parenting · Travels · UK

Surviving long car journeys with a toddler

I have just got home after 5 and a half hours in the car with my 20 month old daughter. When I say 5 and a half hours I really mean 5 and a half hours. That doesn’t include the breaks! I am pretty proud to say that she didn’t shed a single tear and didn’t watch anything on my phone/ipad for the entire journey! It’ll probably never happen again but I’m feeling pretty smug right now so I thought I’d write a little post with a few tips for surviving a long journey!

  1. Try to time your journey around nap times. Obviously this isn’t fool proof. Zara decided to only sleep for 1 hour of our journey today.
  2. Snacks. Need I say more?
  3. Fun packs. I try to pack 2 or 3 different small bags that she can look through and choose what she wants to play with or look at. Today she had 2 different bags and they honestly kept her entertained for ages. I find this works anywhere they have to sit still for a while although Zara is much harder to keep still when she can actually move. At least in the car she understands she cannot get down and run around. It’s worth raiding the toy/party bag section in supermarkets and places like Wilkinsons.

Bag 1 contained

  • 2 books. 1 is small, the other isn’t but does fit in her bag. We have a huge selection of small books that fit easily in my bag or in hers.
  • A small slinky. An example of something from the party bag aisle. I got a bag of about 10 slinky toys for about £3 and Zara loves them.
  • A small etch a sketch (totally had to google how to spell that.). This was a great supermarket purchase and again it fits in my bag or hers if we are out and about. It was £3 in Sainsburys.


Bag 2 contained

  • A plastic toy phone
  • A very noisy toy digger (she played with the digger for about 45 minutes).
  • Her sunglasses because she finds them hilarious and will spend ages taking them on and off.


4. CDs of nursery rhymes. We often use our phones and spotify to play nursery rhymes in the car and then there is a disaster with signal and there are no more nursery rhymes. Also I was driving alone today so couldn’t really fiddle around with my phone. I recently got a CD of action songs and they really cheered Zara up mid journey. Initially they cheered me up too and I enjoyed singing along…until we got to ‘5 Little Monkeys’ and every time the song ended Zara said ‘more ooh ooh ahh ahh’. We listened to the song at least 30 times in a row, I lost count.

5. Naming/looking at vehicles out of the window. This sounds a bit ridiculous but Zara was really happy for ages looking out the window and I would name whatever vehicles were going past. We were in the West country so there were plenty of tractors and caravans to point out.

There we go. A few little ideas for long drives…alternatively you could do what I probably should have done today and waited until bedtime and driven home then! You live and learn.

We were driving home from Creation Fest in Cornwall. It was such a good week and I’ll be posting about it soon!

Thanks for reading and maybe let me know if you have any amazing ideas for keeping little ones entertained in the car!


 Tactical Tuesday at Joanna Victoria


3 thoughts on “Surviving long car journeys with a toddler

  1. We do loads of long car journeys, just this month we have driven from Paris to the French Alps for a holiday (6 hours), and to Ile de Re (5 hours), and will be driving back to the UK very soon (6 hours). You have some great tips here. We do use the iPads, but only after they have slept – as otherwise they just don’t sleep!!!!! Kate #tacticaltuesdays


  2. Great ideas. For Labor day weekend, we are planning a road trip to Boston which is roughly 5 hours, and I got a 2.5 year old and 1 year old so I am looking for lots of tips! Will definitely try the fun pack. Already know the snacks tactic lol. Wish me luck!


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