Traveling with a young toddler

jessica_ohAugust 7, 2004

In about a month we'll be taking a 14hr drive to Fl. with our (then) 19month old. I know the basics like leaving at his bed time to get as much driving time as we can in. I know the types of foods to pack (I've traveled this trip a hundred times in my life).

However, I've never done with with a toddler. I have searched ideas for traveling with kids and so many are geared to older kids.

What can I do to keep him entertained on the trip. We'll take regular breaks at rest stops to eat our lunch and let him run around and play (bubbles, balls, etc.) But what about the car.

We have a portable DVD player specifically for this. But I don't want him watching tv for 14hrs straight.

Toy ideas please???



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We have made several long trips with our son - at six months, 10 months, one year, 18 months and 22 months. (If I remember all the trips right...) All kids are probably so different on what gets and holds their attention, but for our son books were the ticket. I would look for books with lots of flaps to lift or the musical books - anything different and 'busy.' I would buy about 5 or so books and give him a new one whenever he seemed bored. One time we went through four books in an hour - I was worried about that trip - but the 4th book held his attention the rest of the trip there and back!
Your son is at an odd age for toys, I think. Or at least, I have found that to be an odd age for our son. He is too old for 'baby' toys but too young for other ones. If he likes trucks - our son has a Fisher Price set of four stacking trucks - each one has a different noise or function. They cup inside each other so they wouldn't take up much room in your vehicle.
If you live in an area with a teacher supply store, you might want to check out toys there. I have gotten my son some great educational toys that are so different than you find at the department stores. I always have people ask where I found one item or another. They would probably have some primary puzzles that he could do with some help.
Also - we try to schedule our stops either at Cracker Barrel or a shopping center with a Barnes and Noble bookstore in it. I am not a big fan of CB's food, but it is a great kid-friendly place and you can sit and rock while your son stretches his legs. Our son is a big Thomas the Train fan and most B&N have train tables set up in their kid's book section - another great place for them to get our and walk around for awhile.
Best wishes. ~ Suzie

    Bookmark   August 8, 2004 at 3:12PM
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If you're leaving, he should probably sleep all but a few hours. It's a 14 hour drive from here in NM to the grandparent's houses in AR. My kids (4 yo, 2 yo, and 9.5 mo) will maybe stay awake for an hour after we leave due to the excitement, but sleep most of the rest of the way.

The videos hold us over pretty good. As long as they have milk and snacks, they are pretty good. We also make a game out of spotting windmills, pump jacks, trains, and drilling rigs as we travel through TX and OK. As we go into AR, we're really happy to see green grass, water, and trees. It's been a while since I've been to FL so I can't remember the local "sights",(like lighthouses) but maybe you could make a game out of that. If you're traveling straight roads, car sickness and looking out side windows shouldn't be a problem.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2004 at 1:50PM
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Even now, at six, my DD will watch a couple of DVD's but mostly nap when we travel the eight hours to our family's house.

You'll be stopping to change diapers and take a break. When you do, make sure the little one runs around and gets some exercise. This will help with regularity. My DD would always get constipated if we didn't stop and let her run and walk and exercise.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2004 at 7:34AM
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What worked for me are those magnet "books". It's a magnetic board with a picture and some magnets. We have a dinosaur one and a town scene one that my kids just love. Magnadoodles are fun too, but they never held my son's attention as long as the books.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2004 at 2:50PM
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A roll of scotch tape kept my toddler busy for hours during an 8 hour long flight :)

    Bookmark   August 12, 2004 at 9:13PM
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Oh, I am envious of you with kids that will sleep in their car seats! Our son has never slept in the car, not even during his normal nap time.
Re: Magnetic books. I was going to suggest that, too. We bought one during one of our long trips. Son loves it - think he must have been about your son's age when we got it. The only downside - there are a lot of small pieces that can get lost in a car!
DH just told me last night he wants to drive from Texas to Denver to Omaha and back to Texas. Ugh. Can't even imagine! ~ Suzie

    Bookmark   August 14, 2004 at 12:50PM
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I guess I'm in the minority here because I didn't mind using the videos as much as they could possibly stand it. Of course, I made a trip from northern Colorado to Orlando and back (37 hours in the car each way) by myself with a 32 month old and a 21 month old. I didn't have anyone to help me with handing them dropped toys or books, so videos were the easiest for me. It was Barney and Blue's Clues all the way!! Meals and breaks were at McDonald's with Playlands and we spent the night at motels with indoor pools so that they could get lots of exercise when not in the car. It was not a difficult trip, but I was a little sick of Barney and Steve by the time I got home. Kept them happy, though.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2004 at 7:03PM
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My 2.5 year old niece (who lives with me) loves to sing in the car - and anywhere else. When I was young, my family often sang in the car, too. I loved it.

We sing old favorites and make up silly songs to familiar tunes. I usually make up songs about where we're going and who we'll see.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2004 at 3:04AM
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On the videos, we also watch a LOT of Thomas the Tank engine. DH got sick of it so he made a 6 hour tape of several of the kid's favorite shows from the Disney channel. It lasts longer without having to rewind the tape and you can limit the repetitive viewing.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2004 at 11:19AM
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As a mom of three boys, and as a mom who has travelled with them as young as 6 weeks out-of-the-country... I have a couple suggestions. First, make sure your run to the dollar store and grab a few cheap little toys (age appropriate, of course) and wrap them up like little presents. Have these handy for rewards during the trip. Also, you might want to see if you are going to go near big cities/towns so you can coordinate so you can have your dinner/lunch/or break to let him run around during traffic hours. Also, a good trick is making the most out of nap time and sleep time. Whether you all start your trip at 4-5am so you get a good 3 hours without stopping or in the evening after 7or 8pm. If you do the evening, it helps running their energy off at a partook so they are exhausted by bed time. As everyone already suggested, DVDs are parent-sanity-savers!!

Oh, and one toy my sons loved as young toddlers is a yellow sesame street button pusheing toy. I forget what it is called, but every button makes a different sound, and it keeps them entertained for a long time... just be ready to put on some ear plugs; as it gets annoying after a while...but it keeps them busy.

Hope this helps and have a great trip to Florida!!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 3:35PM
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