How to Survive Long Car Journeys With a Toddler!

travelling with a toddler that is potty training tips what to do advice long car journeys entertainment boredom

Since we’ve had little b, we’ve travelled quite a bit in the car. My parents live a good two hours away, my nana lives a good three hours and Mr D’s granddad is up in Yorkshire! When b was a baby, the journeys were pretty easy. B slept and we’d make a couple of stops for feeds and nappy changes. As b got older and more interested (and bored), the drives started to become more challenging. They usually consisted of me trying to twist and turn to pick up dropped toys, snacks, teddies and blankets. It just wasn’t relaxing and I’d end up peed off, with a bad back! Over the past three years, here are the things that have made long car journeys a bit easier for us. What are your tips?!

Plan! If you know you have a long journey ahead then do some pre-planning. Take a look at the route, familiarise yourself with the service stops and look at what other things you could do along the way. I find just looking on Google Maps is useful to see what’s near the motorway we will travel on. I also find the site Baby Routes really good for stop off ideas! I find planning important because it just isn’t relaxing to scroll through google maps and whatnot on my phone, trying to find somewhere to stop while hubby is asking should we stay on or get off the motorway and toddler is whinging that he is bored. So plan! Plan, plan and plan some more!

Split up the journey. If you are doing a long journey, be sure to split it up with a proper stop, not just a dash to the loo and M&S stop. When we go up to Yorkshire, we stop just off the M1 near Nottingham. This is approximately half way through the journey and is ideal. We found a soft play just off the motorway for wet weather and we found a park (about 10 minutes from the motorway) around Derby. Both have been ideal for getting some lunch and allowing b to have a proper run around.

Entertainment. We got a DVD player for the car and have never looked back. It keeps B entertained and he is quite happy to watch film after film. I’d say it is one of the best “baby/toddler” purchases ever haha!

Snacks. It goes without saying doesn’t it! If you have a toddler, prepare to pack lots of snacks. When b was younger, we found these snack pots in the pound shop were GREAT for journeys. He can get his hand in to get a snack but if he drops the pot, the snacks stay inside. Genius!

baby toddler weaning snack pots snacks food healthy travel children

Swap driving if you can. I don’t know why but Mr D always assumes the driving position on a journey. I actually drive more miles per week than D does so it is quite feasible that I would and could drive our long distance trips! I just tend to migrate to passenger side and he to drivers side! If b starts to get bored of the DVD or needs a bit of a break, I find sitting in the back and reading or playing games is handy. The problem for me, this makes me feel horribly travelsick and anxious. Luckily Mr D has no problem with faffing on his phone or iPad in the back of a car. So this is when we typically swap and I am driver for a bit 🙂

Play some music. It sounds stupid but it doesn’t have to be nursery rhymes for five hours. I don’t think we have EVER played a baby/child CD with nursery rhyme type songs on it. It would drive my up the bloody wall. We just pop on the radio or one of our playlists on Spotify. B is loving the Beatles at the mo, so much so that every car journey he requests “Yellow Submarine”. It’s getting a bit much but if he’s getting twitchy in the back, it goes on and all is calm again 😉 Mr D and I are very much into alternative and heavy metal music. Many a time it lulls b off into a nap when I’d least expect it!


Relax. Sounds stupid but I find if I already feel stressed and het up then this makes the trip a thousand times worse. I’ve learnt to just take a deep breath, keep in mind that the trip WILL end – we will get there and that getting stressed does not help with anything. I’ve also learnt that I can’t do everything and if my son wants to have a moan and a cry about it then so be it – this particularly goes for things that he dropped and I can’t reach them. I’m not stopping on the hard shoulder to pick up the teeny tiny toy I told you NOT to drop!

And on the subject of toys, I don’t mind b having something to play with or hold but if it is small I typically say no or tell him plenty of times that if he drops it, I cannot get it straight away. The best things I’ve found are soft toys that are quite large. If they slide down the side of his seat, I can usually grab them back out!

So there, happy, safe travels!

travelling with a toddler that is potty training tips what to do advice long car journeys entertainment boredom


  1. Some awesome ideas here. I am def getting a dvd player though luckily my tablet has free roaming so I was able to get up youtube episodes of in the night garden on our recent long journey – then we ran out of signal and both the baby and I cried ha ha. Those snack bowls look amazing too!

    Thanks for linking to #ablogginggoodtime

  2. Oh I\’m so glad I read this! We go down to Devon at the weekend, a 300 mile journey with four children! We have a dvd player so I need to remember to charge it up so we can entertain them for at least part of it! #coolmumclub

  3. Ah yes the art of films entertaining toddlers in cars!! Our IPad has been invaluable since having a toddler. Will be sure to check out the pound shop for those pots they look fab!! #coolmumclub

  4. You\’re lucky your little guy doesn\’t get car sick. When my kiddos were smaller they both had plenty of throw-up car trips. I think they\’ve outgrown that now, and they are both older than toddlers now so we can start playing \”reading road signs\” games or \”how many cows in the field\” games. Doesn\’t always stop them from bickering or complaining, but it does give me a few minutes of relative quiet.
    Your list of stuff to do is great. Sounds about right to me. The idea of bigger toys (stuffed animals and such) is great because they really can reach them if (and when) they drop them.

  5. I find the dropping things so annoying, Adam is 6 now and understands more that i can\’t retrieve things, but there are still times that he drops his pencils and gets upset that we won\’t stop to get them straight away. I think remaining calm is a huge help for everyone\’s sake. Great tips! #stayclassy

  6. Oh yes we have so been there – it is definitely a matter of survival and all of this really helps. Thankfully it does get easier the older they get – phew! Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub lovely xx

  7. Last time I did a 4 hour trip on my own with both kids (3 year old and 6 month old), I downloaded a lot of Disney songs onto a CD. It was an absolute hit – The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, the Jungle Book – and made the time fly. That, and lots of snacks! #coolmumclun

  8. Aww we are the same, we\’re a good 3 and a half hours away from family now and car journeys can be he\’ll. My husband doesn\’t drive so luckily for me I don\’t have to deal with all the dropping of toys as I\’m busy driving. I so want a dvd player for the car as my boy does get bored bless him.xx #coolmumclub

  9. I love the snack catcher pot – we majorly need a few! These are great tips, and thank you for sharing the baby routes website as I hadn\’t heard of that and sounds super useful. We did a big trip up to Sheffield when Emma was 5 weeks old and it involved lots of planning indeed. #coolmumclub

  10. Omg absolutely adorable photos! I agree on every level I think snack for the baby and for the parents is key haha. I don\’t have a toddler YET but the music and taking breaks was very useful for me. Thank you for the advice and sharing with #StayClassyMama!

  11. All really great tips. I would add that having an emergency stash, always in your car, especially with a young rider aboard is another smart idea. You never know whey you might get stuck somewhere.

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