Tips for Traveling with a Toddler

When we made our trek to Montana a couple of weeks ago, it was a 17 hour car ride and the fact that Brynlee would be stuck in her car seat for that period of time was not something anyone was excited about. In order to make this trip as pleasant as possible, for everyone involved, I tried to come up with as many ideas as possible to entertain Brynlee. Before this, Brynlee had made a few 8 hour trips and lots of trips in the 2-3 hour range and sometimes they were good and she was perfect the whole time, while others she would scream and throw fits the whole time, so I really didn’t know what to expect on this trip and was just hoping for the best. All in all, I think she did pretty well, we had a few moments where we questioned our sanity for attempting a trip like this with a one year old. But hey, we survived, so now I’m here to share with you what worked for us and I would love to hear if you have any tips that have worked for you that I might be able to use for next time!

First, we came up with the brilliant idea of leaving at 8:00pm (Brynlee’s normal bed time), driving through the night and taking turns sleeping and driving. This way Brynlee would sleep the majority of the trip and hopefully be okay the rest of it. So the afternoon that we were leaving, we drove to Sedona to meet up with the rest of my family that was going, fed Brynlee dinner, gave her a bath and bottle and had her in her car seat ready to for bed at 8:00pm. All was going great! She  fell asleep about 20 minutes into the drive, woke up for a minute when we made a stop to pick someone else up in Flagstaff, but went right back to sleep once we started driving again and we thought we were good. WOW! Were we wrong, she ended up waking up 2 hours later and did NOT go back to sleep… I’m sharing this because even though it didn’t work for us, I still think that this is a good idea if you have a good sleeper. The problem we had with Brynlee is that she does not like to miss anything, so if there is any sort of activity going on around her she will fight sleep for as long as possible.


This brings me to tip number two and quite possibly the only thing that saved us on this drive. We purchased this iPad case that fit perfectly on our car’s headrest and held the iPad very securely. Before we left, we loaded the iPad with as many movies and TV shows as we could fit. Anything that would take Brynlee’s mind of off the fact that she was stuck in her car seat for that long!

In addition to the iPad, I also brought a plethora of her toys on the trip with us. And I think what really helped here was that I started picking which toys to bring and I put them away a few weeks before we left so that when she saw them again they would be somewhat novel to her. This worked decently well, but really, the iPad was the star of the show.


After the iPad, her second favorite thing would have to be snacks. I loaded up on snacks before we left so she would have a lot of options. I bought these fruit and veggie pouches in almost every flavor I could find, these teething cookies, these granola bars, these puffs, of course, Goldfish crackers, Pirate Booty and yogurt. Needless to say, but the end of the trip, her car seat was a mess!!! Crumbs everywhere!!! Oh and we had these little containers for the snacks, she likes them because she can be independent and get her snacks whenever she wants them.

I had also founds this reusable placemat at Target before we left and I loved having it!! It has a permanent place in my diaper bag now!! It makes it so much nicer when we go out to eat. Brynlee isn’t exactly a neat eater yet and I hate when her food touches the table and she still tries to eat it, so I guess this is really more for my peace of mind that anything else, but it was the best $6 I’ve spent recently.


Another thing that we found as we drove along that worked really well was having me or Landon in the back with her. I think it was very comforting to her to have one of us there. We did have cousins that were rotating through that seat as well, but on the way home I ended up riding the whole time in the back because she seemed to be calmer that way.


*A rare moment that Brynlee was actually sleeping in the car*

We were also very flexible about stopping and built extra time into our drive time to allow for that. That way Brynlee would have a chance to get out and stretch and get some of her wiggles out. We also made longer stops a meal time to hopefully reset Brynlee’s car seat clock, sometimes those gas station stops just weren’t long enough for her and she wouldn’t want to get back in her car seat just yet.


Oh and of course we played with Brynlee throughout the trip, singing songs and clapping and just trying anything to make her laugh. This help especially in those situations where she would start throwing a fit. Brynlee loves when people pay attention to her and she will start to ham it up too, making funny noises and laughing hysterically at you. It is so adorable!!

Well, this is mostly what worked for us. I hope if you have an impending trip, one of these might be useful to you! We are going camping this weekend, it’s about a 2 ½-3 hour car ride, so please share if you have any additional tips that we might use! Thank you for reading!!!


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