Road Trip With Toddlers

I’m beyond excited that I even get to write this post. Bringing two children across the country in the car sounded like a nightmare but I was beyond pleasantly surprised with how it went.

In February we decided that we wanted to go up to Detroit for a hockey game. It was going to be a quick trip so spending literally $2000 on four airline tickets was just outrageous. We were leaving on a Thursday and coming home on Monday. I couldn’t justify that kind of money for just a few days. Our only other option if we wanted to go to this game that badly [trust me, I did] was to drive.

roadtrip copy

The drive, according to google maps, was going to take 13 hours and 10 minutes. I was anticipating at least 6 hours of straight crying each way from my 4 year old and 2 year old. Instead I got about 30 seconds on the way there and about 5 minutes on the way home. WIN.

Here’s what we did.

  • Mentally prepare the kids for the drive. A few days before I started talking to them about how we were going to their “GiGi’s house” but we were going in the car. I told them it was going to be a long drive but if they tried to sleep and were very good then they would get there faster.
  • Leave super early in the morning. We were on the road by 5 AM. It was awful for me since I despise waking up so early but the kids were so tired that they fell asleep within about 30 minutes.
  • Don’t stop for breakfast or potty breaks until they wake. I was starving by 7 AM and had to pee like a racehorse but the kids were still sleeping. There was no way I was chancing them waking up because the car stopped moving until they were done sleeping.
  • Fill them with a big breakfast. They didn’t wake up till almost 5 hours into the drive. We all got out of the car, went to the bathroom, and got breakfast to be eaten in the car.
  • Bring lots of snacks. As soon as someone started to get a little crabby I would offer them a new snack.
  • Limit drinks. This is obvious to me but I don’t want to be stopping with a toddler that has to pee every hour because I’m filling them with drinks.
  • Keep them engaged while they’re awake. I would keep asking them questions about things we were seeing outside. Asking them colors of things, asking them to find certain types of cars, ect. I feel like this really kept their minds busy.
  • Tablets / Screen Time. I think this is really what saved us but I did it in a way that’s probably a little different than what you’re thinking. I brought the kids tablets but didn’t give them to them right away. I did it once they were really getting restless and almost ready for nap time. It was almost like the tablet reset the time that they were in the car. I put some movies on them, turned them on, and they seemed to forget they were in the car.

So what I think really saved us was the fact that they continued sleeping as soon as we got into the car and the fact that they were mentally prepared for the fact that it was going to be a really long ride.

Now, we’re doing it again over Christmas so I can only hope it goes as well as this trip did. Wish us luck and if you have any other tips or experiences with long road trips with kids; leave it in the comments!