9 easy tips for long car trips with toddlers

9 easy tips for long car trips with toddlers
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I have done my fair share of long car journeys with my toddler from Norfolk to my parents in Yorkshire. We’ve done these trips as a family several times a year since she was a baby and I have now done a couple of journeys on my own with her. We’ve also travelled over four hours by car to go on holiday in the New Forest. And we’ve never had a problem with her screaming her head off, leaving us frazzled, or in danger because we’ve been distracted. The last time I drove with her on my own she didn’t cry or whine at all. A lot of people ask my how I manage. So I thought I’d share my top tips for successful long car trips with toddlers.

My tips to surviving long car trips with toddlers

  1. Don’t ignore them. Yes you need to concentrate when driving, but I find talking to my daughter about where we are going helps. I talk to her about our plans, who we are going to see, what she may like doing. I’d love to listen to the radio instead, but I know she’s happier and therefore I’m happier, if we chat.
  2. Sing. As much as I want to sing along to my Ed Sheeran album, I spent about an hour of my last three and a half hour car journey singing Nursery Rhymes. I have quite a repertoire now! If singing really isn’t your thing, you can buy CD’s with nursery rhymes or songs from your child’s favourite TV shows and films. Occasionally I put on a CD of songs we got when we signed up to Tumble Tots.
  3. Audio books are a great idea too. I’ve not used them yet but The Gruffalo and Other Stories CD
    is on my list.
  4. Make simple games up. Look out of the window for their favourite things (in our case animals and tractors). If they’re older, games like “I Spy” or counting the number of a certain colour car or the number of caravans you’ve seen work well. I used to do the caravan counting on trips to my grandparents when I was a child!
  5. Provide snacks and water. I know you’re not supposed to let your child eat their car seats, incase you stop suddenly, but I have in the past provided a bag of carrot puffs or raisins. If you’re really cautious pull over into a lay-by for them to eat their snacks safely.
  6. Take plenty of books and toys. My daughter loves to look at books. I find board books are the best to have in the car. Paperbacks can get torn. I had a stash next to me and kept passing them to her. Because they are her favourite books I knew roughly what was in the books, so again I could chat to her about it. e.g. “what colour is the circle?” (Correct answer, blue!) I find non-noisy toys such as stuffed toys are best in the car because they are less distracting.
  7. Take regular breaks if you need to. A short 15 minute break to stretch everyone’s legs, go to the toilet, and have a drink or snack, helps break up the journey.
  8. Stop for a long lunch. We always stop for about an hour for lunch. After we’ve eaten we stretch our legs, run around or go for a walk, even if it is just around a service station!
  9. Coincide your travel time with naps where possible. After our hour-long lunch stop I knew Miss Belle would be full and ready for her nap. Her usual nap time is after lunch, this can be any time from 1-2pm. We got back in the car at 1pm and she was asleep by 1.15pm. I then had an hour of solid motorway driving in peace and quiet.

So these are my tips for surviving long car trips with toddlers. You’ll notice that I’ve not included using a tablet. Honestly, we’ve never had to use one. However, we have used our iPad on the plane before and I don’t see a problem with entertaining toddlers with educational apps like the KiddloLand App we reviewed. The only thing I’d worry about giving my iPad to my toddler if there wasn’t someone sat with her in the back, is that she has a habit of accidentally deleting photos! So the risk is up to you!

I don’t know if we’ve just been lucky with Miss Belle, or if she’s simply used to long car trips because we’ve done them every few months since she was a baby. But these things are what work for us.

Do you have any other tips for long car trips with toddlers? If so leave them in the comments box below.

Easy tips for surviving long car trips with toddlers. How to entertain kids on long car journeys. #parenthacks #tipsforcartrips #cartripswithkids #toddlers



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  1. 17th April 2017 / 11:42 am

    Why should parents take responsibility for entertaining their kids in the car exactly? We need to stop spoon feeding our kids. Let them entertain themselves once in a while. What do you say?

    • thisismenow
      18th April 2017 / 1:29 pm

      Sorry but I don’t think talking and singing to my child is spoon feeding her?! Each to their own, I’m just suggesting what keeps us safe and happy in the car.

  2. I think these are great tips and I disagree that they are spoon feeding. I chat to my husband in the car so I don’t see giving a toddler interaction is any different. Sometimes my daughter goes quiet and looks out the window so I let her be. But otherwise I sing and chat too. I’ve never done a long car journey without her dad but am doing one in a couple of months. I’ll definitely be stopping for a break of she’s not fallen asleep! #FamilyFun

  3. 20th April 2017 / 10:19 pm

    Really good tips here. We just survived a long road trip to France 8 and 9 were really important. We also bought a couple of CBeebies and Peppa Pig magazines which went down quite well too. #familyfunlinky

    • thisismenow
      22nd April 2017 / 8:29 am

      Ah magazines are a great idea I’ll definitely try that next time thank you!

  4. 21st April 2017 / 6:01 pm

    It’s great that you’ve discovered ways in which to entertain your tots. We normally provide the girls with cuddly toys (Lamaze) and board books too. #FamilyFun

    • thisismenow
      22nd April 2017 / 8:29 am

      Yeh cuddly toys are a must too – though ours often get thrown about! Thanks for reading x

  5. 22nd April 2017 / 7:45 am

    I don’t actually like car journeys with toddlers, I would sooner board a flight – weird huh. We drive 4.5 hours to Wales earlier this year and my 2.5 year old didn’t sleep once WTF? Anywho your tips are fab, I always plan around naps, come stacked with snacks, and end up singing the whole damn way. The only thing I have found now, potty trained toddlers bring a whole new dimension to car travel – argh. Thanks for joining us at #familyfun

    • thisismenow
      22nd April 2017 / 8:28 am

      Oh man yes I guess they do!!

  6. 23rd April 2017 / 9:01 pm

    Ben is fine until the car stops so for us our issue is if we run into traffic. For now listening to little mix on repeat works – much to hubby’s annoyance! thank god they’ve released a new song! #familyfun

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