Tips for travelling by car with toddlers (Planning a Holiday with a Toddler series)

Holidays with your toddler are a slightly different prospect than when it’s just you and your partner. This blog series provides information on planning a holiday, with part two looking at tips for travelling by car with toddlers.

Planning a holiday with a toddler

I have put together this Planning a Holiday with a Toddler series, covering the questions I ask myself during the planning process and tips for travelling with a toddler:

Tips for travelling by car with toddlers

Driving to your holiday destination is an easy option for lots of reasons: you are in control of your schedule, can be flexible about timings and you have a lot more space to take whatever you think you need for your holiday. Here are the questions I ask myself before we go.

Where will we break our journey?
If we are taking a long drive, we will definitely need to take at least one break. Look at your route in advance and decide on a few possibilities for a rest stop. We like to have options for getting some food, using facilities such as the toilet and having some outdoor space. Motorway service stations are the obvious choice but we also sometimes take a more scenic route to our destination, so being aware of a few pubs and cafes on the way is useful.

Tips for car travel with toddlers

Can we time our journey around a nap?
This is one of our first considerations as, to be honest, it’s a lot easier to do a chunk of the drive when ToddlerGirl is asleep! Luckily, she goes off easily in the car, so we make a plan for our journey depending on when this is likely to happen.

Can we eat lunch on the go?
Now ToddlerGirl is a bit older, she doesn’t need as many breaks in the journey so having a car picnic as we drive is a really good option for keeping our journey time down. We either take a pre-prepared picnic or stop on the way to pick up a few easy items, and one of us will hop in the back with her to eat, while the other carries on driving. The main benefit is that picnicking in the car keeps her amused for up to an hour, which is one hour less we have to keep her happy as we drive!

What entertainment do we need?
Even with a nap and a car picnic, these days ToddlerGirl is likely to be awake and needing some interaction for at least a portion of our journey. We pack a bag that we keep easily accessible with a variety of options:

  • Audio CDs – these are great for long car journeys and ToddlerGirl enjoys listening to well-known stories and songs. We love our Julia Donaldson selection in particular (which includes The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom).
  • Books – we always take a selection of books. I choose a couple of sturdy titles with lots of pictures that she can flick through on her own, as well as some longer stories for one of us to read with her.
  • Soft toys – a few favourite soft toys are great for her to play with in the back of the car. We can encourage her from the front to hold them up to look out of the window, or we can play games with them in the back with her. Puppets are also really good options.
  • Car games – now she is getting older, car games are beginning to be an option for us. We talk about what we can see out of the windows and play simplified versions of I-spy and ‘spot the xx colour car’. I love these suggestions for speaking, listening and thinking games to play with children from Childhood 101.
  • Apps and videos on the tablet  – when all else is wearing thin, we wheel out the big guns: our tablet. We have downloaded a few different programmes, song videos and apps and this will keep ToddlerGirl happily occupied. It’s been a life saver on more than one occasion when we’ve hit huge traffic jams!

Now she is nearly three, I’m also considering adding a tray to her car seat so that she can do a few more activities on her own, such as colouring in or sticker books.

The next post looks at tips for travelling by air with a toddler.

Find links to the whole Planning a Holiday with a Toddler series below:

6 Comments on “Tips for travelling by car with toddlers (Planning a Holiday with a Toddler series)”

  1. Great post, bookmarking for future reference. x


  2. Looks like a very similar life to mine! Nice post

  3. londubheile says:

    Great tips! We also have a mini etch-a-sketch and it keeps her amused for ages!

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