October 10, 2018

Roadtripping Tips with a Toddler

Allie shares 5 useful toddler car tips to maximize vacation success and minimize meltdowns.

When my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our daughter, one of our first concerns was maintaining our spontaneous lifestyle with a baby in tow.

Living in California, we have so many beautiful day-trip and weekend vacation opportunities right at our fingertips, and with mild weather for the majority of the year, we’ve always been able to just pick a place, pack a bag, and leave without a care in the world!

Needless to say, things have changed a bit since our little girl was born… Our family recently took a (somewhat) last-minute road trip to the California coast, and everything went very smoothly, despite having a walking one-year old running the show.

This is not our first rodeo, and trust me, other trips have not been as successful, but with a year of experience under our belts, my husband and I now have some guidelines we ALWAYS abide by when vacationing with a baby.

Tip 1: Accept the challenge

Yes, roadtripping with a baby is downright frightening. Yes, you may have to stop more than once to change a diaper or have a feeding. Yes, they may not sleep well the entire trip, and yes, you might be a total zombie.

If you can accept that certain difficulties may arise and mentally prepare for them ahead of time - you may not be in control of the unknown - but at least you will be in control of your peace of mind.

My husband and I think of traveling with our baby like a Nike ad: Just do it. Mind over matter, right?

Tip 2: If it fits, pack it!

Sure, it might feel like you’ve brought your baby’s entire nursery along for the trip, but it’s much better to need something and have it than to need it and NOT have it.

When we leave town, we always pack extra sheets for the portable crib, way too many diapers, all Molly’s medicine, like the Nosefrida, Tylenol, etc., clothes for every climate, and even the baby monitor, because you never know what might come in handy.

So, if it fits, just pack it!

Our Pack 'n Play is always essential for road trips and we always rely on the Graco Newborn Napper when traveling. It's lightweight, folds up nicely, and is great for on-the-go.

Tip 3: Keep sleep schedules in mind

This one is tricky because each baby and travel situation is unique. We know that Molly is an excellent sleeper in the car, so we always try to time our drive with either her morning or afternoon nap.

This trip, we decided to wait out the Friday traffic and got her dressed and fed and put her in the car around bedtime. When we got to our destination, we delicately moved her from the carseat to the Pack ‘n Play, and she was none the wiser.

However, I know that some babies do not sleep well in the car, so perhaps timing travels with awake time instead of naps would be best. If you’re really concerned about sleep during your road trip or any vacation, contact Fast Asleep Consulting for advice from a certified sleep coach!

Read our article on Sleep Success here.


I cannot stress Tip 4 enough. When you know your toddler has had adequate sleep and isn’t sick or teething or uncomfortable, you can bet your bottom dollar their meltdown is hunger-related.

Milk, juice, crackers, puree pouches – whatever you can fit in your diaper bag, purse, or an easy-access suitcase, PACK IT! We tend to experience the most severe meltdowns with our girl when we stop the car to get gas, or traffic comes to a screeching halt, so having snacks handy is a life-saver.

Snacks also kept us going on the beach, shopping, and waiting at restaurants for actual food to arrive. Just have them on you and anticipate their needs.

Tip 5: Have fun!

If you’re stressed about travelling, your kid will be, too. Isn’t it crazy how they vibe off all our moods, both good and bad?

If you’re enjoying the vacation (no matter how sleep deprived, dirty, or chaotic everything might be), your child will enjoy it, too.

The whole point of making these trips is to create memories with your family, so come prepared, get in the right mindset, and have a blast! You got this, mama!

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