Solo Road Tripping with a Toddler In 7 Easy Steps

I recently hit the road to drive from San Diego to Southern Arizona to visit my family. Paul had to work so I decided to go solo. I haven’t driven this far alone in a very long time, 10 years maybe. This time I had a toddler in tow. So I had to find some way to make the 6 hour drive bearable for the two of us.

(not the view from our drive)
  1. Pandora- I am a huge fan of the kids songs stations like Raffi and Disney. Pandora has plenty of kids stations. But there are about two separate stretches, about an hour each, that I don’t have cell service, that means no Pandora. Evey also really enjoyed the music when I was singing along, so we listened to a lot of disney, because I know the words to those.
  2. Books- Especially books that have never been seen before. Target has a great selection of books for a dollar usually. I was very lucky that we got a package from my Mother In Law the day before we left and it had some books in it. The new books kept her attention much longer than the books that I had in the car already.
  3. Snacks- I tried to keep it healthy this trip. I sliced up a bunch of strawberries and raspberries, I packed fresh mandarine oranges and bananas. I also had several flavors of granola bars and pouches of applesauce. But the only thing she wanted was the peanut butter crackers, which I ran out of pretty quick. I also had some lunchables and Red Bull, but they were for me.
  4. Nap Time- Driving in the middle of the day works for us because when she naps it’s around noon, and she naps best in the car. So As soon as she started getting cranky, I turned on my radio (podcasts) and handed her a book. She fussed a little, for about 20 minutes, but she soon fell asleep. Unfortunately she only slept for about an hour.
  5. Plan stops- I get really nervous traveling alone, and on the way out I only stopped for gas. I didn’t use the restroom. When I arrived I had to pee so bad my head hurt. On the way home I wished I had planned gas stops better. I didn’t stop in the usual town and moved on to the last town before a hundred of nothingness, This town I could not find a gas station that allowed credit cards at the pump. I still don’t understand the logic, but whatever. Dragging a todder into the store to pay for gas was a huge pain in the ass, but now I know to gas before I get to that town.
  6. Baby Backpack- Tula, Ergo, Kinderpack, Any of these can make a bathroom trip easier. Wearing E would allow me to quickly go into the bathroom, do my business and get out, without her running around and touching things, or getting into nasty bathroom cooties.
  7. iPad- I tried to not go digital, but there comes a point when you can only pay attention to a needy toddler so much, and you need to focus on the drive. The iPad can be a lifesaver. I keep mine loaded with Wonder Pets and Dora, and some apps that don’t require internet access because my iPad is the Wi-Fi only version.
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Dina Farmer
7 years ago

Oh my gosh that drive you are talking about. I did…..all the time at least every holiday for 6 years! We were stationed in southern Arizona. Go Wildcats! And the in laws live in San Diego, so driving that was always and adventure. The only problem with THAT particular drive was the rest stops. I think due to funding in Arizona a lot of rest areas have been closed, so we had to plan on where to stop for bathroom breaks and where we could let the little guy run around. You are brave! I have driven across the U.S.… Read more »

Dina Farmer
7 years ago
Reply to  AlanaMarie

Yeah that is not the best place to be stranded.