Road Trip Essentials for Toddlers

Bottom line, a checklist of road trip essentials for your toddler is a must before you hit the road!

Let’s be honest mamas, if you have ever taken a long-haul road trip with a toddler you know that its either going to make you or break you, literally. The drive itself can be as much as an adventure as the destination itself!

Toddlers are not used to hours of driving and staying in one spot. That being said it can be expected that there be a few meltdowns of boredom and frustration. I can remember countless let’s hit the road moments that ended up with us turning the car around and just saying forget it.

With that being said, I was just completely unprepared and quickly became determined to make it to at least one vacation destination without throwing in the towel and keeping my sanity intact.

With a little bit of planning and prepping ahead of time you’ll find that a road trip with a toddler does not have to be a complete nightmare of meltdowns and messes. It can actually be quite enjoyable and memorable (in a good way).

So don’t throw in the towel just yet mama. Below are some extremely helpful tips and tricks to guide you on preparing for your road trip with a toddler so you’ll make it to your destination in one happy piece.

You do not have to save your family vacations for “when they are older, we can”. Start your memories now!

Road Trip Essentials for Toddlers

Road Trip Essential Tips for Toddlers

Your departure time is critical: One key factor to starting out your road trip with a toddler on a good note is timing when you plan to hit the road. I highly suggest setting your departure time when your little one is bound to be asleep or to hopefully fall asleep.

Leave in the wee early morning or the late night so that most of the trip with your toddler is taken up by sleep. It’s more likely you’ll have a cranky monster on your hands if you start your trip right when they are bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Pack the snacks: Snacks and drinks are a must if you’re taking a long trip with your toddler! But what do you pack? The best advice is to keep it simple and avoid snacks high in sugar, so they don’t hype your little one up.

It’s also helpful if the snacks are pre-packaged. That way you can hand them out individually and so their portioned properly.

If your little one is a messy eater (as most toddlers are) be sure to bring along extra bibs. That way it’s not a complete catastrophe of crumbs when you reach your destination. Here is a list of some ideas on what type of snacks to pack.

  • String cheese
  • Whole wheat crackers
  • Fruit and vegetable pouches
  • Granola bars
  • Pretzels
  • Drinkable yogurts
  • PB&J sandwiches
  • Bananas and apple slices
  • Freeze dried fruits

Check out this article for more ideas on healthy packaged snacks for your toddler!

Don’t forget to pack an adequate amount of drinks as well! Bring an extra supply of non-spillable sippie cups so your toddler isn’t soaked to the bone before you even hit the highway. Pack a small cooler to hold your drinkable goodies and cold snacks.

If your little one is still taking formula or milk, it’s helpful to pre-portion their bottles before the trip. These tips may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how easily you can forget them when it seems you’re trying to wrangle a zoo into the car.

Road Trip Essential Entertainment for Toddlers

A long-hauled car ride can quickly make anyone restless and bored, especially for a toddler. The last thing you want is your little one getting antsy as this can easily turn into meltdowns and tears!

Bringing a variety of toys and activities are sure to help distract your toddler and hopefully make the car ride seem to pass quickly for you and them. Below are some ideas of what to pack along for entertainment!

  • Plenty of books
  • Crayons and coloring books
  • Favorite stuffies
  • Musical toys (if they won’t drive you nuts)
  • If screens are allowed bring tablets for shows or games
  • Fidget poppers

It could also be helpful to buy or borrow new toys for the trip. Your little one will more likely be engaged with them longer since they are new to them. Remember toys don’t have to be the only form of entertainment you have tucked up your sleave!

Road Trip Essential Games for Toddlers

It can be fun to have some car ride games to play with them too! Below you can find some ideas to name a few.

  • ‘I spy with my little eye’ is a classic car ride game that’s fun for everyone! It’s engaging and has your little one using their thinking skills.
  • Sing-a-longs are super easy and are a great way to keep your little one entertained. Play their favorite nursery rhymes or lullabies and sing-along with them!
  • Shape and color game. I love these types of game because they get your toddler to use their thinking skills. The shape game is when you say a shape and your little one will name objects that are that shape or vice versa. For example: You say circle and your toddler could say: ball, sun, orange, etc. The color game works exactly the same! For example: You say green, and your toddler could say: grass, peas, leaves, etc.
  •  Animal Noises is a fun game to play with your toddler! In this game you name an animal then your tot makes the noise associated with that animal. Or you can switch it around where you make the noise then they have to guess which animal it is.
  • Scavenger Hunts will certainly keep your little one occupied and will help pass the time. For example: You say, “Can you find a red barn?” Then they will focus on the outside world looking for that object.

Plan Your Route

Knowing which stops you have the options for along the way will be highly beneficial for your road trip. You can then preplan which places to stop for food, potty breaks, or rest where your little one can get out and stretch their legs.

If you preplan your stops, or at least know what’s available to you, then in the moment of a potential crisis you aren’t searching frantically on your google maps for that next exit or stop. Also, in the case you need to break your trip up a bit and have an overnighter at a hotel, you already know the best options for you.

I hope these road trip essential tips have been helpful for you mama and that you make it to your destination in one happy piece. Best of luck to you!

Remember to make the most of your trip! Whether it’s filled with laughter or tears, these are sweet memories being made. Afterall, it’s not about the destination that matters, but who you are traveling with.

If you found this list helpful, be sure to check out the Diaper Bag Essential checklist next!

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