Tips on traveling with a toddler and baby

We recently took our first overnight trip with the boys. We had zero expectations. Neither of us expected it to be a pleasant experience, but we were going to do it anyway. Or at least try it. Our backup plan was to leave at 9 pm and drive two hours home. Luckily it didn’t come to that! It was our annual boys weekend + girls. This year we added the + babies in place of the dogs. 🙂

Every year a family opens up their lake house to all of us and we invade with more food than we can eat and usually a few extra dogs who spend hours swimming in the lake. This year Leger’s opted to come in on Saturday and “see how the day was” before committing to staying over. We already knew we would take over the place with all of our stuff but we didn’t want to ruin the college-like atmosphere. We were up against a few elements: first two-and-a-half-hour car trip with the boys, first lake experience, and first overnight experience. Like I said, we didn’t expect it to be relaxing or necessarily fun. Thankfully it ended up being both!

Tip #1: Be Prepared for the Car

We planned for the worst and hoped for the best. The car was packed full of things for a 24-hour trip. The ride there was ok, but Maximus whined a lot. He basically didn’t do anything other than talk, suck his thumb, and hold his blanket. Quinten slept the whole time and I pulled him out of his seat when we stopped at the grocery store. He gets hot in his seat so I thought the movement would help him last the final 30 minutes.

The Ride for Maximus:

  • A pull-up on in case of an emergency (he asked to stop an hour in and luckily we were close to a gas station)
  • Water bottle
  • Blanket
  • A book to look at (it wasn’t used)
  • As a last resort, a movie (it wasn’t used)

The Ride for Quinten:

  • Full belly
  • Close to nap time
  • Rings with a teether to chew on
  • Other toys nearby

Tip #2: Be Prepared for the Stay

I tried to minimize the number of bags we took. I put all of my stuff in a bag with the boy’s stuff. We all had sweatshirts, socks, a pair of pants, and swimming suits. Maximus helped “pack” his bag so he had about six pairs of underwear for each day. 🙂 We were blessed with no accidents! I had packed him two outfits per day in case he had any accidents. He also packed all three of his swimming trunks. Basically, he was extra prepared. We had swim diapers for Quinten and a sleeve of regular diapers along with a container of wipes. We had sunscreen for the whole family and hats for the boys. Everyone brought their pillows and Maximus had two blankets and of course Quinten had his pack ‘n play to sleep in. At the last minute we decided to bring Quinten’s exersaucer so we could contain him. We also brought his bumbo seat, which he barely fits in, so he could eat in that.


We had to take food as well. We took baby food, baby oatmeal, bananas, and some extra breastmilk. I also had my pump and supplies. We took stuff to make S’mores and stuff for PB&J sandwiches. We also brought some food the whole group: hot dogs, brats, and eggs. We had mini bottles of water that Maximus loved drinking out of and brought a few cans of pop. I know we had beer, but I didn’t see it the whole weekend so maybe it was consumed very quickly!

For toys, I brought two new books that Maximus got for his birthday. It’s always good to bring something new that holds a lot of excitement! He looked at one of his new truck books all weekend! I also brought along two favorites – Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Cat in the Hat. I took his two John Deere tractors, a small semi truck, and a new roller that he got for his birthday. We brought along some crayons and a coloring book, his new tee-ball set, and a horse shoe game that he got for his birthday. When he wasn’t playing with toys, he was talking to people or sitting on the dock pretending to see snakes.

Tip #3: Act Cool

When in doubt, act cool. If parents are easy-going then the babies will usually be easy-going. We knew there was no chance in Maximus taking a nap, we were ok with that. We had to be. We tried to always be one step ahead of him to ensure that everything was ok. Only one time did he throw a fit because Bryan was making him take a potty break. Luckily no one else was around to hear him crying or see him trying to kick Bryan. Or, maybe the only reason he threw a fit was because no one was around to see him. We made sure he didn’t get hungry and we let him stay up later than normal. Once we noticed that he was starting to get too tired, we slowly took him away from the situation. Baby steps. Quinten went to sleep first. Once we knew he was asleep, we started the routine with Maximus. First, I had him sit on my lap while I read him a book with all his new friends hanging around. After he calmed down enough to sit still and relax, then Bryan took him into the bedroom where Quinten was already asleep. Bryan told him a story about a boy named Arthur who spent the day at the lake. By the time the story was done, Maximus was ready for bed. No tears and no stalling.

We used the same approach when we went for the boys’ first boat ride. Maximus got really nervous as soon as he got into the boat. I pulled him onto my lap and hugged him close while telling him it was fine. We drove a short distance and put down the anchor. He whined a little and told me he wanted out. I always talked to him in a calm voice and I was always holding him and stroking his hair. Eventually he was comfortable being on the boat and much later we even got him to go into the water with Bryan!



We aren’t ready to go on any long trips with those two boys, but I’m glad we took the leap and tried a weekend stay. The annual boys weekend means a lot to Bryan and I and we were excited to introduce our boys to our friends. And of course it makes us proud when we get compliments about how well our boys were. 🙂 Traveling with a toddler and baby CAN be fun and enjoyable! But, you’ve got to plan ahead and pack A LOT of stuff to achieve that!

4 thoughts on “Tips on traveling with a toddler and baby

  1. great list. love the “act cool” for sure a great tip. kids so respond to how mom and dad are, this is so true!

    1. Thanks, Andrea! Act cool is our parenting motto. It comes in handy so much and we’ve gotten lots of compliments on our even-tempered babies. 🙂

  2. Kyley – Your post brings back a lot of memories of car trips with our children. Our families always lived quite a distance away so we started traveling with our children when they were very young. We learned along with our children how to travel together. If you do that when they are young you will have many great family travel outings in the future.

    1. Thanks for the encouraging words! We try to do things even though we have kids. We want them to experience things and we want things to be normal for them. I hope to make a lot of memories in the car traveling and going on fun adventures!

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