If you are planning a long car ride with toddlers, these tips are sure to help you figure out how to navigate it! This is my best long road trips with toddlers advice as a mom of twin toddlers!
*This post was originally published July 2, 2014 but has been updated August, 29, 2019 after many, many long road trips with now five kids.
One of the biggest concerns I had about taking a vacation to Chincoteague, Virginia, last summer was the long road trip with toddlers.
Our three young kids – a baby and twin three-year-olds would need to handle a long road trip traveling from Indianapolis, IN to Chincoteague, VA. It is a 12-hour drive, without any stops.
When you have a baby who is exclusively breastfed and doesn’t take a bottle, you know there will have to be some stops.
Fortunately, on the way there, we stopped in West Virginia, at one of Josh’s uncle’s houses, and didn’t have to drive the whole long road trip with toddlers in one day.
However, we decided that we’d drive the entire thing in one go on the way back home. And it took us over 14 hours to do it. It was a long road trip with kids!
So, how did we survive 14 hours in a car with a newborn and twin three-year-olds?
The truth is we actually had a great time with little to no complaints or problems. I, myself, am still amazed!
Tips for Taking Long Road Trips with Toddler and Babies
1. Prep them with mini road trips ahead of time
I think it is very fortunate that we had taken our girls on shorter road trips previous to this all-day extravaganza in the car.
We took them twice from Indianapolis, IN to Louisville, KY and back in a day, a two-hour road trip each way. We saw firsthand how they handled being in the car for two hours, and our kids saw that they could do it too.
2. Hype them up about the destination
A long road trip with toddlers is worth the hours in the car, when you realize the awesome place it will take you to!
My girls would shout “Beach! Beach! Beach!” and we would do it with them, pumping alternate fists into the air, promising them that the car ride would take them to an exciting place called “The Beach.”
And it did not disappoint as they still talk about this vacation, the ocean, and the beach a year later (maybe because we had so many fun beach games for kids).
3. Bring toys for in the car
We had the girls pack their little backpack full of some of their favorite toys. This way they’d be easy to reach in the car.
It got them excited to pack their own little bag for the trip.
4. Play car games
There are so many games you can play while in the car that don’t require a tablet or electronic device!
Really, with young kids, you can just point out objects you pass, play games where you look for certain colored cars/trucks, stick your hands up in the air when you go over bridges, hold your breath past graveyards, and any number of made-up on-the-spot silly games.
Kids are great in that a challenge or something silly can easily entertain them. Plus, some of these can be fun learning experiences too.
I also found this Road Trip in a Box kit from The Dating Divas and it looks amazing fun and easy!
5. Bring a portable DVD player
We went ahead and bought a portable DVD player before this trip, and at a great price.
When our kids (the older two) started getting riled up and crazy, then we knew it was time to put in a movie.
There are only so many hours of screaming children in a confined space that you can take before going nuts on a long road trip with kids.
6. Let them be bored.
And honestly, just let them be bored.
You don’t always have to have a movie playing, or be singing a song, or playing a game.
We bought a dual-screen portable DVD player that mounted to the back of our headrests, and our three-year-olds did watch some movies, but I think they only watched two on either of the long road trip travel days, so the vast majority of our all-day road trips were relatively quiet.
Let your kid be bored. It’s okay! Silence is amazing!
Let your child just look out the window, look up at the sky, check out people in passing cars, check out their shoes, or take a nap. Let them be bored on road trips!
And that’s it! We are simple people with simple long road trip with toddlers tips! But, it worked! We had a great experience taking a road trip with kids!
But, what are your travel tips for taking road trips with kids?
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Be sure to check out my other travel posts!16 Smart Things to Do Before Vacation so You Don’t Dread Coming Back