Inside My Mommy Brain!

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Toddlers and Tips for Road Trips

on October 8, 2013

I have read horror stories about people taking road trips with toddlers. Non stop screaming, fussy, just angry, toys being flung about and I realize how blessed I am to have an almost 2 year old that loves going on long trips.

Like any child she has her moments; she wants to go for a walk, get out of the car, or is hungry and mommy doesn’t have a place that looks trustworthy to stop.

I think I’m lucky because we’ve traveled a lot by car from the time the small one was about 6 weeks old. We tucked her in the car and went to my dad’s for Christmas.  She slept most of the way, woke up to occasionally to eat and went back to sleep.  I can say I do not recommend pumping breast milk, even if you are the passenger and even if your breast pump uses batteries or has an outlet for the car, in the car, doing 70ish + mph on the interstate. Even using a cover up people are kinda nosy.

Then, every few weeks/months we’d take another trip.  We’ve driven from North Carolina to South Carolina, Virginia, around North Carolina, to New York, Then the small one and I have made several trips from New York to Virginia and Kentucky alone.  It’s actually really nice and fun for us.  She’s used to the long car trips and we plan our stops and our route so we can do some fun things, walk around, and have an adventure or two along the way.

Here are my tips to taking a road trip with your small, even if you’re a breastfeeding mom alone:


  • Know your route –  before you go, use an atlas, GPS, or a site like Mapquest or Google Maps to map out where you are going and look for traffic delays. If you have AAA, they offer free maps and Trip Tiks.
  • Try to plan your stops – If you know your route and you know your kids “timeline” eating, pooping, fussy, then you can loosely plan pit stops along the way.  If you are traveling by interstate, most have websites that list their rest areas and if they are patrolled by state troopers.
  • Have Healthy Car Snacks – I love the GoGo Squeez applesauce pouches for this. If we stop for a quick snack, these little pouches are quick, fairly non-messy, and the pouches are recyclable. They also do not require refrigeration.
  • Organize your car – Keep those things you’ll need to get to quickly and easily, within reach.  Use a organizer to keep diapers, wipes, snack, toys, a change of clothes, bottles, milk, bottled water, mommy/daddy snacks quickly, easily, and safely accessible.   Use a trunk organizer. If you don’t need it, put it in the trunk.  If there’s an accident, the more stuff you have in the front of your car, the more potential harm you can cause.  I try to keep only soft toys and stuffed animals to play with.
  • MAKE LISTS – Make a list of all the things you need for yourself and your toddler on a daily basis; take into account if where you are going has stores and the items available.  I know many people are going, say what? Of course there are stores, not always.  I travel to some rural places with my tiny tot and you’d be surprised at what may not be available. Seriously, make the list. The first time I tried this I made the list and still left the “pre-squeezed” breast milk and the emergency supply of formula at home.  A list also let’s you evaluate what’s a need versus a want.  When you travel by car, your space is limited.  I tend to over pack for everything; I am a woman.  However, I quickly realized the stroller and the baby backpack (greatest invention ever by the way) really both didn’t need to go.
  • Charge all the electronics the night before the trip – make sure all your electronics, GPS, Cell Phone, Tablet, Camera, MP3 player (I know, I know, I’m going old school, but my 7-year-old Sansa e260 has a lot longer battery life than hooking my phone to the car) etc, is charged before you actually get in the car. Unless you have a new super car then your outlets are going to be limited.
  • Paperwork – Do you have your driver’s license?  Do you have your insurance information in the car? Do you have your medical insurance cards? The other thing here, if you are a someone who may be taking children that are not your out of the state with the parent’s permission of course, you may need something in writing from the parent’s allowing you to authorize medical care if something happens to the kid(s).  I know my aunts and uncles if they were taking any of their nieces and nephews for more than a couple of days and were a decent distance away from the family, they would have our mom write out permission.  I don’t know what the current laws are; I haven’t researched them in several years.


  •  Keep the things you need close by – I know this seems like the same thing as organize your car but I promise it’s a little different.  Especially, if you are traveling as the lone adult there are somethings you need to keep handy. Toys, the soft ones, keep them close, I put them in the front seat organizer, one pouch of toddler snacks, some granola for me, and a bottle of water.  I found the Small one  likes to change out toys, so when we start the trip with all the toys, allowed in the car, up front with mommy, then they are handed one at a time carefully back to her as she gets bored with them.  Generally, by the time we stop, she’s went through the supply, I re-organize and re-load the the front seat organizer, rinse and repeat. Organize the front area before leaving the parking lot.
  • Cell Phones – Cell phone safety, you have your child in the car with you, you do not need to text or talk while driving. My Droid has something called Smart Actions, that let’s me set the phone to automatically answer text messages with a standard, “I’m currently driving, I will return your text when I am able to safely do so”  it stops the phone alerts as well so there are no distractions.
  • Make frequent stops – your legs and your toddler will thank you.
  • Be prepared to stop for the night –  Sometimes the small ones just can’t take the car trip, they need to get out, or they just need to rest.  Keep the possibility of stopping for the night an option.
  • Enjoy the trip –  many times we get so caught up in “Did we pack everything?, Are we making decent time?, Are we…blah blah blah.  Who cares? You’re on a long road trip with the greatest little person in your life.  Use it to make some memories.

Again, I’m not safety or travel expert, just a mommy who loves road trips and these are just a few tips I use to make my life easier.  The small one and I have put more than 7,000 miles on the car together and most of it has been great!


Links to some of the websites I use to plan and order travel supplies:, search for Car Organizers, use code MXNI015347 to save 20% on your first order, great car organizers as well! – this is the link to the backpack, I’ve used it since she was old enough to sit up on her own and still do.


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