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Toddler Road-Trip Report

Our road trip last weekend from Richmond to Long Island went well – and only took six hours  – but we learned a few things. Mostly, that it’s all about timing.

toddler road trip

Since our two-year-old Marguerite refused to sleep the last time we took this trip to my parents house for Christmas (and the drive took 10 hours that time!) we tried a new approach. Over Christmas we’d left at 2 p.m., which was late for her nap so she never took it and then was cranky and hard to get to fall asleep that evening, too (and we were still in the car). Here’s the whole sad tale.

This time we thought we’d just get going first thing in the morning. So we left at 9 a.m. but since she didn’t get to expend any energy in the morning she refused to nap. Luckily it was early enough in the day that at least she wasn’t overtired and cranky.

What Worked:

We bought a few new toys to break out during the trip. The Splash Art Pad and a couple of puppets were the biggest hits but the puppets required one of us to put on a show, which gets exhausting. I also bought $20 worth of new apps for my iPhone to use in a pinch. We used them on the trip home. Marguerite’s favorites were PBS Kids (which has a ton of shows on it), Monkey Preschool Lunchbox and Elmo Calls.

toddler road trip

On the way home we left at 11 a.m. which worked much better. She got a chance to run around in the morning then had a bottle shortly after we got in the car,  got cozy and dozed off for a 2.5 hour nap. It made for a much more relaxing trip. When she woke the apps and toys entertained her and we were making such good time that instead of stopping for dinner at a rest stop off 95, we stopped at Ikea in Woodbridge, VA to stretch our legs and eat. (Yes, Scott did eat the Ikea meatballs the day before they announced discovering traces of horse meat in them, but I think that might be a price he’s willing to pay for a smooth trip.)

So leaving at the right time for both traffic and nap times ended up being the most important factors in this trip. What are your secrets to successful toddler road trips?


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