Road trips are a great way to spend time with your family, but they can also be really hard on the little ones. This is especially true when it comes to toddlers who are just learning about their world and need constant stimulation and entertainment!
In this blog post, I've compiled a list of tips for surviving a road trip with your toddler including how to keep them entertained and what snacks you should bring. Whether you're traveling for work or pleasure, these tips will help make things easier on everyone involved!
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What To Pack for a Road Trip with Your Toddler
Packing for a vacation can already be stressful, but when you add in a long car ride it can be a bit overwhelming. One way to make this task a little easier is by packing ahead of time and getting all the essentials organized in one place, namely for your toddler!
To do this, I recommend packing a "car bag" that will have all the essentials your toddler will need during a ride. Here are my go to (and mess free) things to pack for a road trip with my toddler:
- A favorite toy that doesn't require any batteries or charging
- Books (a mix of new books they haven't seen before as well as old favorites)
- Car Seat Tray (I really like this one and it folds up into a bag!)
- Coloring Book and Crayons (you could also print out some at home like this one!)
- Tablet loaded with their favorite cartoons (download if you can just in case you run into no wifi/service zones)
- Window Clings
- Sticker Books
- Imagine Ink Books
- Water Wow Books
- Buddha Board Enso
- Portable Potty and/or potty seat if your toddler is potty training
Shop Toddler Road Trip Essentials
Best Road Trip Snacks for Toddlers
Since you're not going to have access to your full kitchen, it's essential that you pack snacks and activities for the car. Here are some things I recommend bringing with you:
- Granola bars (you could also make your own like the PB&J bars)
- Trail Mix
- String Cheese
I like to use these containers to pre-portion snacks out so they're easy to grab in the car.
Don't forget to pack plenty of water to help everyone stay hydrated!
Best Road Trip Lunch and Dinners for Toddlers
If you're on the road over a meal time you'll want to pack a little more than snacks. Some of my favorite meals to pack are:
- Tuna Lunch Kits with Crackers (I like these Starkist ones)
- Uncrustable PB&J (I like to make my own)
- Quinoa Salad (can be eaten hot or cold!)
- Pasta Salad
- Turkey and Cheese Roll Ups
I recommend brining a cooler if you're planning on bringing these
How to Keep Your Toddler Entertained in the Car
Movies, TV Shows and Games
You can also try bringing a tablet loaded with Netflix, cartoons, Disney+. I recommend downloading as much as you possibly can on to the tablet before you go just in case you run into some areas that don't have any service. If your toddler is easily distracted, I recommend getting a pair of kid headphones to help them hear the tablet.
Another great idea for entertainment is bringing a set of coloring books and crayons. They can color on the tablet, their car seat, or even the back of your driver's car headrest! Just make sure you have plenty to keep them occupied in case they get tired of one thing.
Bringing a sticker book is another great idea. We always love to pull out our sticker books and start sticking stickers everywhere! This can also be combined with coloring for the perfect entertainment combo.
Travel Art Kits
Travel art kits are a great way to keep toddlers entertained, and fortunately, there are options available that also don't make a mess! One of my favorite portable art options is the Buddha Board Enso because it's an all-in-one kit. The kit comes with a smaller Buddha Board and a refillable water pen so kids can paint without spilling water everywhere. We've used it on a few road trips now and not only does it keep Little A occupied, but it also helps her stay relaxed.
When to Start Packing for a Road Trip
I recommend starting to plan to pack about a month before your road trip so you have enough time to order anything you might need.
About a week before the trip is when I'll start to put together our bags and the night before I'll prepare any food to bring.
If you are thinking of going on a road trip with your little one, this post will give you some great tips and tricks to make it as easy as possible. Now get out there and have fun!