After driving with our 15-month-old to Florida from Indiana, I compiled some of the items and tips that made this road trip much better than expected. Our biggest takeaway was to break the trip up into two shorter trips (we did this on the way down and will do it on the way down and back next time!)
Brian and I recently completed a road trip from our hometown of Indianapolis all the way down to the panhandle of Florida with our 15 month old. On the way down to Florida, we broke the trip up into two segments. The first being about 5 hours (we stayed the night in Nashville, TN) and the second segment was about 7 hours (Nashville to Florida). On the way home, we powered through and did the long drive in one chunk that ended up taking about 15 hours because of multiple stops along the way. Next time, I think we will break up the trip into two segments on the way there and the way home.
I reached out to my followers on Instagram to poll the crowd and learn what road trip tips YOU recommend, and many great tips came through! Below, I will include what worked for us as well as what other people recommended.
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Toddler Road Trip Essentials
These are the tips that worked for us! I will also preface this by saying we do zero screen time at home (aside from facetiming family), so because of this Marie is used to being “bored” and entertaining herself.
This fold up chair was perfect for snack and meal time during rest stops
Pouches for snack time were convenient and created minimal mess.
We stopped about every 2 hours to allow Marie (and Brian and me) to get out and move around/stretch our legs.
We packed a small fold up stroller for Marie to play with and push around after meals on the road.
I packed lunch and snacks so that when it came time to eat, we weren’t frantically hoping to find a decent food stop. I purchased chicken salad and egg salad to put on croissants as well as washed and cut fruit as an easy side.
We love this cup for water even when we aren’t on a road trip. The straw uses muscles to help with speech development, and I love that it can close so there is minimal water leakage.
We brought Marie’s stuffed animal and blanket that she normally sleeps with in the car with us to help with naps.
When Marie got fussy, I waited a little bit before reacting (before offering a new toy, playing music on the radio or even going into the back). I only ended up sitting in the back for about 1 hour on the way down and I found that Marie was more unsettled because she wanted me to pick her up out of her car seat.
If Marie did get fussy, playing music (rather than listening to an audio book) usually solved the problem.
We packed a clear plastic tote with lid in the back to contain all loose odds and ends (and limit the number of projectiles loose in the car that may pose a hazard if we were to get in a car accident.)
We kept all of Marie’s meals and snacks close to the same time schedule as normal and I did not offer snacks to Marie in the car because of the risk of choking while eating in a reclined position like in the car seat (and it saved on the mess!).
Some of Marie’s favorite car toys
Buckle Toy Cube – Marie is a little young to completely understand how to unbuckle and rebuckle the straps on this cube, but she still loved trying. I also love that it is soft so it is less of a threat for harm if we were to get in a car accident.
Quiet Book – I love that this book is soft and has many different activities for Marie to master over the next couple of years. Things like matching colors, tying and untying a shoe, zipping, unbuttoning and buttonning, working with snaps, and buckling are all included in this book.
Apple Threading Toy – Marie is still getting the hang of this, but it’s something she can grow into!
Kid Friendly Road Trip Essential Recommendations
These are recommendations I received from Instagram, many of them seemed more appropriate for older children but still good ideas for the future!