tips for road trip with kids

Road Trip Survival Tips for Traveling With a Toddler

Summer time is in full swing and many of us have our vacations planned or are feverishly planning the perfect family vaca!  Kuddos to you Mom!  We know it’s not always easy!  There are many hurdles we face when vacationing/road tripping with kids and toddlers so this week we wanted to bring you some tips from a special Mama who has been there and done that!  You can check out Ayana and her blog at Little Prince Leopold if you want to stay up to date with the adventures of her little Prince!  Thank you for being here with us this week, Ayana!

Enjoy and write these tips down!  We loved her idea of wrapping up items for kids to unwrap! Brilliant Mom Hack!  (hand clap)  Make sure you comment below with your best tip for traveling with a toddler/kids!

Blessings and Happy 4th of July!

Road Trip Survival Tips for Traveling With a Toddler

We recently took a road trip to New Orleans from South Carolina to visit some family.

I was really nervous about this road trip because as far as road trips go my son has always been a hit or miss type of baby.

We have gone on short car trips (3 hours or less) where he is unhappy and cries for at least half of the trip. On a recent trip into North Carolina I spent the last 30 minutes singing the ABC’s in different ways to keep him happy. Every time I stopped he would start fussing again!

Sometimes, he is content the whole way there!

So my first piece of advice to you would be:

Prepare and plan ahead

road trip activities for toddlers

Don’t just ‘wing it’ if you are about to go on a long road trip. Heck, it’s smart to plan ahead for even the shortest of trips! I started planning and gathering supplies a couple of months ago when we decided to go. My cousin was going to be visiting my aunt with her new baby and I wanted to meet him! She lives in Colorado and chances are we won’t be out there anytime soon. Plus, my husband really wanted to explore New Orleans and find out what all the hype was about.

Whenever we were out shopping I would look for things that I thought would hold my son’s attention without being TOO messy.

I wanted to get stuff that he hadn’t played with before so that it would be fun and exciting for him too.

I collected snacks and drinks for all of us. We borrowed an ‘ipad holder’ so he could watch movies on our kindle. There was a lot of time spent on Pinterest getting ideas from other moms who had been brave enough to try a similar road trip.

Be ready for something to go wrong. Take a deep breath and get through it if it happens.

No matter how much you do prepare for the road trip, often times things don’t go perfectly like you planned for. Don’t let this mess up your whole road trip. Try to think of it as something that gave your trip character…maybe even something you will laugh about later!

We got our ‘uh oh’ out of the way only two hours into our road trip.

I’d packed our stuff into the van the night before, everything was ready to go. The dogs were at their ‘camp’, lists were checked off, clothes were set out for the morning. We were all set!

At 4:15am we got up, packed the cooler and the ice, loaded the baby into the car and hit the road. 5 minutes down the road we thought, ‘let’s make sure we have our wallets! Wouldn’t that be awful’! So we checked and yes, wallets were both there.

Right after we crossed into Georgia (around 6am) one of us randomly thought it would be terrible if the debit card wasn’t IN the wallet.

Ha, ha…right?

So just for fun I checked. NOPE. It was NOT in there! We frantically checked all over the car and it was gone. My husband got gas last night and we both forgot to put the card back in his wallet. It was in the pocket of his jeans back at home.

I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream and hit things.

But at the same time we were both relieved that something made us check right then and not when we needed to stop for gas.

Unfortunately the second we pulled in the driveway at home, Leopold woke up. So much for getting a head start so he would sleep! There went four hours of our trip. I felt sick to my stomach about it until we passed the point where we originally turned around in Georgia. After that it didn’t seem so bad anymore.

Here are a few of the things that kept Leopold occupied, even if it was just for 5 minutes!

Kindle loaded up with movies I downloaded from Netflix

baby watching amazon kindle fire

This boy loves computer animated films! He was hooked on ‘Animals United’ and ‘Ribbit’. Leopold surprised us by being really interested in the movies I put on for him. He would even talk to the characters or react out loud to things that happened, which is relatively new for him!

Homemade toys

toys made of cardboard for kids

I made him ‘threading’ toys out of cardboard and ribbons. I think this is still a little advanced for him but I made three and cut them into shapes he knows and painted them bright colors. He liked messing with the ribbon and naming the shapes and colors!

Wrapped items

road trip entertainment for kids

I wrapped a few of the things I brought for him in wrapping paper. That way not only was it a fun new toy, but unwrapping would be half the fun! Well, my kid just got frustrated with the wrapping paper. But once it was off he enjoyed ripping it into tiny pieces. It wasn’t a total fail!


Dollar store flash cards

toddler flash cards

Leopold has always loved flashcards. He likes collecting them in his hands and then mixing them up like a crazy person. I found some new ones at the dollar store and when I introduced them in the car I would hand him one at a time and we would talk about what was on the card. After we got through the box he enjoyed looking through the pile in his lap and then throwing them around the car. This activity actually lasted for a while!

Crayola double sided washable board

crayola double sided washable board

I loved this because he could color on one side and ‘finger paint’ on the other. We also used it later for a different activity.

Books and more books

road trip books for toddler

I brought as many books as I could without taking up too much space. Leopold loves to look at books so I used them as ‘filler’ between activities and movies. He loves his Disney babies books (they used to be mine)! We have a lot that are paperback and super thin (but very durable) so I was able to bring a lot.

Color wonder sets

crayola color wonder for road trip

This would probably last longer for an older child but I was trying everything I could! I love these since the markers only work on the paper that comes with the set. I got this small pack and he used it for a while!

Pom Poms in a coffee can

sensory play pom poms

This one kept Leopold occupied for quite a while. Leopold loves putting things in containers so I knew this activity would be a hit. I held out a handful at a time and let him put them in the coffee container. Then when it was full we would start over again. This one is better as a supervised activity so your toddler doesn’t try to eat the pom poms! My kid doesn’t put stuff in his mouth all that often but he did try to taste these a time or two.

Window Clings

window clings road trip

I grabbed these window clings from target’s dollar section as well and they were a HIT. I think he played with these longer than just about any other activity. The feeling of them is different than just about anything he has ever played with and he loved sticking them to his crayola coloring board and then eventually stretching them until they ripped apart.

Some favorite toys from home

road trip activities for toddlers

I brought some of his favorite little dinosaurs and he played with them for a while. He loves making them kiss and talk to each other. I set him up with his pillow as a space to play on.


In case he was fussy but didn’t want to play or watch a movie. Bubbles are always a nice distraction.

A Wallet filled with old cards

Exactly how it sounds. He enjoyed practicing opening and closing the Velcro and then pulling all the cards out and looking at them before throwing them on the floor.

A couple of new toys

I got him two toys from Once Upon a Child that have batteries. He really doesn’t have any battery operated toys at home so I thought they would be fun and interesting for him. They didn’t last too long but they did occupy him for a few minutes at a time. I got this alphabet dog and this remote.


Very important. Leopold runs on snacks a lot of the time so I got some of his favorites to eat during snack times. If he started to get extra fussy and nothing else was working I would give him a more special snack, like fruit snacks or goldfish.

Go ahead and plan an extra couple of hours just for making pit stops. Our travel time was 10 hours on the GPS but in reality it took us an entire day to get from point A to point B. I loved the road trip though. I got quality time with my husband and Leopold surprised us both by hardly fussing at all and just being a champion the whole time. It only makes me more excited to travel with him some more!

Our first official rest stop. Just pulled off at Georgia’s welcome center to stretch our legs and take a bathroom break. There was a lot of grass to run around on!

Chris pratt sign

Luckily Chris Pratt was at the welcome center. What a welcome! *fans self*


Road trip lunch  sandwhiches

I found these plates for .79 at Target and thought they would be cute to eat our lunches on! Packing a cooler with snacks, drinks and lunch food saved us a lot of money!

gas station diner old school

A rest stop on the way there. There was the cutest diner in a gas station so we got some fries and played outside in the grass while daddy took a quick power nap.

We stopped at a few rest areas to change diapers, eat lunch, and play on playgrounds. We found some pretty cool spots doing this! I tried to find places ahead of time but it ended up working better just stopping when we needed to.

mississippi playground

A playground somewhere in the South of Mississippi

Chick fil a Georgia

No road trip would be complete without a stop at Chick Fil A! Leopold kept shouting ‘COW!’ so the manager gave him this little guy to take home!

pier and marshes in mississippi

This was our breakfast stop in Mississippi on the way home. There was a playground and then a fishing pier in some marshlands. It was so pretty!



































































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Ayana Nell

I'm just a twenty something stay at home mama trying to do my very best to be awesome at my job. I love Harry Potter, crafting, coffee, red wine and stretchy pants. I used to be a world traveler but I've settled down (for now) to have babies. I'm married to my best friend James and I'm a dog mom to Niko (Goldendoodle) and Rahksi. (Chinese Crested)

5 replies
  1. Jenn Morrison
    Jenn Morrison says:

    Wow, that was probably the most detailed guide on taking a little one for the road trip. My family loves traveling so I will definitely take into account all your tips, especially flash cards and movies, my daughter loves this stuff!!

  2. Amanda
    Amanda says:

    These are some really great ideas! We travel with our son but usually the farthest is 3 to 4 hours. And we try to go during his nap time so he can sleep in the car. I love the idea of wrapping presents for them, takes extra time and they have a new toy to play with!!

  3. Katie Bressler
    Katie Bressler says:

    What a fun family trip! It looks like it was a huge success with all your toy ideas! I love the little board you made for him…such a good idea. We aren’t looking forward to a 2 hour drive here soon, so I will be hitting up the Target $1 section now for ideas 🙂


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