Tips For a Toddler Road Trip

It’s summer, so let the good times roll. And by roll, I mean on four wheels along the nation’s highways to grandma’s house, the beach, the amusement park or wherever your summer road trip takes you.

If you are rolling with a toddler this summer, then you know the importance of being prepared. If this is your first long journey with your little one, then consider the following road trip survival tips that have served me well over the years:


When traveling with toddlers, never underestimate the power of distractions. Plan on packing plenty of toys and introduce them to your child one at a time. The toys don’t need to be new or expensive, just different.


If you have a toddler, then you know how vital it is to be as organized as possible. I am not suggesting that you plan your trip down to the millisecond; rather I am merely suggesting adhering to your child’s daily routine as much as possible. For example, it pays to follow your normal routine as much as you can on the road in terms of meal times and sleeping times.

Another organization tip: Fuel up before your child’s nap. My brother did not plan ahead on a recent road trip and had to stop the car to refuel. As soon as he pulled into the service station his 19-month-old son woke up and cried for the next 20 minutes. Lesson learned. Save the pit stops for when the kids are awake rather than risk waking them up for your 11-year-old to go potty or for you to grab a snack.


Avoid planning long car trips around the driver’s schedule. For example, if you are planning to make a 6-hour car trip to grandma’s house, you may be tempted to leave first thing in the morning while you are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. However, morning is the worst time of the day to leave if you are traveling with an active toddler. Instead, spend the morning having your child run off steam in preparation for the journey. Most toddlers take one long afternoon nap so take advantage of this fact.

Related Articles:

Air Travel and the Toddler

Toddler-Friendly Airports

How to Keep Your Toddler Occupied on a Road Trip

This entry was posted in Behavior Issues by Michele Cheplic. Bookmark the permalink.
Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.