For Baby – How to Take a Road Trip With a Toddler (and Stay Sane!)

Family on a road trip stopping for a picnic

Traveling with a toddler in tow adds a whole new level to your daily planning. Diaper bags, changing pads, baby wipes, extra clothes — it can feel like you’re packing for a trip just to go to the grocery store. This can make the thought of actually taking a trip seem overwhelming.

Despite this, the old school road trip is still the most popular type of vacation for families, even ones with small children. If you want to hit the open road with your family but think doing it with toddlers is too daunting, never fear!

Here are our tips for hassle-free trips with toddlers so you can travel as stress-free as possible.

Plan, Prepare, & Plan Some More

The key to staying sane on trips with toddlers is to plan carefully ahead of time and think about your child’s (and your) needs all along the way.

Choose the trip wisely

Think about how long the trip will be and what your child will be able to handle. Maybe a couple days in a car is doable but a week long trip will be too much. Plan out the route and stops so you know how long each leg of the journey will be and when you will be able to take breaks.

  • Limit travel times (plan breaks)
  • Select stops where little ones can run off energy

Keep to bed and meal routines as much as possible

Children thrive on predictability, so the better you can stick to what they’re used to the smoother things will go. Also think about sleep arrangements on the way and at the destination. If your child usually sleeps alone, being in the same room as you may disrupt both of your sleep patterns.

Pro Tip: Consider renting a home with multiple rooms or get a hotel room with a one-bedroom suite so your toddler can sleep in a play yard in the living room.

Considerations During Travel

Traveling with toddlers in a car means packing all the usual — plus more. Plan for items to handle spills and accidents, boredom and antsiness, and the dreaded meltdowns. It’s a good idea to leave room next to your toddler’s seat for a changing station and to sit next to him or her if need be.

Here are some toddler road trip essentials:

  • Extra clothing & diapers
  • Hats, sunglasses & sunblock
  • Plenty of baby wipes, wet wipes & napkins
  • A variety of snacks & drinks
  • Favorite toys and books, especially for bed and bath times
  • Games & music you can occupy them with
  • Stroller
  • Play gates/play yards for stops and the final destination
  • First aid kit

Pro Tip: Remember chargers and batteries for electronics!

Considerations at Your Destination

Whether your trip plans include visiting family with a toddler or exploring a new locale, continue to follow your child’s regular routines for sleep, meals, and baths as much as possible. Designate safe play spaces with portable play yards or baby gates for times when you’re not on the run so your little one can still be near the action while you relax.

Follow these tips, and taking a road trip with a toddler will be a snap!

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