Tips for Traveling with Toddlers

Not like I’m an expert or anything after our ONE road trip with a toddler, but for what it’s worth, here is what worked for us..

So the ride up wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be, 5 hours or so plus stops, the one drawback was that Jasper only napped for a total of 45 minutes.  I sat in the back on entertainment duty while Jeff drove.  Jasper only had one major freak out when he woke up from his nap which is par for the course for him, he’s usually super cranky when he wakes up.

His decent mood in the car can be wholly attributed to three things: an almost constant stream of snacks; the Fisher-Price Doodle Pro Travel Green and the “Caspar Babypants” cd I picked up at the Library.

The magnadoodle (doodlepro) thingy was something I picked up on the suggestion of my friend Kristy. I must admit I was skeptical – drawing doesn’t normally  keep Jasper’s attention very long.  But the “magic” inherent in drawing and then using the lever to make that drawing disappear is a whole other story.   Jasper drew on it occasionally, but mostly he  wanted me to draw a bear in a house and then erase it over and over and over again. I got really good at drawing bears!

The Caspar Babypants CD was something Jacqueline recommended in my post asking for toddler music suggestions. I hadn’t heard of him and didn’t plan on necessarily picking it up but I saw it in the library’s new baby music acquisitions and vaguely remembered that someone had recommended it so I added it to my other cds and dvds and listened to it on the way home from the library. I KNEW we had a winner the second I heard “Baby Baby Bear.”  Not only does Jasper love it because it says two of his favorite words together (baby and bear) but it is quite possibly the most infectious tune ever written.

Don’t believe me? You can preview it on itunes or watch this youtube video (the video isn’t so interesting but at least you can hear the whole song):

Another incredibly infectious tune that he also has a youtube video for is “Island hop” which is like Elvis meets the Beach Boys meets kid’s music:

I won’t torture you with anymore Caspar Babypants lest you, like me, fall victim to the CONSTANT rotation of CB songs running through your brain.. seriously, they have taken up residence in my head and show no signs of leaving anytime soon.

So that’s what DID work, what surprisingly DID NOT work was the whole portable DVD player plan.

We bought the Sylvania SDVD7014-MPINK Portable 7-Inch Widescreen DVD Player, though unfortunately we paid more for it from Sears because we didn’t have time to get it shipped.   I got a few DVDs from the library.. Winnie the Pooh, Brother Bear, a Sesame Sing -a -long and Thomas the Train.

Jeff immediately informs me that Jasper doesn’t like Thomas. Ok, so I popped in Brother Bear (hey, it’s got BEARS) and immediately was met with “No, No, No” from Jasper. Sigh.

So I move onto the Sesame Street DVD.. as soon as Elmo comes on Jasper gets excited and starts changing “Elmo, Elmo, Elmo” over and over. Annoying but whatever. But then, as soon as Elmo leaves the screen and another character comes on Jasper starts in again with the “No, No, No” because he wants Elmo Back.

So we move on to Whinnie the Pooh.  Jasper has no interest in any of it except for ONE scene where Tiger takes a bath. Jasper likes baths, so he demands to see this one twenty second clip over and over and over.. I show him how to press the back button so he can at least satisfy his obsession without my help, but still this is soooo not how I thought the whole DVD thing would go!

Basically, my kid is too much of a pain in the ass to even watch a DVD quietly.  I don’t know why I’m surprised.. I guess I thought because he hardly is ever allowed to watch tv he would be completely fascinated and dumbstruck. No such luck.

Honestly, he was more annoying when watching the DVDs than he was when just whining restlessly out of boredom.

So that’s the scoop, all in all, it wasn’t nearly as unbearable as I thought it would be. Thanks to all of you for your suggestions and support!

Pin It

Wall Display Templates for Photographers

You might also like

Florida and Disney Bound! Almost since Jasper was born we've wanted to take a family trip to Florida. Jeff's dad lives there...
Mommy SOS: Toddlers and Christmas Trees Ever since reading Jill's hilarious post about her Christmas tree + toddler experiences, I've been...
Ask The Expert : Picky Eaters – Perfectly Normal or Pathological? I am so thrilled to have Dr. Cuneo for my first "Ask the Expert" post writing about a subject near and...
Have you seen my motivation? So I'm in my second trimester, you know, the one where you are supposed to get this sudden burst of energy...
Ava says:

Wow! The magnadoodle is brilliant! G looooves to draw, and now you’ve got me on a hunt for one of these for our trip home. Maybe it will make the flights back more surviveable.

I ditto the Elmo-only DVDs, but if Jasper wasn’t a fan…
Also Curious George. Shane dowoaded a bunch off a TiVO and that seemed to help, although our bedtime routine is Shane reading Curious George books instead. I seem to remember you mentioning Jasper liking George before, which is why I mentioned it.

Oh and I’ll recomment my masking tape idea for a quick childproof solution here too. Works for young toddlers in a bind :)

Doris says:

Hi Ariana,
Love the blog and had a huge LOL when you wrote ‘my kid is too much a pain..” so I knew I had to finally comment as I have one of those kids as well.
He’s my third and I adore him BUT oh my goodness so much work. If he was my first I would have never had another kid because I would have thought it was something I did wrong. Ben is a reflux baby as well.

Good for you for going..we flew 7 hours to Hawaii in January with the 4 year old, 3 year old and 11 month old. It was so fun and totally worth it (see time does erase the horrors! :) )

Yvonne says:

My kids love the old “Muppet Show” and “Sesame Street ” CD’s. And I have a million books in the back seat — the kids look at them no matter if I drive to the store or for a long road trip. We do a LOT of singing.

nanette says:

I can’t click “play” on those videos ‘cuz the stills scare me a little bit. ;) Also afraid of getting more kids’ songs stuck in my head.

My tot’s Magna Doodle has been a lifesaver in the car and restaurants. Also, if supervised, she has a blast with teeny tiny stickers. I put them on her hand, and she’s mesmerized. I have to be careful, though, ‘cuz she tried to eat one the other night. Oops. Still worth the hassle, though.

Jacqueline says:

I’m so glad Caspar Babypants was a success!! We’ve got a trip coming up: 8 hours, with a one year old… We need all the help we can get! Thanks for the suggestions :)

Victoria says:

Thanks for the tips! I definitely need to pick up a magnadoodle for the road and maybe for restaurants?

ariana says:

Susan, 16 hours – you are so brave!!! You will no doubt be an expert after the summer is over so you’ll have to let me know your best tricks..

I don’t think parents who let their kids watch TV are horrible at all! It’s just that at Waldorf school you have to take a pledge that your kids won’t watch because it’s really hard if some kids are and others aren’t.. the ones that do come in and talk all about the characters to the other kids. I mean I was a waldorf kid and Jasper will be too and I still bought the DVD player for the car.. desperate times call for desperate measures. It’s rather ironic to me that he didn’t like it anyway :)

Susan says:

I love that you posted this right now! I’m going to be flying with Violet and our new baby Zooey in a couple of weeks all by myself so, needless to say, I’m desperate for ideas. We’re also driving to MN (hello 16 hour drive) and maybe Toronto this summer so, once again, a perfect time for me to read this! Lucky for us, we just got a portable dvd player specifically for the car (it hooks onto the seat in front of her) and it’s been awesome…it allowed Brent and I to actually have a complete conversation while driving which NEVER happened before…perhaps that shows us to be horrible parents who have allowed her to get very attached to Blue’s Clues and the Jungle Book…haha, I’m getting used to losing Mother of the Year over and over again. :) Thanks again Ariana!

ariana says:

Lindsay, I hadn’t heard of Recess Monkey but I just listened online and I really like the songs you recommended – thank you!!

Heather, he’s not supposed to watch any TV because he’ll be going to waldorf school, but Jeff has a hard time with that so he sometimes puts cartoons on while Japser is eating or whatever. We actually DID end up getting him an all Elmo DVD when we stopped in Mystic for a pit stop but he didn’t like that one either – go figure!

Thanks Justina, and for all of your pre-trip tips!

Stephanie, that’s totally brilliant, why didn’t I think of that? Jasper LOVES happy birthday, it’s his favorite song!

Stephanie says:

My kids love the magnadoodle! I can keep them entertained for days by drawing a birthday cake with candles on it. They sing happy birthday and then “blow out” the candles by blowing while pushing the lever down just far enough to erase the flames. Of course, I have to keep re-drawing the flames and over again, but not the cake! :)

Jus says:

Phew! Glad to read that everything went ok! :) And from your previous post, it sounded like everyone did have fun!

Heather says:

We didn’t start out w/ much tv…my basic philosophy being, why offer it if he’s not asking. We started slowly with JUST Elmo, because my son Jake doesn’t like Sesame Street when Elmo leaves the screen either. There are Elmo dvds w/ JUST Elmo on them (like Elmo and music, etc, but I’m sure you know this already).

He also likes Maisy the Mouse which are really simple, bright colors w/ the very soothing voice of the narrator. Frankly, I think a lot of dvds are just too much for really young kids. They’re too hyper and frantic. My son is (I think) about 9 mo. older than Jasper. He’s just started liking a Richard Scary Busytown dvd and the shorter Curious George segments are good (not the CG movie). So, if you ever want to try that portable dvd player again, those are my suggestions!

Lindsay says:

If you like Caspar Babypants, you might like Recess Monkey. (if you haven’t already heard of them) I really like the songs Best Friend, The Sun Will Shine For You, Firefly Lullaby, Marshmallow Farm and Hot Chocolate.