Let’s be real: Long car rides try the patience of even the most laid-back adult. Hours of traffic, unfamiliar roads, and bad weather conditions are nobody’s idea of a good time. Add in a screaming, fidgety toddler and you have the makings of a nightmare road trip.
The success or failure of taking a long car ride with a toddler all depends on having the right gear and a few key essentials stashed away for the journey. Any help you can get in the behavior-managing department will make the trip more bearable. (And maybe even enjoyable!) Start with these ideas for distracting, calming, and entertaining toddlers during your long trip.
Stash your double wall travel mug in the cup holder—but not before you fill it with fresh-brewed coffee. Look for a mug with a leak-proof seal, so it won’t spill every time you hit a pothole. On extra-long drives, the double wall keeps coffee and tea hot (or cold) longer. An easy one-handed click open or closed design makes it safe to sip without taking your eyes off the road.
Need to know: Toddlers can sip along with you with this pint-size, leak-free water bottle featuring a retractable straw.
Snack on Something Healthy
The only thing worse than a hyper toddler? A hungry toddler. Stuff a kid-friendly snack cup with crackers or dry cereal. The easy-grip handle helps little hands hang on tight, while a partially perforated, flexible cover lets kids stick their fingers inside the cup to grab a snack without food flying everywhere. Make yourself a snack pack, too: Fill a plastic smart seal container set with pretzels, nuts, and baby carrots.
Need to know: Skip the string cheese and go for the Cheerios—dairy items require refrigeration that’s tricky to do right during extended car rides.
Just about any distraction is your best friend during long car rides with toddlers. That means movies, simple games on a tablet, and any other form of (quiet) entertainment you can think of. Load your phone with fun songs, pack a couple of action figures, and bring toys that kids can play with in their seats.
Need to know: Help your toddler pick out movies or music the day before the trip. Build positive association with the car ride by explaining that your toddler will only be able to watch the video once the trip is underway.
Carry a Potty
Some toddlers are potty trained earlier while others may take longer. Either way, your youngster might be fussy using a public restroom for a pit stop on your car ride. (Even adults would rather avoid the gas station bathroom!) It’s smart to be prepared with a potty you can travel with making it super-easy to stop and help your toddler go.
Need to know: Stash sanitizing wipes in an easy-to-carry dispenser that you can attach to your tote or diaper bag for painless post-potty cleanups.