Tips for Surviving a Long Car Trip with a Preschooler

Picture of backseat ready for traveling


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Have you ever had to get ready for a long car trip and dreaded it before it even started?

Does the idea of riding in a car with young kids stress you out?

This is me 100%.  We travel twice a year to visit family 12 HOURS AWAY.  That’s right.  I said 12 hours.  We live in Alabama and visit all of my family in Iowa twice a year.  We also prefer to drive over flying due to the overall outrageous cost of flying with 4 people.  Every summer I get the privilege of making that drive solo.  I take my daughters up for 2 weeks every summer and I dread that drive. Every. Single. Time.  Getting to our destination is amazing.  It’s the process of getting there that I dread. 

I wanted to share with you a few tips and tricks that help us survive that long car trip.  Especially since we currently have a preschooler and a tween.  It can be a little daunting. 

  • Comfy clothes – Comfy clothes are a must for those long car trips. Our preschooler has to be strapped into a car seat for 12 hours so I always make sure she is wearing clothing that is loose and flowy, has no buckles and no restricting sleeves or waistbands. 

Snacks for long car ride

  • Snacks and Drinks – Easy to open snacks are a must. Preferably non-messy as well.  Those preschoolers can sure make a mess.  I also make sure to pack wipes for easy cleanup.  We typically pack snacks such as pretzels, goldfish, fruit snacks, trail mix, granola bars and cheez-its.  Drinks are stored in a cooler that can be reached when we make pit stops.  The kids usually drink water and keep a Thermos Funtainer that I purchased from Amazon within reach that keeps the water cold. We love these Funtainers!  You can p

  • Digital Entertainment – This is a lifesaver! A preschooler strapped into a car seat for 12 hours can be a nightmare.  We usually pick out 5 movies from home to bring with us.  I found an inexpensive UEME portable DVD player from Amazon that straps right onto the back of the headrest and can easily be moved for if/when the tween wants to watch a movie. 

  • Basket of Toys – I usually go through and pack an assortment of toys to entertain the preschooler such as: Barbies, books, Paw Patrol figures, coloring book and colored pencils, and a toy phone. The tween usually brings a bag with her tablet, drawing stuff and a book.  It’s important to bring an assortment as they can have a short attention span and lose interest quickly in a toy.  My preschooler loves the Melissa and Doug Water Wow! books.  They are a blast and can be played with over and over.  

  • Blankets/Stuffed Animals – We always bring personal blankets and stuffed animals. Sometimes they can get cold in the car and it’s always nice for the kids to be able to cover up with a blanket and get comfy (as comfy as you can get stuck in a car! Haha!).

  • Bag with Extras (Just in Case) – This is a must with a preschooler. We have experienced motion sickness in the car previously and let me tell you, it was not fun.  We now make sure to always have extra clothes in the car as well as wipes and plastic bags. 

I hope that these tips help you look forward to your next family car trip.  If you have any tips to share, please let me know in the comments section.  I would love to hear from you!

4 thoughts on “Tips for Surviving a Long Car Trip with a Preschooler

  1. Great post. I love these ideas. My daughter did great on road trips last year, but as she’s getting older, she gets harder to entertain. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hey Candice thank you so much for this great informative tricks. I really love this idea for a long trip in a car. Last year we did a long journey but can’t cover every single detail. This post give me some more idea to start this year with full of preparation.

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