This week’s reader request is focusing on traveling with toddlers on road trips. I’m sharing tips for long road trips that don’t involve screen time. Because coming up with screen-free ideas can be more challenging than searching the app store, am I right!?!
Honestly, these tips can apply to any younger child in the car. All you have to do is change out the toys for things more suitable for the child’s age! And, as always, if you have an organizational or kid-related question, please feel free to leave a comment below, email or, message me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!
When taking a road trip with toddlers, it’s in your best interest to plan “run and be loud” breaks. When we go on family road trips, I always try to find good places where the kids can run or crawl around and get some energy out! We try to stop at places with lots of open areas, playlands, and kid-friendly places. We will look at our route and find places to stop along with way, usually about every two hours. Since my kids don’t really sleep in the car, trying to get them to nap is just not going to happen, so we like to make sure they have time to get their energy out! But when we are in the car, I like to be prepared.
Along with the necessities you need for a road trip, you also need “stuff” to keep your toddlers busy. I found that we ran out of room quickly when we were packing up the car for our first road trip with two little ones. To save space, I decided to clip a backpack full of activities to the back of the passenger seat. This was an easy way to store toys for the kids and left us room on the floor for other items we needed to pack. I have also seen large crates holding all the kids’ toys in between the car seats or booster seats. If the dog didn’t sit between my two kiddos, we would have done this as well!
When both toddlers are in a car seat, having large trays to lay on their laps for activities can make a huge difference in keeping them occupied during a road trip. I have seen many different trays ranging from cheap, dollar store cooking trays to store-bought fancy trays. Whatever tray makes you happy. Then, I say go for it! We use the trays I had purchased a while ago from Oriental Trading Company. Each kid gets a different color tray that they can do their own activities on. I store the tray in the backpack I attached to the back of the passenger seat along with activities.
3. Activities for Road Trips with Toddlers
So what do you put into the backpack to keep the kiddos busy throughout a long car ride? Well, pretty much anything they want to bring! We pack Play-Doh, crayons, markers, paper, Duplos/Legos, books, puzzles, color matching games, some of my On-The-Go activity kits, I Spy kits, and cars and trucks.
4. Car Games
When we last traveled, we didn’t do many car games. I have tried to teach the kiddos I Spy and Bingo, but they are more interested in other things like smashing things into Play-Doh or throwing things around the car. Next time we take a long road trip, I am going to make sure to print off these adorable, free printables to keep the kids occupied as we are driving!
5. Food for Road Trips with Toddlers
The biggest necessity to have while taking a long road trip is food. Not only do you need fruit and other healthy food, but you also need snacky food because, well, it’s a road trip! When we go on road trips, I pack a small cooler with fresh fruit for the kids to nosh on while we are driving. I always make sure to cut up the fruit into bite-size pieces so I don’t have to try to cut the fruit as we are driving.
I also try to buy individual bags of snacky foods so each child can have their own. And I fill up the snack cups with something crunchy. My kids love apple sauce, so I will get a few pouches they can suck on as we are driving. String cheese, crackers, pretzels, graham crackers, cheesy bunnies, veggie straws, baby Mum Mums, and breakfast bars were all a must for our road trips. I also packed every person a water bottle that was filled with ice and water. And, since my kids love their milk, I had a small cooler that was filled with sippy cups.
To keep the kids on their schedule, I planned our road trip around specific things we’d do normally. For example, I’d give the kids their milk as we were driving around the time I would typically give them their milk. Now, if they would nap in the car, I would make sure to start driving with enough time for them to fall asleep before our planned stop. By keeping to a familiar schedule, you are less likely going to be “off-schedule” once you arrive at your destination!
By keeping yourself organized and planning lots of stops, you can get through a road trip with toddlers! Just make sure you allow for storing car activities, packing car activities (including a tray), packing lots of food, and trying to stay on a semi-schedule. By sticking with these tips, your next road trip should be a breeze!
Favorite Road Trip Items
Have an organizational question? Well here’s your chance to ask an organizer! Send me an email with your question and it could be answered on The Organized Mama!