Long car ride with toddler – 10 tips

Driving can be exhausting. Especially one long car ride with toddler can sometimes turn out to be a nightmare – believe me, i speak from experience ? on our last car trip to the french atlantic coast we were on the verge of divorce ?

For each route we easily needed twice the time we had planned: 12 hours instead of 6 hours. all in all we were on the road for 36 hours – which can be very long with a cranky child.

This time we wanted to do it differently. Admittedly the jack rides much better since we switched from the infant carrier to the child seat. No matter if forward or rear facing. This may have something to do with the fact that he is simply older and notices more, and therefore discovers more exciting things and is better able to occupy himself. But we’ve been thinking about what can keep a child happy on long car rides and that’s what I want to tell you today…

1) the way is the goal – the route

Last year we made the mistake of having our overnight options on the way be quite far away from the highway. The trips there cost us a good half hour and we changed that this time around. Probably this was a beginner’s mistake, but I don’t want to deprive you of this tip: look for something that can be reached quickly from your route. That saves time, fuel and most of all nerves..

2) plan realistic stages

Back then™, when we were still a carefree fresh couple, we got by with one overnight stay for the 1700km. Sometimes we even made it back in one piece. With child and dog it looks of course different. WHOLE different. That’s why it’s important to plan realistic stages and to be happy to arrive an hour earlier than to be annoyed about arriving completely overtired and irritated. Especially on a trip of several days, you feel fit and the duration of the trip is foreseeable – a nice feeling.

3) packing on time

I don’t know about you, but it takes me forever to get everything in the car. that’s why i start packing really early: this time a whopping three days in advance. Little by little, the bags go into the trunk, so that on the day of travel you almost only need to get into the car.

4) observe the child’s rhythm

About an hour before the little one normally takes his nap we set off. So we could drive the first hour relaxed (there was all kinds of commentary from the off), the next two even more relaxed and then came the first break – already is quite a distance done.

5) exciting toys

Here, a cell phone*, a fire truck* and a dump truck* had to wait months for their deployment. I had it in the cupboard for ages and had to pull myself together very much not to give it much earlier into the greedy hands of the little one. But it was worth it: during the drive the parts provided the entertainment and the jack was at least busy for a while with it.

6) cds with children songs

The children’s songs, which the boy knows and likes from home, come along. the times when we drove with way too loud brazilian music seem to be over. At least for now.

7) i am hungry! I am thirsty!

You probably all know this anyway, but I’ll mention it anyway: it’s a huge time saver to plan ahead what’s coming on the plate. Pre-cut fruit and vegetables, have enough to drink and you’re ready to go. A little tip by the way: before the trip, I bought one of those keep-warm boxes* and I’m thrilled with it. The finished lunch comes in in the morning and is still warm at lunchtime. I admit, I thought it was something from the category "things the world doesn’t need" so far. But I also admit that I was wrong: the part is very practical and helpful if you are on the road a lot.

8) appropriate clothing for the trip

These child seats seem to be small ovens – the child usually sweats a lot in them. that’s why i make sure it tends to be dressed "too thin" – just right for the long car ride. For the breaks in between there is a sweater if necessary. And that brings us to an important point:

9) breaks, breaks, breaks

It is essential to plan sufficient breaks. Last year we were caught in a time loop every time we took a break: pee, breastfeed, diaper, walk the dog, get something to eat and it was back to: i have to pee. this time there was no breastfeeding, which was great for us, but bad for the dog: he had to wait a bit longer. the breaks were kept as short as possible, but as exciting as possible: the boy ran around a lot and we were able to continue our journey quickly.

10) pack your good mood!

The last tip and maybe the most important one: don’t forget to be in a good mood! Because when the child shits so much that the child seat, the upholstery, the child AND the mom get dirty, bad moods don’t help much. I have been told ? It always turns out differently anyway and as I said in the first tip: the way is the goal when you plan a long car ride with toddlers.

I hope these tips will help you on your trip and wish you a wonderful trip! Where is it going if I may ask?


*these links are affiliate links and my very personal tips. If you buy something there, I get a few cents for these totally honest recommendations. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *