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Old 07-04-2012, 09:38 AM   #1
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Advice on taking a toddler on a long car trip

DH and I are going to the gulf for 3 days and taking our 18 month old with us. It's about an 8 hour trip, which will be his longest, and I'm admittedly pretty nervous about how well he's going to do with it. He's a laid back baby, but being in the car that long would make anyone irritable. What are some things we could do to keep him happy? We don't have a portable DVD player, and he doesn't watch tv/movies anyway, he's just never been interested. We also can't decide if we should wake up really early and leave while he's still a little sleepy, or if we should let him wake up on his own and leave after his normal morning milk/breakfast routine. We only have 3 days, so we can't break up the driving. We've also thought about leaving at night so he could just sleep the whole way but I feel like that'll leave DH and I miserably tired and without sleep when we get there. Thoughts? Thanks!

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Old 07-04-2012, 09:42 AM   #2
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We are going to Gulf Shores in August. My boys are a little older but hate riding in the car. We are leaving at night. I can't sleep in the car, so I will drive first and my dh can take a nap. Then when we get there I will take a nap. That's the plan anyway!

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Old 07-04-2012, 09:50 AM   #3
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Re: Advice on taking a toddler on a long car trip

I would leave very early. Like 4a at the latest. That way you can get some sleep the night before, he will sleep like 1/2 the trip, you stop for breakfast and let him run around, and you still will arrive in early afternoon.
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Old 07-04-2012, 09:53 AM   #4
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There are a lot of people that swear by leaving in the night but it's not guaranteed to work well for the kids and makes the parents sleepy and miserable, IMO. I wouldn't do it.

We just got back from a trip with our kids and DS is 19 mos. We went with our in laws and the kids rode with them most of the time. I think it was more entertaining/exciting to be with their grandparents and in a new car they aren't used to. We also had lots of little snacks to give them. I might look into a DVD player or something that will play DVDs. Even if he doesn't watch them at home, he may be interested while cooped up in the car. Also, go to the dollar store and pick up some cheap toys. Give them to him one at a time as he gets bored/fussy. That helped us on a long trip with DD when she was about that age. Also, plan your trip to make long stops and at places you can get out and let your DS run and burn off some energy. Good luck!!

Gulf Shores is fun! I went there every summer as a kid and have great memories. It's also about that far of a distance for us. I wonder if we live close? I'm on my phone so can't see people's locations if they have one listed.
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Old 07-04-2012, 09:55 AM   #5
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Re: Advice on taking a toddler on a long car trip

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I would leave very early. Like 4a at the latest. That way you can get some sleep the night before, he will sleep like 1/2 the trip, you stop for breakfast and let him run around, and you still will arrive in early afternoon.
definitely agree with this! and bring plenty of snacks and a variety of toys...rotate the toys out as he starts to get bored with one
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Old 07-04-2012, 10:05 AM   #6
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Re: Advice on taking a toddler on a long car trip

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I would leave very early. Like 4a at the latest. That way you can get some sleep the night before, he will sleep like 1/2 the trip, you stop for breakfast and let him run around, and you still will arrive in early afternoon.
This might backfire.

With DD we left at night. About her normal bed time. She did not crash til 6am! Talk about a rough trip! Keeping a toddler entertained at night isn't easy.
I would leave after breakfast or if you allow it eat breakfast in the car. Things we used for her were snacks, color wonder kits, crayons, fun kid songs in car..CD of them. We never had a DVD player and we drove 24 hrs straight through going and did it in two days going back. 8 hrs seems like cake to me obviously. I even rode with a toddler and newborn 8 hrs as a teen. Worst that I had happen was my cousin(toddler) put his hand which was full of chocolate chip cookie mess on my face.
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Old 07-04-2012, 10:10 AM   #7
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We always leave at night. I always take a nap during the day before we leave so I am ready to drive. Our boys sleep most of the time so it is an easy drive for us. We drive 14 hours every year to FL. Our boys do have iPods but they rarely use them now with us leaving at night.
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Old 07-04-2012, 10:22 AM   #8
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Re: Advice on taking a toddler on a long car trip

I prefer to leave at night, and we bring a laptop for movies. DS was never really that into movies at that age either, but when there is nothing else to do, it helps cut the boredom.
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Old 07-04-2012, 10:22 AM   #9
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We leave at night also and trade off driving. We did a 14 hour road trip to FL last summer that way. Doing it again in September.

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Old 07-04-2012, 10:32 AM   #10
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We used to do the night driving. The kids would sleep all night, so it worked well.Now that they are older (2 and 3), we go on long car rides after breakfast. We bring toys and books to rotate, snacks, and stop for meals, potty breaks, and exercise. We've driven to several different states this way.

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