and drive at night. She would probably sleep most of the trip. Set out shortly after feeding, perhaps the 4 year old can entertain until she gets tired, then she would sleep most of the trip. Do you have a laptop that you could show a cartoon or something to entertain??? 1 movie will last the trip if it is colorful and noisy!??!?!? Good luck and God bless you and keep you safe on your journey.



answers from Louisville on

Don't try to entertain your toddler. Ignore, ignore, ignore. Kids need to learn to deal with the bordem. It helps their imagination.

Check the carseat. Sometimes buckels and straps from the latch system get stuck behind the cushion and cause serious discomfort. Check the angle of the recline, maybe it hurts her neck. Try a different seat and see if that helps. Padding gets worn out with time and fabric gets hot and scratchy. We love our Britax marathon and our Graco Nautilus.

Make sure she can see out the window and encourage her to explore the scenery with her eyes.

Observe her in the seat carefully and see if you can figure out why she's miserable.



answers from Lexington on

I strongly recommend driving at night. We usually start a few hours before dinner, if we can, then make a stop for dinner. Then you can entertain for an hour or two, make another stop, then it should be bedtime.

I also suggest being upfront and honest with your family and see if they can watch the kids in the morning while the adults catch up on some missed sleep while driving.

My 1 year old enjoys music, so when there's lots of car time around town, I hold out as long as he'll let me, then put on his music and we sing and "chair dance." We have "The Best of Elmo" on video and CD, so he knows the songs well and gets excited to hear them in the car.

Good luck and let us know how it works out.



answers from Johnson City on

mine are not quite that young but they are 4 5 nd 6 and we took a 12 hour trip last may to ny when my brother was being deployed and we went and got a portable dd player and that was a complete life saver hope you find something that works


answers from Charleston on

My first trip alone with my baby was suppose to be 8 hours... it turned into almost 14! And many after that with the time getting shorter and shorter each time. But it is still a process. I try to time driving around naptimes. Stopping for lunch during the waking hours and letting him play for a bit. Then it's back in the dreaded seat. Our guy is almost 16 months now and our last trip, a twelve hour move, we discovered the wonders of the portable DVD player. We still have small issues as I'm sure most parents will tell you that you just never know how it's going to go, but we've gotten our travel times down to no more than an hour and a half longer than what the drive should take. I have faith that you can travel alone with your little one. It may not be all that much fun and you may cry most of the way there (like I did the first 3 times), but frequent stops and plenty of snacks will help. Good luck!



answers from Fayetteville on

I feel for you! I really do! Have you thought about taking the drive at night when she's usually asleep? If you take a late night trip, you can use lights as a fun way to pass the time. My son loves to make shadows on the walls at home with a flashlight propped up for him. You can probably find a light up toy that shoots out different colors of light that both of your kids can enjoy. My son also likes to learn about the constellations. Check out a discovery/learning website for some ideas. Good luck to you!



answers from Charlotte on

Okay H., take a deep breath and relax. What your are wanting to do is something that can either be a good trip or a bad trip depending on how you handle it. First and foremost I want to encourage you and let you know you can do it. I took my then, nine month old son to Disney World (a 10 hr drive) in November. He had just started walking and wanted to get into everything so I knew I had to plan ahead. First and foremost you need to remember that it is a 10-12 hour trip without baby, with baby the trip ends when you get there however long that may be. With that said - here's what I did to get through my long trip with my son. First, I left way early in the morning - about 3:00 a.m. so that my son selpt most of the way there. He slept until 8:00 a.m. at which time we stopped and ate breakfast. After breakfast we drove for about an hour and a half and then stopped at a rest stop and let him out to wonder around for about 15-20 minutes. In between stops we provided him different toys that would occupy him for about 20 minutes at the most. Then we would point outside and show him trees and the clouds, and cows, and horses and that seemed to keep him busy until we stopped at the next rest stop. We made a point of stopping every one and a half to two hours - giving him a snack, time to explore, and then back in the car for more driving. You say your daughter cries from being in the car-seat for more than 10 minutes. Is she facing forward or is she still facing rear as this can make all the difference. Also, from now until time for you to take your trip try teaching her how to behave in her car seat. Be creative instead of trying to distract her from the obvious (you know being trapped). Make riding in the car fun for her whatever way you can think of. If you know there are certain things that she will like - then - incorporate those into your trip. Taking a long trip with little ones is no walk in the park but remember if you plan ahead you will be fine and you can do it.

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