Planning a Long-Distance Road Trip With Toddler – Tips & Essentials

If you’re a parent, you might know how daunting it is to road trip with an infant or a toddler. What if the baby cries non-stop throughout the road trip and disturbs others traveling with you? Well, worry not! For starters, you are not alone, and this happens to every parent. Indeed, traveling with a toddler is a challenging task. However, a proper plan and strategy make dealing with infants on long road trips much easier. Now, let’s dive right into the article focusing on planning a long-distance road trip with toddlers in a car, the essentials required for traveling with a newborn, and the tips and tricks to make a smooth journey for both you and your child.

Essentials For Long-Distance Road Trip With Babies

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Long-distance road trips can be tricky at times, especially when you’re traveling with a newborn in a car. Extreme caution is required when planning and organizing yourself and your baby for the long journey ahead.

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Having a baby can indeed change your life, and this is quite a good example. Here are the essentials to keep in mind and exercise before starting your trip.

1. Select The Best Time To Leave

When planning a long-distance road trip, many things should be considered non-negotiable. These include choosing an appropriate time to start your road trip in the interest of your baby or toddler.

Usually, picking a time when your toddler is fast asleep is the best to consider traveling a long-distance road trip. This usually depends on the family’s interest as some may want it to be in the evening while others prefer early in the morning.

Keep a journal to record the time your baby is fast asleep. Doing this will save you from a significant hassle while traveling with a newborn in a car. You should put this under consideration before driving a long-distance road trip with your baby.

2. Plan Your Road Trip Stops

Prepare a plan for all the possible stops before starting a road trip with an infant. It is better to have everything planned out beforehand, even though if it doesn’t go according to the plan in the end. At least, planning your road trip will provide you with some clarity about the things you need to do.

It would help if you considered how long your toddler is to stay in their car seat.

According to studies, it is shown that babies should not stay in a car seat for longer than two hours. In fact, a research study from Swindon’s Great Western Hospital suggests that infants under four weeks should not be in a car for more than 30 minutes.

What to consider while traveling in a car with a toddler?

  • This means that you should stop every hour or two and take your toddler or baby out of the car seat. It’s always a sensible idea to add the length of breastfeeding while planning your stops, as you will need to keep your baby fed for the rest of the road trip.
  • Add a moderate amount of stops to your trip since it is improbable for toddlers or babies to sit still for many hours. This way, your toddlers will get to move around, which will lighten their mood.
  • Check your car set manufacturer guidelines before leaving if you are concerned about how long your toddler can stay in the car seat.

Here are a few safety tips for babies and toddlers while traveling:

  • Always select a seat that meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard.
  • Make sure to learn how to install the seat and utilize the harness before the ride.
  • Do a quick visit to the child car seat inspection station to ensure that you have installed the seat correctly.
  • Never use a secondhand car set. Always buy and install a new one.

3. Feeding Of Your Toddler

Do planning for feeding time for your baby or toddler during a long-distance road trip. If you are traveling early in the morning, pack breakfast for your kids. Pack healthy snacks that will keep your toddler occupied and excited during the trip, like nuts, bananas, apples, and cheerios.

Also, ensure that an adult is sitting in the backseat with your toddler as it is tough to drive and keep an eye on both the road and your baby.

Make sure to pack bottles of water for everyone; otherwise, traveling without water along with a hungry toddler will make the trip unbearable.

4. Sleeping In The Car For Toddlers

This is a great way to pass the time in the car and for the toddler not to get exhausted by the long-distance drive. However, it can be challenging for your toddler to sleep in the car on a long road trip.

According to studies, when a baby sleeps seated in an upright position, its head can fall forward, leading to suffocation, which is a severe concern for your child’s safety. 

Here are some sleeping tips for toddlers while traveling on a long road trip:

  • Begin your journey when the baby is asleep.
  • Play soft music in the background in the car while traveling.
  • Take breaks and indulge in some activities.

5. Activities During A Road Trip For Toddlers

When your toddler isn’t eating or sleeping, they will need another form of entertainment. If you are traveling with your partner, you can take turns to sit in the backseat with your toddler and indulge in games with your kids to keep them busy. If you haven’t been allowing your kids to watch TV at home, you shouldn’t feel guilty now if you do let them.

6. Pack All The Necessities

Do strategic packing whenever you’re road tripping with a baby or an infant. Begin your packing with all the necessary items for your baby first, and make sure you have packed everything you need before heading off.

These are the items that you should pack while traveling:

  • Toilet paper
  • A first aid kit
  • Diapers for the baby
  • Pacifier
  • Bottles for formula

7. Consider Making Daily Goals

Planning is hugely relevant when driving long-distance as a family. Make realistic daily goals that you will look forward to, making the trip perfect.

8. Make Plans For The Unforeseeable

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When traveling long distances with your toddler, you should plan for the unexpected or any unforeseeable event that may occur. Something may go wrong, and you need to be prepared beforehand. Hence, having your car checked to avoid any road breakdowns is imperative before beginning the journey.

Tips To Make The Road Trip With Your Baby A Stress-Free Journey

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1. Distract The Toddler With Snacks

Bottles for babies and snacks for toddlers serve as a distraction. Giving snacks to your child is an effective way to make the trip stress-free as it keeps them distracted from getting fussy.

2. Do Not Over Do It

The best road trips for kids are those that are short. And as discussed, babies shouldn’t sit inside the car for more than two hours stretch. It’s better to avoid long-distance road trips with infants and toddlers since they do not have the patience to sit still for long hours.

3. Carry A Bucket

Most toddlers get sick during road trips, and if your toddler does too, you should pack a bucket during the trip and keep it at arm’s length. This is a necessary precaution that you should put into consideration.

4. Allow Your Kids To Move

Kids can’t sit in the car for several hours as adults do. Even though you explain how quickly the trip will turn out if you drive continuously, they won’t get it, and you should consider letting them move.

You can do this by making stops every few times, either at playgrounds or just letting them move for a bit before you get back on the road.

5. Consider Separating The Kids

If you have more than one kid, you should not put them in one place. Consider separating them to prevent them from fighting. This can be done by placing them on different ends of one another or one of you sitting in between them in the backseat.

6. Driving At Night

If you are going on a long-distance road trip and the journey ahead seems a lot, you should consider driving at night when the kids are asleep.

This can prove to be a lifesaver. However, if this scares you, you shouldn’t feel obligated to do it.

7. Get Your Kids Used To Be Bored

Kids don’t need to be always entertained. Training them that being bored is okay and getting them used to it is a great way to prepare them for long-distance road trips.

You can do this by reducing their screen time.

8. Bring Books For The Toddlers

This is a great way to keep your kids busy during the trip. Make sure you bring your kids’ favorite books to distract them from the long-distance ahead.

9. Keep Things Reachable

The most important tip you should consider is keeping all of the essential items within arm’s reach. Keep a bag close to you with all of your toddler’s food and toys. This is to prevent looking for stuff while driving.

10. Play Music Or Movies On The Road

Pay attention to your kid’s favorite songs and movies. Play them on the trip to keep them distracted and happy. Don’t feel guilty if you indulge them in this once in a while.

Conclusion

Traveling with a baby in a car is an exhausting task, and to minimize that, it’s mandatory to plan the essentials for a long car ride. Babies can become fussy and unbearable while on the road, and if you don’t know how to deal with them, it will leave you tired and stressed.

However, following and implementing the tips discussed above can save you from the dread of going on a road trip with a newborn or a toddler in a car.

Key Takeaways On Road Trip With A Baby

  • Traveling long road trips is a strenuous task with a newborn in a car.
  • Whenever you travel with a toddler, make sure to select the best time to leave, mostly when your child is asleep.
  • Form a plan for all the possible stops before starting a road trip with an infant.
  • In fact, it is recommended to take breaks every two hours as babies should not stay in a car seat for longer than two hours.
  • Prepare a plan for feeding time for your toddler during long-distance travel.
  • Indulge in fun activities with your child throughout the journey as it helps them stay away from being fussy.
  • Ensure that you have packed all the necessities—for example, toilet paper, first aid kit, diapers, pacifier, and formula.
  • Lastly, don’t forget to make plans for the unforeseeable.

What Is the Best Age to Travel With a Child?

There is no clear answer as to what age is appropriate for traveling with kids. However, it is easier to travel with babies. This is because they are much more comfortable and don’t require a lot of work. It is also more comfortable for them to sleep.

As they grow older, they require more responsibility, and traveling with them becomes problematic. However, you can still travel with them, but you need to be cautious all the time and utilize the tips and tricks shown above while putting the essentials into consideration.

Can a 6 Month Old Go on a Road Trip?

A 6-month-old can go on a road trip since, unlike other babies, they can sit up by themselves. They need to, however, be supervised at all times and not be left alone.

How Long Can a Toddler Ride in a Car?

Traveling for long distances with your child is not a problem as long as you make a stop every 2 hours. It is recommended that toddlers should not ride in a car longer than two hours, and you should give them a break as often as you can.

How Do I Keep a 2Year Old Busy on a Road Trip?

You can keep your two-year-old busy by packing snacks to occupy him/her with to make the journey easier.

You can also pack your baby’s favorite games, books, and music to keep him/her busy during the long hours of the trip.

AT Author is a writer at AlignThoughts. She shares her thoughts and ideas to inspire and help others for personal growth.