Genius Road Trip Travel Hacks for Young Kids in 2024

Inside: You’ll find genius road trip travel hacks for kids, specifically toddlers and babies! So, fi you are a new parent planning your first family trip, follow these favorite travel hacks for a painless road trip for all family members involved.


Genius Road Trip Travel Hacks for Kids – Toddlers Edition

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Are you gearing up for a road trip adventure with your little ones in tow? I know, the thought of traveling with babies and toddlers can sound more like a mission to Mars than a relaxing getaway.

But don’t worry!

I’ve been down that road (quite literally) and survived to tell the tale. 

So, grab a cup of your favorite beverage, and let’s chat about how you can turn what might seem like an overwhelming journey into an enjoyable and memorable experience for your family.

From the art of perfect timing to the essentials you can’t leave behind, I’ve got some tried-and-true hacks to share that will make your road trip with your tiny travel companions a whole lot smoother. Buckle up, and let’s dive in!


The Key Successful Family Road Trips

Before we dive into the genius travel hacks I have waiting for you, let’s talk about the key to any successful road trip: patience, preparation, and knowing that there will be hiccups.

Let me quickly share my personal experience. Within my sons first year of life, we had close to a dozen road trips together. And I’m not talking about a a quick one-hour drive. My road trips with my toddler range from 2-hour to 12-hour stretches.

I attribute all of my smooth road trips with my toddler to the key road trip hacks I followed. That’s why I put together my top road trip must-have hacks and travel items for babies and toddlers. These helpful tips for road trips with toddlers or babies will be key to a smooth ride for all.

So, let’s go over all of the road trip must-have travel items for babies and toddlers.

Family Vacation Pre-Trip Planning

There are a few things to consider when preparing: choosing when to travel, route and destination planning, and packing essentials.

Schedule Around Naps

Try to schedule when you leave around nap time. This is one of my favorite hacks because it buys you some time. 

Now, the best time to drive with a baby is going to vary for each child. However, keeping track of your child’s nap times and preferred schedule will help you so much with planning. If your child naps for long stretches in the morning hours, then that is a more ideal time to plan to do a longer stretch on the road. 

One mistake I see way too many new parents make is trying to drive all night while the baby sleeps. So, if you go the night route, it’s crucial to switch drivers.

Otherwise, you’re going to have two tired parents the next morning. You don’t want both of you yawning the next day – trust me. If you do plan to drive at night with your little ones, I strongly recommend taking a test drive to see how your child does. 

Route and Destination Planning

Make sure to schedule breaks. This one is hard to plan out, so it’s smart to play it by ear. If your toddler is getting antsy in the car and starting to melt down, find a good place to stop so he can run around and blow off some energy.

Another smart tip is to do research to find rest stops and playgrounds along your route. These areas will more than likely have more room for your toddler to run around and will probably be much more fun for your little ones. You’ll thank yourself later for finding a great place to break instead of random stops.

PRO TIP:  Pack mini bottles of bubbles, a Frisbee, or ball that can help kids get active when you stop along your route at rest stops and parks. Check out some fun options here

Packing Essentials

Once you’re on the road, you want it to go as seamlessly as possible, so the packing list is very important. This will vary for each family, but I strongly suggest making packing lists not only for your destination but for the road trip, too.

What will you need in the car?

  • Snacks
  • Extra diapers
  • Spare clothes
  • Phone chargers
  • Ziplok baggies for dirty clothes
  • Toys
  • Tablet
  • First aid kit,
  • Plus, any other essentials you want on the list.


Road Trip Travel Hacks For Travel Day

There is more you’ll want to consider once you are on the road with the whole family in tow. Some of these things include entertaining your young children, snacks and meal time, how to manage sleep and naps, and dealing with motion sickness.

How To Keep Your Kids Entertained

Your baby will need some form of mental stimulation that is suitable for a car environment. 

One great idea is instead of sitting in the passenger seat, take turns sitting in the back with your baby or toddler to entertain and interact with him or her. It works great for my family, and I always recommend it for parents taking a road trip with a baby or toddler.

Pack Toys and Activities For The Car Ride

Bring lots of toys and activity options for your toddler to do in the car. Buy a special new toy or two for each vacation, too. You should also store a separate stash of hidden travel toys to keep old favorites fresh on each trip. Store different toys and activities in their own Ziploc bag or even clear packing cubes to keep things organized.

Here are some ideas for activities:

  • Dry-erase markers and dry-erase board
  • Reusable stickers and sticker books
  • Fidget toys
  • Books
  • Sketchbook with a spiral-bound notebook and mess-free markers

I have a whole Amazon list put together for you here!

PRO TIP: Don’t bring crayons for road trips because they can melt if you leave them in the car.


Use An Activity Desk 

One of my favorite things for long drives is the activity desk. You know all of those toys and activities I just told you to pack. Well, you’re going to want an activity desk so your little ones can play on it. It should fit perfectly over the car seat!  Oh, and a bonus is it acts as a food tray, too!



Lusso Gear Kids Travel Tray for Toddler & Kids Car Seat, Lap Tray for Airplane, Kids Travel Desk Essential Accessories, Table Tray for Road Trip Activities (Black)


Allow Your Child Screen Time

Okay, even if you don’t allow your child screen time, hear me out. You may want to bend the rules for your next trip with a toddler or baby. It will keep your child occupied and happy for a very long time and also allow you some time to relax.

Download some kid-friendly movies or educational videos from your streaming services and also some educational apps, and your kids will be happy campers.

I download a few from each of my streaming services to make sure there is always enough variety. You can even download some educational apps for them to play!Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids tablet, ages 3-7. Top-selling 8" kids tablet on Amazon - 2022 | ad-free content with parental controls included, 13-hr battery, 32 GB, Purple

Bring Lots of Snacks

Pack plenty of snacks not only for your small children but for the adults, too! 

Once you think you have enough, add more. An excess of snack items, and also plenty for you, is never a bad thing to have.

I recommend packing some healthy snacks and drinks for the journey, along with some fun snacks your toddler may not get very often, like cookies, brownies, chips, etc.

You can also keep a small cooler for items that need to stay cool, like hard-boiled eggs, bottles, cheese sticks, sandwiches, and juices. Slowly give these goodies to your children throughout your ride to get the most bang for your snack bucks.

Here are some go-to snacks:

You can check out my Amazon Snack List here!


If you want to hold their attention even longer, I highly suggest you pack snacks in a snack wheel or bento box. The snack wheel is such a fun way for your kids to decide what snack they want and to keep switching it up. A bento box is a great idea for older toddlers!

GoBe Kids Snack Spinner Bundle with Hand Strap and Sticker Sheet - Reusable Snack Container with 5 Compartment Dispenser and Lid | BPA and PVC Free | Dishwasher Safe | No Spill, Leakproof


It’s also a part of the Amazon Snack List, but you can CLICK HERE to go directly to it!


Managing Sleep and Naps

As mentioned earlier, the top strategies you can implement for family travel day are timing the drive-around naps and sleep schedules. I have another great tip for you though!  

Someone told me this tip before a 12-hour road trip, and it worked like a charm. Sync your Spotify to your Bluetooth so it plays throughout the entire vehicle. Now, you’ll want to find a sound machine playlist!

All you have to do is type in “sound machine” in the search bar, and lots of different options pop up. I like the Ocean Waves playlist, because not only is it soothing, but it is 181 minutes long.


Travel Hacks for Kids - Spotify Sound Machine Playlist


If you search “12 hour Sound Machines”, you will find a huge list of other options, too! The link above worked best for us, though.

Of course, you can also use your own apps for this, but Spotify is just an easy option!

Pack a Clean-Up and Emergency Kit

There are bound to be messes during your road trip with a toddler, so I highly recommend keeping a clean-up kit ready to go. You may also run into some motion sickness, so this is good to have on hand!  

I stock mine with:

  • hand sanitizer
  • 2 towels
  • napkins
  • wet wipes
  • a lint roller
  • plastic bags (or if you have a dog you can just use the doggy poop bags).

You should also have a Car Emergency Kit on hand, which includes a first-aid kit. There are lots of great options on Amazon, so you can definitely choose which one will be suit your needs, but here is the one I have in each of my cars:


Keep the kit under the seat or somewhere that is out of sight, but also easy access. 

Use a Car Organizer

The last thing you’ll want for your road trip is a car organizer.  Organizers are a godsend during a long trip. It keeps everything in one designated area and within reach. A true essential to keep your kids happy in the car. 

It allows everything to be within easy reach, from toys, tablets, and pencils to a water bottle and snacks. No need to waste extra time looking for stuff


J.L. Childress Backseat Butler Car Organizer, Storage for Kids Drinks, Snacks, Bottles, and Toys. Includes 2 Cupholders and 10 Side Pockets, Portable and Easy to Clean, Black

PRO TIP:  Hit up the Dollar Store & the Target dollar bins for cheap toys. You can give your child a new surprise toy every hour to keep them interested and happy.


Wrapping Up: Road Trip Hacks for New Parents

So there you have it! The road trip hacks and items for parents to survive their first road trip.  I hope that my hundreds of logged hours in the car with my toddler will help your baby roadtripping go smoothly! I know it can be overwhelming, but take a deep breath and know it will go much smoother now that you are prepared.

Did you find my road trip hacks useful? What other questions about traveling with a baby or toddler do you have? I am always happy to answer and chat with you! Comment below!

LOOKING FOR TIPS ON FLYING? Check out my Hacks for flying with your toddler!







About Morgan Wender

I’m a boy mom, dog mom, bee mom, lover of all things Disney, and lover of making the best out of this chaotic life of mine. I created this platform to share my life, and help normalize “big topic” motherhood issues. I hope you enjoy my mix of life, love, levity, and everything in between.Now that you know a little about me, I would love to know more about you! Find me over on Instagram, and shoot me a DM if you would like to chat!the journey

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Hi, I’m Morgan! I created this platform to be able to share my life, help normalize big topic motherhood issues, and help simplify all the things I learned the complicated way. I hope you enjoy my mix of life, love, levity, and everything in between

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