What To Pack for a Long Drive with a Toddler

I have experience now.

long drive with a toddler
These sunglasses lasted longer than most toys for entertainment, but only if he could break them a million times.

My friend and I drove to Texas to visit a girlfriend when my son was 6 months old. A seven-hour drive, and he slept nearly the whole time.

The whole family piled into my in-laws car in 2017, when my son was 11 months old, for a 10-hour drive we split into two days. He didn’t do as well as the Texas trip. But he still did pretty well.

I was still breastfeeding during both of those trips. Any fuss could be nipped (ha) in the bud quickly by a quick pit stop, snack and the ensuing nap.

This trip? Not. So.

Not only am I not breastfeeding, I knew milk wasn’t going to cut it. Plus, it would have been too hard to keep cold.

The toddler has recently been showing off how much of a toddler he can be with the independence and the tantrums and the sass, so I knew I needed more than a few toys and his favorite drink to keep him entertained and satiated — and the rest of us sane — on a two-day, 13-hour PLUS STOPS road trip from Wichita to South Haven.

So I Googled it.

“What to pack for a long drive with a toddler.”

Woof.

Pause Blog for TL;DR

Pack:

  • SNACKS.
  • More snacks.
  • You don’t have enough snacks.
  • Pack more snacks.
  • Favorite stuffed animals, blankies and lovies. Maybe a pillow. (I forgot a pillow.)
  • Coloring books and crayons or a doodle board — or both.
  • Storybooks. (So you can get car sick while trying to entertain him.)
  • Toddler-sized driving steering wheel and dashboard toy.
  • A couple to 100 more snacks.

Back to the Blog

One tip rose above the rest in my research: overpack snacks. Pack ALL the snacks. You think you have enough snacks? Pack more snacks.

Genius.

I dumped a case of applesauce on-the-go pouches in three flavors into the biggest diaper bag I own as well as a box of mixed bagged treats of graham crackers, cheese crackers and “Cheddar Bunnies” — that my son wouldn’t touch, but I sure enjoyed — alongside his go-to favorite strawberry-banana snack bars.

I mean, look at this thing.

what to pack for long drives with a toddler
It’s full of snacks.

A water cup, 25-ounce water bottle for refills and spare milk cup for when we stopped for lunch rounded out this bursting bag.

Of course, I also packed road clothes for potential accidents or diaper leaks of which we only had one — solved in the driveway to the house we were staying in because of an epic tantrum in a grocery store and parking lot during which I gave TF up.

But that’s another blog post.

I did not neglect the need for toys. Food can only be so entertaining… when you crush it up into crumbs to wipe on the adjacent car door or person (me).

I packed one of his collapsable storage cubes to the brim with crayons, coloring books, storybooks, comfort stuffed animals, lovies, blankies and a magnetic doodle board.

pack favorite comfort items when driving with a toddler
ALL the stuffed animals.

I also had a perfectly timed Drive With Me Kiwi&Co. Crate delivery with a cardboard steering wheel and dash. It arrived just three days before we left.

It’s like they knew.

kiwi and co inc tadpole crate drive with me
His favorite part was the temperature control.

I packed his sound machine in the cube to help him sleep in a strange place. As I unplugged it and took it off his dresser, it dawned on me that he’s never touched it. It’s always been on his dresser. He played with it in the car several times. It’s shaped like an owl and has a fascinating amount of buttons.

Rotating snacks, toys and people in the back seat with the toddler kept him mostly entertained and fuss-free.

Mostly.

It’s genius, not toddler-proof.

OntheRoad_43
Nearly home, he lost all sense. His leg was in a Teddy Grahams box. He chewed on his toes. He flailed absent of thought. It was just torment.

Any tips? I’ve got another one of these things planned.

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