Road Trips with a Toddler & My Favorite Toddler Apps

You know what’s not fun? Being stuck in a car with a grouchy toddler for a good 5 hours. It can easily be a recipe for disaster if you do not come prepared.  On Tuesday we headed out for a long drive to Surfside Beach. This area is beautiful but we drove through several small towns to get out to the beach which added on time to our trip.

Here is how we survived:

  • Snacks
    • No seriously, pack as many snacks as possible. Are you a parent that tries to limit snacking during the day? Well…you aren’t anymore my friend, welcome to survival mode. Here’s what we packed in his lunch box:
      • Half of an almond butter sandwich
      • Cheese Sticks
      • Yogurt in a squeeze pouch
      • Crackers
      • Water
      • Granola Bar


  • Travel during nap time
    • This one seems like a no brainer but it’s pretty serious. Obviously everyone likes to wake up and get on the road but for a toddler that is zero fun. They basically wake up from sleeping all night and have to sit stationary in the car for however many hours your trip is. The trick is to tire your child out all morning, take them to the park or the pool or anything that will make them exhausted, more so than normal. Then, around nap time, throw them in the car and it’s lights out Lucy!  Little J is not the best car napper anymore but this tactic can definitely buy us at least an hour of bliss in the car. Does your child sleep with a noise machine? Set it up next to the car seat to help your little one stay asleep for a little while longer.


  • Videos
    • I just felt very 1990’s when I wrote videos but you know what I mean. Anything electronic that can play videos/DVDs needs to come on your trip. Portable DVD player, Ipad with downloaded videos etc. We borrowed the iPADKET from a friend (several months ago might I add, dear God I’m an awful friend. I promise to return the minute we get back home) and that has been fantastic. Use the iPADKET to situate the ipad on the headrest, load up your child’s favorite video and you are good to go.  Listen, a large computer set up on the front console facing backwards works as well….survival mode remember.  Little J is Thomas and Friends obsessed…so that’s what we got to listen to during our trip. If your child can handle baby headphones, use them!


  • Stickers, Favorite Toys, Books
    • I cannot emphasize the stickers enough. Let your child put them everywhere! I’d rather spend a few minutes peeling them off my leather seats and windows if it means I got a good 30 minutes of quiet play. Same with books, Little J loves to flip through books and “read” them out loud.


  • Apps
    • Look guys, I know there are a million articles out there warning us about screen time with children but screw that. Momma and Daddy need some hush time during this ride and Apps are pretty damn magical at times. Here are my 5 favorite apps for long car rides:
      • Peekaboo Series – Peekaboo Barn, Peekaboo Halloween, Peekaboo Christmas etc
      • Furry Friend– Meet Lenard- your toddler’s new furry friend! We downloaded this originally to encourage language from Little J. Lenard repeats everything it picks up on your phone’s microphone. However, you can also tickle Lenard, feed him a sandwich and pop the bubbles he blows…which naturally is what Little J finds most appealing about this app.
      • Busy Shapes– This is a new one for us and Little J first used this (or something similar) at a play date a few weeks ago. This is a problem solving app that encourages your toddler to handle shapes through a series of puzzles. This one can get frustrating for them at times as the puzzles get more difficult, so normally I sit in the back with Little J if he is playing so we can work them out together.
      • Thomas & Friends Engine Activities– Ok…so I’m pretty sure I have been open about the Thomas and Friends obsession in our home so this one is definitely taste specific. It’s a great app though with several matching games and puzzles which are a hit with Little J.
      • Endless Alphabet – This was another one Little J tried at a play date a few weeks ago and has been a huge hit for us. Mini puzzles, animation and cute little talking letters! This one has been a win for Little J.
      • Photo Buttons – Love love love this app! My aunt recommended this one to me a few months ago. This app does require a little work from you before handing it over to your little one. You basically set up photos to identify certain things and when your little one hits the bubble your voice identifies the word to the picture. On ours we have a bubble for our dog, mom, dad, cups, cheese etc..


Did I miss something? What do you use on long car trips to entertain your toddler?



We made it to the beach!

We made it to the beach!




One response to “Road Trips with a Toddler & My Favorite Toddler Apps

  1. Glad J is loving the apps… More he might like: anything by Tiny Hands (sorting, matching, stacking- there are a bunch), Forrest Flyer, Toca Boca apps, The Monster at the End of this Book, and anything by Pepi. 🙂

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