LONG Road Trip with 15 Month Old

Updated on August 18, 2010
N.F. asks from North Richland Hills, TX
20 answers

This is the official first long family road trip. We're driving from WA to TX. We can't fly because I'll be too far along in my pregnancy to fly back :( I need good suggestions and tips for traveling by car with a 15 Month old. We already have stops planned, but it's the time while driving I need some help on. I have no clue besides snacks and drinks and some toys(in which most will end up on the floor) to occupy our son. How do you mommy's out there keep your little ones entertained while on a road trip?

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answers from Seattle on


A DVD player is great! At that age, there are really good education dvd's he could watch. The leapfrog videos are great!
Color Wonders - he could color without making a mess :)
Special music just for him.
I would also get some of the toy "links" and attach some toys to it so you're not constantly having to pick stuff up off the floor.



answers from San Antonio on

Never been that long a trip. But when I traveled with my son at age 1 and again at age 2, we used the DVD player, plus somone sat in the back seat and read him books and played with him.

Found this website: http://www.momsminivan.com/babies.html AWESOME IDEAS on here. Also click on Toddler games and Big Kid games. Fun ideas on there.

I agree though -- I hear a lot of people say they travel at NIGHT so baby just sleeps.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

One thing we did with our son when we went on a 20+ hr car trip was to leave in the evening and then drive most of it at night. When it got dark outside we told him it was bedtime in the car and took away all entertainment and stopped talking and put on lullaby music so he would go to sleep. He slept all night which really gave us a break from having to entertain him.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I never tried to keep my son entertained while traveling unless we were on a plane. Instead... I just stopped fairly frequently for wiggle breaks. We'd average between 400 & 600 miles a day depending on whether or not we were driving though areas with a lot of construction (construction sloooooows things down bigtime). Here's what our road trips looked like in the same age bracket:

- Stay in hotel playing until 11am -12pm -aka latest checkout time (breakfast, pool, books, etc.)

- Eat "lunch" / "2nd breakfast" in the car at 11...

- From this point on we only ever stayed driving for 1 hour at a time While. Kiddo. Was. Awake. AKA... if he fell asleep we'd drive until he woke (typically 1-2 hours). When he woke, we'd stop at a place to play (either rest stop or restaurant), spend 15-60 minutes there, get back in the car and drive for an hour. Then pull over and play somewhere for 15-60 minutes. So it looked like this: drive, play, drive, play, drive, play. Since kiddo was only ever awake for 60 minutes in the car... no need to do any elaborate entertainment schemes.

- Meals at wakeup / 11am / 3ish/ 8ish + Jamma's. By eating at "off" times we got restaurants to ourselves. We'd typically do mcdonalds/burgerking at least once a day at mealtime PURELY for their play place.

- Drive straight as soon as "bedtime" after dinner until about midnight. Check in. Sleep in. Play in the morning... aka repeat.

Meal breaks would be our longest breaks (about 45-60 minutes) hourly breaks at rest stops were about 15 minutes.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

We check out books on tape (acutally CD) from the library, they also have kids music. If you use a DVD player it might be difficult to get your son out of the car to run around when you take a break. Plan on hourly stops when he is awake and driving as long as possible when he's asleep and you should do fine. The hourly stops will be good for you too as it's not fun/healthy to sit in one position for long periods of time during advanced pregnancy.



answers from Bellingham on

Definately a dvd player. Lots of snacks that wont be too messy just get yourself prepared for crumbs its a given. We usually take like goldfish or grahm crackers things of this nature. i take a bag of toys usually some of her favorites then try to get some new toys. You can go to the dollar store and get some stuff really inexpensive. Me and my husband usually take turns sitting in the back with her while the other one drives to entertain and then frequent stops.



answers from Seattle on

When the military moved my family last year (with 2 sons aged 3yrs and 12months), we traveled from Virginia to Washington (with a two week stay in Florida to visit grandparents). We were on the road traveling for 2 weeks! My little one made it apparent that he would not travel past 9 pm. It was a good time to stop, gave them a bit of time in the hotel to run off some energy, and within 15 min both would be asleep. We usually got back on the road around 9am, and both boys were good to go.

We made frequent fun stops. We stopped and saw lots of landmarks, visited Sea World, the Grand Canyon. Yes, we did go to McDonald's quite frequently, just to let the boys out and play even if we grabbed lunch somewhere else. We did buy a dual DVD player and it helped! I have everything from Disney DVD's (Toy Story has always been a favorite) to Elmo movies, and Thomas the Train, which has a fantastic option of Replay All. The stories just repeat and repeat, very hlepful if your little one falls asleep and will wake if the noise or movie changes.

We took lots of small toys with us. Hot Wheels are quite popular in my house. They are small, and not very expensive. If he enjoys presents, you can take some tissue paper and wrap some up, and when he gets fussy or bored with what he already has, give him a new present. He will enjoy unwrapping it and playing with something new. Also helpful is a small Magnadoodle. You dn't have to worry about any mess, or leaving the caps off of markers. I found that Colorwonder will leave a kind of "grease" stain on clothing and car interiors. You have gotten alot of good responses on here. I hope they help make your trip run smoothly.


answers from Medford on

color wonder markers and dvds. :)



answers from Seattle on

Are you travelling alone with your child? If not, we have found that it is easist for all of us if one adult sits in the back with our daughter to help entertain her. We also sing lots of songs, tell stories, and try not to stop when she is sleeping. Good luck



answers from Tulsa on

when you stop let him play in a play area for at least an hour. this plus a full belly and a clean diaper and sippy to boot will put him back to sleep in the car. I have done lots of long trips with a baby or toddler. 9 hrs or more. if you stop for gas and he is still asleep dont wake him up get gas and keep driving with the assumption you may have to make an out of the plan stop. just cause its planned if its not needed for other than gas dont do it. take him to an all you can eat get all of his favorites and let him eat to his hearts content. most likely he will go back to sleep. find lots of play areas mcdonalds or parks or rest stops and plan on being 30 min or longer probably longer to wear him out.

if he likes to play ball play him hard. make him do something physically tiring when stopped. climbing play chase whatever you have to do to drain him physically. feed him lots of protien it will keep him content longer and he will sleep better for longer periods of time. dont entertain him in the car entertain him out of the car and make it physical. make plans for unplanned stops just cause you think we will stop here for gas if your tank is full and he is asleep go to the next planned place plan one every hour but you wont need them all. you may be able to go 5 hours without one if your gas holds out. play it by ear and there is no rules or right or wrong.



answers from Portland on

If he is a car sleeper, you may find he sleeps along the way. We try to stay places along the way with a pool so our kids can burn off energy before going to bed.

I agree with the DVD player. He's only 15 months so maybe you haven't done much or any TV but this is a special circumstance and the novelty will make the entertainment last longer.

Have you used 'Red Box' for movie rentals before. They are located all over the country. You can return a rental to any location so if you rent along the way you just look for a location at your next stop. I've heard there is an iPhone app for finding a nearby location. You could also check the website for places along your route. I know they are at most McDonalds. Even if you don't eat there you can always find one for renting & returning.



answers from Seattle on

If you have a portable DVD player and then tape all his favourite programs. He'll think he is sitting right at home while travelling.... Wouldn't be without mine



answers from Chicago on

We take our 2 year old son on a four hr trip every other weekend in the summer. I'm sure your trip will be much longer but I have a bag full of toys that I bring. The toys are older and things he doesn't play with every day so they are more interesting to him. We of course have snacks and drinks ready to go. If you can plan the trip when your little one can nap/sleep that would take up some time. Some people swear by the DVD player in the car - if it will keep his/her attention. Sing songs, stop to stretch (although they may be crabbier to get back in the car seat after having been out of it). It may be a trip consisting of constant entertaining but I'm sure you'll get through it. Hopefully they'll sleep a lot. Good luck!



answers from Tulsa on

I sat in the back seat for a while then switched with hubby. It gives the kids a break from one or the other parent. We had a narrow long box that fit between the seats where her feet would normally be, and we kept favorite toys, books, etc...in hands reach. Singing songs is fun too so take some tapes or CD's, which ever your vehicle uses int he stereo. We borrowed books on tape/cd from our local library too.

Stopping every couple of hours is necessary. Even if it's just to run around in an elementary school yard. Babies have so much energy to be used up. Crying and having a temper tantrum is one way to deplete the energy build up, running around is another, I choose the running around...it's MUCH, MUCH less stressful.

Stopping at McDonalds, or a place with a playground inside appropriate for toddlers, to let her have some playtime is extremely important too, let her have a parfait for snack time or some apple dippers, it doesn't have to be chicken nuggets every time. We always figured we'd get one very healthy meal a day with peace and quiet, that was pleasant. We selected breakfast because it sets the tone for the day, gives your body the needed nutrients for the day, and the other meals will be more stressful due to people being tired and bored. Have an ice chest in the vehicle too, it can hold milk and juice and water so she can drink what she needs and not get dehydrated. Also fruit is a good thing to keep in the ice chest too, just on top of the ice with a had towel over the ice to keep it dry. One thing I always worry about is choke hazards. Please be cautious about the size of bites. Riding in a car is different. The motion of the car is there, we are used to it and little ones aren't. Using a knife in the car might be a no-no so think about using a plastic knife, a food chopper, or something else like an apple slicer with a very small cutting board to chop the fruits and/or fresh veggies. The smaller her bites the better off she'll be.

You will be happier to if you get a portable DVD player and put in a dvd of her favorite show, I bought some Nic-Picks from Wal-Mart and it has a whole slew of their top cartoons, one right after the other, just one top episode. Of Jimmy Neutron, Rugrats, SpongeBob, Danny Phantom, etc...they have all kinds. They are a few minutes long so the attention span is easy and they can be turned off after a few and restarted where you left off. You can also check and see if they have any from your local Educational channel, ours is called OETA, it's public TV. Sesame Street, Barney, Word Girl, etc...are shows that might be on DVD somewhere.


answers from Fayetteville on

Get a portable DVD player!!! It was a God send for us.


answers from Dover on

Try to do the bulk of the driving close to the little ones bed and nap times if at all possible. Do you have a portable dvd player...put entertaining and/or educational dvds to occupy your child.

We traveled w/ our 2 yr old. Drove almost straight through from DE to FL. Left around bed time for her. She woke around breakfast and then stayed awake but content the rest of the way.



answers from Atlanta on

Learn some tried and true nursery ryhmes by heart or if you already know some. You only need 3 or 4. They love hearing them over and over again. Learn some songs by heart, keep it simple. Pop goes the Weasel is still a fav. They love songs and such and it can do wonders. Playing very simple games, even peek-a-poo is still fun for them at this age and you can add variations to it. Just keep a sweet rythum to it. Keep a few simple small toys that are new or that he hasn't seen in a long time out of sight, hidden in your bag and saved for the perfect moment when he's almost had enough of traveling and can use something interesting and new to look at. Introduce it to him by playing a game of somethings hiding under the seat or behind or whatever fits. And of course a new book with beautiful soft pictures is always good. At this age they love picture books of other baby's faces, it'd be good to have a new one like this to pull out at a strategic moment. I wouldn't be surprised if it keeps him happy over and over again. Another idea that I have always found as lots of fun for trips and for many things: a puppet, something simple and sweet like a gnome or a little boy or lamb or something. They love when the puppet comes out to play and talk and sing to/with them. (You can get children to do all sorts of things without a bit of trouble when you have your handy puppet, it's not theirs to play with it is mine to bring out at the perfect times. We have a fairy grandmother who has her own little chair, that tells the children when it's story time and clean up time and she likes to watch as they draw and write, she speaks in my hear and I give her message to the children, we also have other puppets for other things. Wish I would've known how useful and charming this is long ago.) ~~Have a fun and safe trip.


answers from Detroit on

you will need to take a portable DVD player and/or kids bop cd it helps when they can listen to music or watch tv. also take frequent rest breaks just get out to shake you legs out and relax youself because driving can take a toal on your body.and while your out shaking your legs you can find small things to do like looking for landmarks . It's always the small things that they will remember:)



answers from Tucson on

get some kid songs cds , that have row row row your boat..etc on them..and start playing them now in the car so he learns them and likes them, my daughter is 17 months now and she still loves them!

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