Road Trip with Toddler and Baby

Updated on June 04, 2007
M.E. asks from Evansville, IN
13 answers

In a couple months we will be taking a long road trip (to Gulf Shores) with my entire family (grandparents, aunt, uncles, cousins). This will be the first time we've traveled by car with our 2 kids. My son will be 3 at that time and our daughter will be 5 months. I'm very worried about the trip, any tips/advice on how to handle this would be great! Thanks!

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So What Happened?

Thank you all so much for the great ideas! I will buy alot of cheap new toys to give him and hope for the best. I'm not sure what time we are leaving but hopefully it will be at a time when they can sleep.

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answers from Jacksonville on

I've traveled LOTS with my boys. And long distnaces....days of driving. Don't forget the DVD player!! And if it's at all possible leave right before bedtime and drive at night so the kids will be sleeping to very early in the morning so they may still be asleep. ALSO....don't stop when the babies are sleeping. It never fails, everytime you stop someone will wake up. Wait to stop when they're awake. It'll make it so much smoother!

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answers from Evansville on

Hi M.,
You are going to have a fantastic vacation!
A few tips:
* If you can do it, drive through the night. The kids will sleep and your trip will be relatively painless. Just let them ride in their "jammies" and plan to stop for breakfast at a McDonald's with a play area to let your son play and get out a little energy. That should allow you to go the rest of the way easily.

* buy a dvd player for the car ....well worth every cent!

* have some benadryl on hand

* have some fun (usually off limits) snacks available to offer as special "treats" for your son

* pack familiar toys --don't forget the beach/sand toys!

* some kids music for the car

Hope this is helpful. I have traveled with my kids (and husband) since my oldest was 11 weeks old by car and plane. Have fun!



answers from Indianapolis on

My husband and I recently returned home from our family vacation to Florida. We traveled with our 18 month old daughter. It was her first long distance trip in the car. We could not have made that trip with-out a portable DVD player. It was a life saver. We will never travel without one.
Best of Luck!



answers from Jacksonville on

I agree with leaving as early as possible. That way you can get as far as you can while they are sleeping. Also we find it helpful to bring movies and toys that my kids have never seen or played with before. My daughter tends to get car sick so our pediatrician said that I could give her Benadryl. It helps with motion sickness and also made her a little groggy(quiet). I would ask your doctor about that first though. We have a 3 yr old and a 2 yr old, but we moved to Indianapolis from South Carolina almost 2 yrs ago. We started doing a 12 hour drive at that time...our son wasn't even 1 yet. Some other things we did were leaving after my husband got off work and drove half way at night. That way they slept and he would drink energy drinks and drive until 12 or 1am. Also if we did it in 1 day we would stop alot to let them run around, but they seemed more restless if we did it that way. They just expected to be able to get out all the time. You will have some stressful moments, but they will pass. Traveling with small kids really isn't that fun, but it can work. Good Luck.



answers from Kokomo on

i would recomend a portable dvd player. I took a road trip from indiana to walt disney world with, then my 3yr old and 8yr old. It works wonders. The trip went by fast and we didn't have alot of problems with them being uncomfortable in the car.



answers from Louisville on

Since I was ten, I have traveled to Gulf shores every year. Last year my oldest was 2 1/2 and the baby was 12 months. We went with my family and my husband's family. We left at 3 in the morning. The girls sleep until breakfast. We ate and let them run around. We brought movies, coloring books, books, and snacks. On the way down they were good until we hit traffic going into Gulf Shores, but we made it. On the way back we stopped once and made it home in 10 hours. The key is leaving as early as possible. Have fun and enjoy =)



answers from South Bend on

Hi M.,
We let our 3 yr old watch movies (both from our collection and from the library) and a couple of weeks before our trip I go to the Dollar store and a few other stores (I try to go by myself) and I pick up about 12 new things and I put them in a large bag and seal it with binders clips and out of his reach.

During our trip (I wait until he gets fussy and then I start to pull out something new about every hr or 2). When I give him a new toy, the "old" one gets put back in the bag until the trip home.

On our last trip I did slurge and he got new magnetic Thomas train book from Toys R Us, 'I Spy' books from the library, new coloring books, a lap size Thomas set with a clock and a bridge, window clings, viewfinder with Pooh and Cars, a fire chief playmobil (they have small pieces, so I really watch him), small trucks and cars, Cars magna-doodle, magnetic Cars book from Target, a small toy that he can push buttons on (I got him a Simon-but that didn't work on our last trip, he's still too young). Then during our drive I take a large plastic container lid, flip it upside down and let him use that as a table, which is handy because it already has a 'built in lip' to catch things.

We drive during the day, stop as little as possible (he gets really fussy when we try to put him back in his car seat after too many stops) and we stay at a hotel with a pool, half way through the trip. Our trips are usually about 12 hours and this has worked for us.

A great website
Good Luck :-)



answers from Lexington on

We just came back from Hilton Head SC with our 17 month old daughter. She has never really slept in the car (ugh!). We live by the portable DVD player! She really was content as long as we played cartoons. She slept all of 45 minutes on a 10 hour trip! If you don't have a DVD player, I would find some nice person to let you borrow one just for the trip. Also, we would stop at large malls off the interstate to let our toddler play in the indoor playgrounds to burn off energy. Rest stops are also good places to let your son run around. Hope this helps.



answers from Indianapolis on

We did a similar trip and drove through the night. The kids slept almost the entire time. The only bad thing is that it took about a day and a half to recover from being up all night! Good luck.



answers from Indianapolis on

When my oldest was my only, we went to the Gulf coast with my brother and sister in-law and thier child who was the same age as ours. The first time they were 5 months and the second time they were about 18 months. We had the men drive and we left at like 11pm so that everyone could sleep on the way down there. It was a 13 our trip for us so this made it much easier. Just make sure the drivers have had enough sleep the day before and they can help keep each other company. It turned out to be great trips for us, we haven't attempted it with our five all together yet though. I'm not that brave.



answers from Indianapolis on

First, let everyone know that you may need to stop every couple hours. Take coloring books and car games (look by regular games for travel games) like Car Bingo, also if he knows his letters, you can look for them on signs but many children don't know their letters at 3 years.
Do you nurse or formula feed? If you nurse, take a pump - either battery or car hookup or a simple hand pump - and try a bottle if she gets fussy and you don't want to stop again. She's at the age where she probably doesn't sleep in the car as well as she used to. Make sure she has toys to play with that attach to the car seat so they don't fall all the time.
You may need to sit in back with them some of the time just to keep them company.
Good Luck!!



answers from Indianapolis on

I (alone)have travelled this trip a thousand times with 4 children 10,6,2,and 6weeks old all the way to Mobile, AL from Indy. It can be done just plan to make frequent stops for stretching and potty breaks. The rest stops are the easiest to move around in. Take a potty seat, wipes, and lots of hand sanitizer. Pace yourselves don't be in any rush it will make for a much more pleasant trip.



answers from Indianapolis on

As much as I hated to admit it, my husband's idea of a portable DVD player was great! I've heard other parents swear by them, too. We drove 16 hours to Texas and once we started DVDs, hardly heard a peep out of our then 2 1/2 year old daughter (who was potty-trained). Good luck!

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