How to Travel Alone with a Toddler: Road Trip Edition [My Top 6 Tips]


I’ve taken many short road trips with A, but when I set off for New Jersey from our home state here in Virginia, a few of my friends and family members thought I was crazy.  She was 14 months old at the time and I was making a six+ hour road trip totally alone with her. I would be lying to say I wasn’t a little nervous, but not nervous enough to not make the trip. I was going to visit some family and I really needed some time outside the walls of my home. Far outside my home haha (Stay-at-home mama life can drive you to wits end sometimes) I also get the travel itch every 6ish months so I had to go SOMEWHERE! And plus, I was going to have the opportunity to visit family, I rarely see.

Okay so back to my tips. I’ve compiled a list of things that were oh so helpful when it came to successfully making the trip, safe and sound, with both of us still sane. 😉


Safety first

[The fact of the matter is, I am a young woman who doesn’t know much about cars traveling alone with my small child. I can’t just ignore all those facts. I have the super{wo}man complex sometimes, but I also wasn’t to be an idiot:]

Travel during daylight hours.

Make sure your vehicle is in pristine condition: it has been running well, oil has been checked, tires are full, etc.

Leave your home town with a full tank of gas.



Consider nap time

If time frame/daylight hours allow, leave around nap time. This allows you a 30 minute – 2 hour window of time that you can solely focus on driving and really get some head way.


Plan long stops

[When I travel without my kiddo I make little to no stops, but that just doesn’t typically work with little ones. They get antsy.]

Take a break and have a picnic.

Walk around a shopping center while stopping for gas/food.

Stop at a playground/park and play for 15-20 minutes.



Break up the trip, if you’re able

For our road trip, we took a ferry. We didn’t need to. We don’t normally. But for it just being the two of us, it really broke up the trip (and also kept us on schedule)

If it’s a long one, stay with a friend/family member or at a hotel.


Pack light, but smart

Bring a cooler with snacks and drinks.

Make sure snacks/drinks are kid friendly or easy for Mom/Dad to open when driving (i.e. zipped bags, plastic containers)

Bring toys and games that they’re not already bored of. (Buy some new from a discount store, if you’re able)

Bring toys that don’t have pieces that will get lost (i.e. to avoid meltdowns)

Put ALL items within your reach; remember, safety first!

Bring playlists, CDs, whatever, that you don’t mind and they may have fun listening to


Have patience

If you’re aggravated, worried and/or tense, the trip will be a disaster. Be prepared for some meltdowns. Stay focused on the road. They will be fine until you’re able to safely stop. When they are losing it, don’t you lose it too. Kids need a calm for their chaos. Don’t just add to the chaos. YOU GOT THIS!



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