Long Road Trip!!

Updated on May 31, 2007
A.M. asks from Oceanside, CA
21 answers

Hello fellow moms, My husband and I are going on a road trip with our 23 month old very active boy. I am looking for ideas to keep him occupied during the drive. He does not like to be in his car seat at all!!! I know we are crazy for even attempting this, but we are hoping he will behave!! Any ideas would be helpful!! THANK YOU!!

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answers from Fresno on

Hi A.!
Last year, I took my two-year-old twins on a car trip to Seattle...the dvd player was great! But we ended up taking longer to get there, staying over in Medford and multiple stops along the way. When we headed home...I just packed them up and headed out of Seattle at 10 pm and drove all night! They were sleeping most of the way! We stopped only if we needed to and it cost us much less than getting a hotel room again! We are going again in June and I plan to leave late in the day or early evening...that way there is no car-sickness or fussiness because they are sleeping! Luckily, this trip I'll have driving help!
Good luck!



answers from San Francisco on

I think all the advice so far is good, DVD, food books and new toys and try the benadryl, however I would try it first before the car trip as it sometimes has the opposite effect. I have one kid who totally passes out and the other gets hyper.
Good luck

More Answers



answers from San Francisco on

I might get some flack for this one but I know well how a toddler can be on a long roadtrip - my husband and I recently took our 18 month old on a drive to Las Vegas where my husbands family lives. She is very big and very stubborn, and HATES being in the car, so this is what I brought along:

-PORTABLE DVD PLAYER with some favorite tv shows and movies (we would have NEVER made it without these)
-Big bag of favorite toys that was accessable to her (I put it on the seat next to her)
-lots of snacks, special drinks
- childrens benadryl: my daughter will not sleep in the car because she hates the seat so much, so when it was time for her to get some shut eye, I dosed her with a teaspoon of benadryl (my ped said it was fine) so that she had no choice but to sleep.

Ask your son what HE wants to bring in the car as well, so he feels like he is having some control in the matter too.



answers from Los Angeles on

I would drive with my daughter from New Mexico to California every 6 months before moving back to California in 2005. If i could I would travel at night to avoid the fussing. She would sleep the whole way through. Movies, toys, games, coloring books, you could even take turns sitting with him in the back seat. Hope all works out!!



answers from Des Moines on

Hi I am K. -

i have a 3 yo daughter who is very active also. We take a portable DVD player w/ movies & her favorite CD's and play thise in the car. I also take tons of her favorite toys, .... car, dolls, books. If you have a Leap Pad for kids or something like this it has helped us. We have taken her several times a year to visit family on 12-14 hour car trips. My daughter NEVER mnaps so the movies help us!



answers from Los Angeles on

#1- If you can afford it, buy a Britax seat before you go. We have taken my son from Southern California to Northern Oregon/ Southern Washington twice now. He has NEVER complained about the long trip. We also travel from Anaheim area to Temecula area about once a month. He LOVES is car seat! They have a lot of convertibles that go to 65 lbs with a 5 point harness. (Many convertibles rated to 65 lbs expect you to use the regular shoulder strap seatbelt after 40-45 lbs.) (Babies"R"Us has The Britax® Marathon Convertible Car Seat - New Denim for $250 right now.) $250 may seem like a lot when you're about to take a road trip, but it is a long term investment in your son's safety as well. Britax is one of the best rated brands available in the U.S. It is, and ALWAYS will be, my top pick for car seat brands.

#2- Books, bubbles (the tiny one's), and a NEW (at least to him) interactive toy. We went to Children's Orchard before our last trip and bought one of those "pretend to drive" toys for about $5. We also took turns sitting next to him when he was bored. We also took a container with a handle that all the loose toys would fit in. I think we picked it up in the craft section at Wal-Mart for $6 or $8. We put his special Teddy Bear (he named it Buddy), a coloring book, crayons, and a few misc. toys in it. It was very helpful during the nights in the hotels.

#3- Pack at least 2-3 days worth of CAR friendly snacks, and keep them where the non-driving adult can access them at any moment with out pulling over. If the car stops, he will want to get OUT. Once he's out, it will be about 45 minutes to an hour before you will get him back in. Goldfish, crackers, apples (w/ a wedger), cheese sticks in the cooler with juice boxes and mini waters... You only need enough for a few days, as (amazingly enough) grocery stores are available nation wide. :) These snacks should be sufficient for you and hubby as well.

#4- Don't over pack the diapers. Just be sure you have enough for 2-3 days at a time. How ever long the small pack lasts. Diapers are about the same price no matter where you go, so you don't need to pack a 14 day supply.

#5- Last but not least, pull over and let him, you, and hubby stretch after his nap and about every 4 waking hours. This is good for you guy's as well as your son. Sitting for too long will cause all of you to become restless at night, which means NO ONE gets to sleep well. When you know the 4 hour mark is getting close, start looking for the rest stop. They're free, have plenty of grass (usually), and restrooms. (I also recommend stocking up on some toilet liners and packing a roll of TP, just in case.) We also had a bigger bubble that we used at these stops and a blanket so we could "picnic" if there were no benches, or only gross ones.

Sorry it's so long, but I hope it helped. Have a great trip and take plenty of pictures. If you use a digital camera you can take it to a Walgreens and they'll save the pictures to a cd for about $3. I believe Wal-mart and Target do it too, but I don't know how much they charge. That way you can dump the pictures on the camera mid trip if you need too. Hope you have plenty of AWESOME memories from this experience~ J.



answers from Fresno on

Hi A.,

I just returned from a road trip to Oregon, with an active 1.5 year old! There were two adults and him and his car seat with us. Kinda cramped but he was an angel. His mom and dad got one of those tv's that fit on the back of the seat and he was glued to dvds the whole trip. The little personal DVD player is about $150 at Costco. Hope it helps. Good luck!




answers from Los Angeles on

PORTABLE DVD PLAYER!!!! stories on cd/tape. We wouldn't even attempt a long distance drive without the DVD player! Works great for my son who is now 5, but we got the DVD player when he was about a year and half. Also, be sure to make pit stops to stretch the legs & let the little guy run around! Good luck.



answers from San Francisco on

Someone once told me that just a box of bandaids goes a long way in the car. kids love to open them and stick them on their bodies and it will keep a toddler entertained for quite a while. I thought it was a great idea for a long car ride. Of course you have a bit of a mess to clean up, but for silence I think it's worth it! We have been taking our 2 year old twins on long road trips since they were born and they have always done amazingly well. A Portable DVD player is invaluable, a definite must have! And of course a box of oreo cookies never hurt anyone.

Good Luck



answers from Reno on

It's hard for us adults cause we are tired too, but traveling at night when it is their sleeping time has somewhat helped for us. Other than that, we bought new toys so it was something he had never seen. Make sure to keep him hydrated!



answers from Sacramento on

Hi A., I have a 22 month old son and i have found that a few things work like magic to keep him calm during long rides:

1)Crayola Color Wonder markers/paper
they sell them in travel size, too, perfect for the car and he can't write on anything else!

2)Gerber Grads. Fruit snacks.

3)A Magnadoodle. they also come in travel sizes

4)toys that light up for night time travel



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi A. ~ What i did on my first road trip with my kiddos is surprise them with a new backpack filled with goodies, activities, snacks, dumb dumb lollipops, hot wheels, plush toy, new blankie, new coloring books. I hid the backpacks until i reallly needed them :) then what a happy carfull of kids i had after about an hour when i surprised them all with their very own backback filled with surprises! and of course a good ol DVD system or portable DVD player with some favorite movies or learning programs is always an easy fix! :) Have a fun time!



answers from San Francisco on

I don't know how you feel about DVD players and videos, but on a long car ride it can really save your trip! We took one on a 500 mile road trip and didn't pull it out until he started getting squirmy about 2 1/2 hours in. The other tip is to leave in the middle of the night so he will probably sleep for a little bit. Good luck!



answers from Los Angeles on

maybe try reading some books with your little guy about going on vacation in the car. Talking about what you might see on the way. I know you said he is only 23 months but talking and showing pictures and preparing him as much as possible. I'm sure you thought of this DVD player.
Well Good Luck and drive safe.
A. M.
mommy of 3.



answers from San Luis Obispo on

Dear A.,

My grandson had to take his two children 3 1/2 and 1 1/2 on a very long road trip. He took frequent stops to run around in parks or rest areas, snacks there too, and then stayed for an hour or so. Then they could take a nap, and stopping about 4:00 in the P.M. for the night. I know, that is expensive, but maybe it would work. Also, you could rest during the day and drive mostly at night when they are sleeping. He was on a very short budget, but he did buy one of those DVD players, and that helped a bit, but he had to make changes in their activity often. Can you make the adult seat belts fit around him so that he can lay down in the back seat? Crazy idea, but I have always wondered about that. When you get older you tend to start to think of how to rest in almost any situation. Babies need that rest too, in a cozy pillow like environment and blanket-bed like thing in the back seat. Maybe you can invent one and patent it and help out other parents. Of course, you could have a cache of new toys or older ones that he hasn't played with for a long time. Water, water, water. and good luck. My husband and I took our two on a very long trip when they were young and we did stuff like that. They were 5 and 3 at the time. (In a small Volkswagen)
C. N.



answers from San Francisco on

Hi A.,
I went on a long road trip with my daughter when she was around that age and what I did was brought along her CD's and we turned it up and partied the whole way. When we stoped to eat we made sure we made time to let her run around. She also took her naps...they were a little longer than normal to because of the car motion. Make sure you have a comfy car seat. We have the kind that adjust, it leans back for naps. Just remember to make time for the extra stops. Have fun!!!



answers from San Francisco on


We took quite a few trips over the last year and the survival kit I carry includes- books, a new toy, lots of snacks, sippy cup, the portable DVD player, and the most important thing is my singing voice. My daughter is 20 months and she loves to try to sing with me. It can turn her cries into laughter.

Good luck, oh, and if at all possible, try to schedule your drive times early or late, so that you maximize sleep time.

Have fun!



answers from Las Vegas on

Do you have a portable DVD system? We didn't, but we used our laptop and set it in on the armrest in the frontseat so our daughter could watch it. We brought Baby Einstein and Elmo DVDs, and she was perfectly content to watch those. They have cords you can get at Best Buy that plug into your cigarette lighter and then you can plug your laptop into that so you don't run low on batteries. It was a life saver for us, and we drove from South Carolina to Nevada with our 1 year old. Also used it again for our 5 hour drive to San Diego and she's 21 months old now.



answers from San Francisco on

Hi- several times a year we make the 8 hour drive to San Diego w/our 2 boys: 6.5 yrs & almost 2. Our older so is great in the car & has been since about 2. He totally entertains himself. Not the case w/our younger son. He now watches movies (we have a van w/a DVD player) but still gets antsy. I agree w/the other moms....bag of new toys & movies, plenty of snacks & drinks but also, try to stop frequently for stretching & running about. Depending on where your're going, maybe there will be some points of interest along the way....probably more interesting for you & hubby! I used to have this idea of the length of time it 'should' take me to get to there but had to get it in my head that our younger son just needs to get out. So, I had to let go of getting there in a certain time frame. Good luck & have fun!



answers from Modesto on

There are a few things that you can do:
1. Bring his favorite blanket and a few toys that are easily

2. If you can purchase one of those activity toys to the car seat,
do it!

3. Get a mirror set up so your son can see you if he is still rear
facing, or even just for him to look at since most babies love
looking at themselves.

4. A baby book that can deal with some slobber, and chewing.

5. If you have to, sit in the back seat with him, and if you
drive, have dad sit next to him.

6. Sing songs such as Old MacDonald, Itsy-Bitsy-Spider, ect..

7. Bring a variety of music, including classical music.

8. Read a book or two, or three. Even if you just bring one book,
that is fine. You can read it over and over and your baby will
love it.

9. Get out every once in awhile. Go to rest stops, viewing spots,
tourist attractions that are short with lots to look at, and
walk around a bit.

10. Have Fun!!! ^.^

My husband and I have been taking our son on road trips since he was a baby. I think our longest rip was when we went to LA from the Stockton area which was about eight hours. We even took him on a train ride that lasted two days! All of these tips have helped us greatly! We don't even have a DVD player in the car, and these ten tips have always worked.... Even though he is seven now and some of those tips don't apply. lol
Well have a wonderful time, and enjoy your trip! Get your son prepared before you go. Check out some books from the library about going on vacation, traveling in cars, and one about where you are going. Get him excited like you are about going on vacation. ^.^

M. *~



answers from Sacramento on

Hi A., I don't know if you are O.K. w/ the DVD player or not. Our first long road trip was w/ my daughter when she was 21 mos. I had a strict no T.V./movie rule until the age of 2. Now with my second daughter I am not as strict, I would have probably just done the DVD player. If you do the backpack I would recomend getting out new item each hour. Kids tend to get bored and or overwhelmed with too many choices. The best thing we did was to take a break about every 2hrs and went to rest stops w/ blanket and had snack and ran around for about 20min. It did extend the trip, however, I have found that not enough excersize/ too much T.V. causes tantrums and awful behavior in my little one. Good luck, have a safe trip.

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