Road Trips With Toddlers :: You Must Be Trippin’


In the last 3 years our family has gone on (3) 2 week long road trips. The first trip was with our then 13 month old, CLOTH DIAPERED, daughter. Our second trip was with our then 2 year old daughter and 3 month old son, and we camped at most of our stops to see the national parks. Our third trip was this last Christmas with our 3 year old and 21 month old.

I have come to embrace that we are now the crazy family that jumps in the car with a baby and/or toddler and rides into the sunset praying we survive. It’s daunting for sure. The planning, prepping and packing can all seem futile until the trip begins.

But once you set on the road, you realize that it may have just been worth it…

Road Trip North Phoenix Moms Blog

The following tips I have come to learn are helpful if you choose to venture on a road trip journey with children!

1. Don’t pack too many snacks.

You are NOT leaving civilization. You do not need to bring snacks for the whole trip. Pack for a couple of days. When you get gas or stop for the day/night, you can venture into a store and grab some refills or find some new choices. I made the mistake this last trip of packing enough snacks to survive a blizzard! We didn’t even eat them all by the time we got home. It was ridiculous. All they did was get in the way. You’ll be fine with just a few. I promise! Plus, you can always use the incentive of letting the kids pick out a new snack at the store if they behave!

2. If you think you’ve packed enough activities … you haven’t.

I packed what I thought would be good for maybe the first week….or at least the first few days. I’m pretty sure my 3 year old went through most of them in the first HOUR! “What else did you bring mom?” This was a regular phrase when she was ready for the next item. I worked hard for these items searching Pinterest and gathering craft items and organizing them. It was slightly defeating. But remember, again, that you are not leaving civilization and can grab things on your road trips. Make a list of ideas for along the way and gather what you may need on the road. Or, you can use the space you saved from not bringing too many snacks for more activities. Better yet, you can use it as an incentive to let your kids pick something out at the next stop (for under a certain dollar amount).

Here are a few of the activities I packed:

3. Be flexible.

Be flexible with your time, be flexible with stops, and be flexible with destinations. Just be flexible in general. Road trips cannot be planned out 100% of the time. If the kids get rowdy, find the nearest park and get out and run around for 30 min. If the kids are just over it and so are you, stop and find your resting place even if it’s before your desired destination. If you need encouragement to keep going – treat yo’ self! Oh and be flexible with your body. Having to lean back and rummage through the back of the vehicle for something that got packed away on accident can be quite a daunting task. Sometimes you may need to be flexible with driving all night so the kids sleep just to get farther on the road.

4. Don’t over pack.

Depending on your destination, pack the necessities but also remember that you will be driving most of the time. The kids’ clothing will not get super dirty and even if they do … who needs to be impressed? There are laundromats and there are hotels that launder. The best option is to try and work a stop with family or friends because you can use their machines and have a fresh set of clothes!


Let loose on this trip. As moms, we often find ourselves getting wrangled into being the ones to keep the schedule and the rules.  We’re sometimes the ones who can’t fully relax.  This time, just do it!  I find road trips to be awesome, because I feel like I can let loose and have a more balanced view of everything.

North Phoenix Moms Blog :: Road Trip

Local love shout out to #nphxmoms contributor, Hawks and Honey!  How adorable (and perfect!) are these “you must be road trippin” tees?!  Photo by: Delmara Christen

If there’s anything you can think of to add to this list, or if you taken road trips and have suggestions, I’d love to hear them!  Our family road trips have just begun!


  1. great list. and yes, lots of yoga before road trips all those twists to get fallen items off the floor is exhausting! and yoga at rest stops. but also I want to see photos from all these trips (I’m always looking for destination inspiration)!

  2. Love all of these! We travel often with our kids, now 21 months old and 3.5 years. We don’t watch TV or movies at home so on a road trip we download some new shows and movies. We also keep a box of seek & find/my first encyclopedia books at their reach. They love looking at the pictures over and over again. I also keep a potty handy for my potty training son who doesn’t like to stand to go as well as disposable diapers for my cloth diapered kids. We have less accidents this way.

  3. I love all of these ideas! I am super guilty of overpacking, I’m a “just-in-caser” for sure. One thing we found was really helpful was bringing along our daughter’s training potty. For those times you HAVE TO stop but there isn’t a restroom in sight, we would just pull over, pull out her potty (we put a plastic bag in the seat to catch “it”) and let her sit on it to do her business, while we blocked her from traffic of course. It saved us from trying to get her to squat or not get it all over, and the oh so dreadful “accident” in the car. When she’s done we just tie the bag up and throw it away at the closest stop. Our own little rest stop no matter where we are.

  4. We did a cross country road trip from Ca to NC last May and back to CA in June with a then 2 year old. I would yelp the area for playgrounds for our mid-day stop and we spent our lunch time playing on slides, running around and getting all that energy out. We found some lovely hole in the wall play grounds!! I then did the trip from CA to GA solo with my 2 year old in July – much hotter traveling so we took advantage of the McDonald and Chick Fil-A indoor play places. A definite life saver and I felt safe traveling alone with my little guy. It is harder to find the play place locations so sometimes you just had to chance it and hit the next exit. Happy Traveling – its a lot but so worth it!!


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