How to Survive a Road-Trip with a Toddler (without going bonkers)


My daughter just turned thirteen months old when we took a very long road trip that began in Cornwall, then Bristol-Birmingham-Chester-he Pennines, and ended in Loch Awe, on the West Coast of Scotland.  That’s roughly about seven hundred miles (I think).  All parents of toddlers know that to travel this far without going bonkers is a feat.

Of course we didn’t travel non-stop that would have been an impossibility – especially with a toddler.  We stopped in Bristol for a couple of days to stay with a close friend.  We stopped again over night in Birmingham to stay with another friend.  And of course, we stayed overnight in Chester and a couple of nights in the Pennines before heading for our little cabin by the woods in Scotland.

That’s one important tip when travelling with a toddler: do loads of stops. Don’t expect your toddler to follow a schedule, because when you’re a parent of a toddler, there’s no such thing as sticking to a schedule.  It’s just the way it is.  They are not being difficult and not being bratty.   As parents we just have to accept that toddlers are difficult. It’s not them.  It’s just a phase that most toddlers go through.  They’re not being manipulative, they are just being toddlers.  That’s just the way it is.  End of argument.

During the planning stage of the trip, I spent some agonizing nights thinking about the long arduous trip ahead of us. I wasted my time imagining difficult scenarios, my daughter screaming non-stop, me and my husband arguing non-stop about how to deal with it.  You know what, yes it was difficult.  Yes, for a time she was crying non-stop, and yes, I was frustrated and yes, we argued about it.  But it was actually fine.  We actually survived it and even enjoyed and loved every minute of our road trip.

So if you’re thinking of going on that long road trip with a toddler but wondering if you’ll survive it.  The answer is: yes.

Here are some tips that may help:

1.   Like I mentioned, do loads of stops, especially when your toddler begins to get impatient and frustrated about being stuck in the car seat.  Try to find a place where there is ample space for them to have a little toddle around.  Hopefully, this running around would tire them out and then fall asleep till you arrive in your next destination.

2.  We don’t have a DVD player in our car.  But we brought her favourite toys, lots of books, and kiddie magazines all within her reach.  If your toddler is like my daughter who loves books, once they start whinging this will do the trick.

3.  Have a few kiddie cds in your car.  Once they get bored with the books/magazines and toys.  Just play the cd and sing along with it.  That will save you another one hour at least of whinge-less moments.

4.  Make sure you don’t run out of fun snacks for your little toddler.

5.  The next tip can also be used on long flights with a toddler.  Before the trip, wrap small little pressies for them. Just cheap ones you can find in poundland, or it could even be chocolate or sweets.  Give these presents after each leg of the trip, as a prize for being good.  Yes, I know its bribery.  But it works!

Filed under Little Trips/Travels

I'm a part-time writer, full-time mother and dog-walker living in a small English village by the sea with my husband, daughter and a dog named Doc.


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    • Ugh. We do occasionally hear the beginning of In the Night Garden and it still instantly takes us back to that long, long, long trip.

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