Long Distance Car Travel with 18 Month Old

Updated on October 10, 2008
K.B. asks from Fort Myers, FL
8 answers

We will be driving cross country by car, plenty of prep time, we can take our time, thinking about driving at night so she will sleep and during the day she can run around a bit (she is very active) We went on a plane when she was 3 months, and was a perfect angel slept most of the way, crying only a min when she woke up. I was going to get the Alex Car Valet but it doesn't seem like it'd work with my car/ carseat. Any suggestions please?

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answers from Tampa on

Hi, K.

We drove to Ohio with our daughter when she was 20 months old. She's a very active "crazy" child so I was scared. We discussed driving at night but didn't know how to make that work. One or both of us would be exhausted during the day and trying to entertain a well-rested energetic toddler. You can't check into most hotels very early, so when would the driver sleep? etc. So we drove during the day.

The best days were when we got her up earlier than usual and got right on the road. Then she's sleep for an hour or two, until we were all ready for the first bathroom break. Then we'd drive for a couple more hours until lunch time. We'd eat at a fast food with a play area or try to find a park or somewhere for her to play and burn off some energy. Some days we stopped at a local attraction like an aquarium.

After lunch, she'd take her 2 hour nap in the car. Then we'd take a break before driving until dinner. Ideally, we'd be at our hotel for the night by then, but sometimes there was still a bit of driving left to do. We booked hotels with pools and let her swim every evening to tire her out.

During the drive, I took several kids CDs she knew so we could sing/clap/etc. along with the music. I often sat in back with her while Daddy drove and read stories, played games, etc. I tried to hold off on the DVD player until close to dinner time and limit it to an hour or so, but that didn't always work. She also liked me playing with puppets and doing games (like playing "giddy up") with her stuffed animals. She was strapped in, but seemed to enjoy living vicariously through them. lol

One additional piece of advice: use diaper ointment at every stop. They're so tightly strapped into the car seat that they can barely move and easily get sore. The ointment helped prevent sore spots and diaper rash.

I hope this helps some. It will definitely take longer to drive with a toddler, but it is do-able was not nearly as bad as I'd feared! lol

P.S. Are you the K. I know from the MP group?



answers from Lakeland on

I have 3 words for you: portable DVD player!

We did a big move from Canada to Florida with a 3 year old and a not-quite-18-month-old. They did surprisingly well IMO, even though it took 4 days.

We seemed to get on a schedule of some TV in the morning, play with toys, sing songs, lunch, nap, TV, toys, rest stop, singing, dinner, TV, bed.

It's a lot of TV, but this is survival, not a regular day, so I think it's okay.

Driving at night or really early is a good idea, but my girls don't sleep well in their carseats, so we couldn't do that. Although, one time we put them in the car at 5am and got a good 2-3 hours of driving in before they woke up and we stopped for breakfast. That worked great.

Good luck! It will probably go better than you think.



answers from Tampa on

If you don't have one already invest in a portable DVD player. I have six children; my oldest is almost 15 and it has been my lifesaver. We typically take summer car trips that last from three to five weeks and couldn't travel without it. Our big rule with the videos is that if the movie is on for an hour it is off for an hour. When my children were smaller we also had lots of kid songs and short stories (as they got older) that they could listen to. Good luck



answers from Tampa on

Music Music Music. My 13 mo old son loves listening to music in the car. When we are taking a longer trip, I stock up on music cd's and musical instruments. We all sing really loud and get into the music and we play instrumens along the way. This last almost an hour. Iwould also suggest stopping as much as your trip deadline allows at a rest stop and chase each other around. Good Luck



answers from Tampa on

I've heard Baby Einstein DVD's and a DVD player work wonders.



answers from Tampa on

We do a lot of long distance traveling (FL to MI) and my kids have been different ages. Driving at night works wonders! Driving during the day works, especially if you are not on a time crunch. Find things she likes to play with, and be ready to stop at rest areas and let her run around. Play with her, chase her and wear her out, then you can get in a few more hours before she will most likely get restless again. But it is also good for them at that age to learn to sit still for long periods of time. When she gets restless, go an extra half hour or so (longer each time), that way she doesn't expect you to stop every time she wants to. This worked well with my kids, and now them travel with few complaints and use their imagination for play a lot more! Good Luck.



answers from Tampa on

Whenever we've traveled long distance, we gathered lots of arsenal to help keep the troups entertained. One of the smartest moves was getting a portable DVD player and picking up a couple of new DVDs (or at least new to them--save a buck and borrow/trade a few with friends). Be sure to save them just for the trip and pull them out when you really need them...it'll be a nice surprise. We also picked up some new kids music CDs, books and musical/light-up toys and stashed them in an activity bag. (Again, borrow or trade!) Involve her in the planning and have her help pack some of her favorite things. Sing her favorite songs. Play games like I Spy. And, talk about where you're going, what you'll do and who you'll see when you get there. It's also helpful to have a variety of snacks available. Hope that helps. Have a safe and happy trip!



answers from Tampa on

Hi, I recommend driving at night. Try to wear her out as much as possible for stops :) My son is almost 16 months & it helps! We are flying Thursday & I am hoping he sleeps (ha! :)

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