When it’s too expensive to fly, you have too much gear to carry, or flying feels unsafe, consider taking a road trip! Even with a baby and toddler in tow, there are ways to manage and make it into an adventure!
How we adjusted our time line for a road trip with a baby and how to make sitting in the car fun for a toddler! Read on for the best tips for roadtripping with two little ones. Scroll to the bottom for my best tips for a road trip with a toddler!
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We were going to the beach. It was going to cost an arm and a leg to fly there. Gas, hotels, restaurants and we would still have a huge chunk of change in our pockets. So we decided to take a risk: make the 9+ hour drive with the kiddos in the back seat.
In sum, the beach was a bust. But the road trip was not the horror story we imagined and apart from a few crying spells that were a bit tough on the soul, it was a fun, fun adventure!
Logistically, we decided to break up the drive into 2 driving segments: Houston to New Orleans, and then New Orleans to Destin. Each drive should have taken 5 hours, but with stops they took 8 hours and 7 hours, respectively.
Driving from Houston to New Orleans
We left everything packed and ready the night before. M and I each had a couple tasks to do first thing in the morning, so we got up an hour before the babies.
Baby Brother woke up and I took care of him while M loaded the car. Then Little Boy woke up, so we quickly dressed him and left.
Baby Brother had a solid nap and Little Boy was busy snacking so we got a decent drive right off the bat. We had a couple short stops and one longer one for lunch with lots of running for Little Boy. The rest of the time we entertained them with various toys from the bag I had packed in the back seat.
New Orleans with Kids
We decided to spend the day in New Orleans it was so.much.fun! So much so, that I wrote a whole post about New Orleans with a baby and toddler! If driving with kids makes you nervous and you’re not in a rush, I do recommend splitting up the drive by staying an extra night on the way.
Driving from New Orleans to Destin Florida
This part of the trip was less eventful. We left New Orleans in time for baby’s nap which afforded us a good stretch. We stopped a couple of times for feeding, lunch, running around.
Then we got a second good stretch with an afternoon nap for both kids! Winning! All in all, this stretch took us “only” 7 hours (instead of the predicted 5)!
A Week in Destin with a Baby and Toddler
Ahhh…the beach. It could be so relaxing, but this time it just wasn’t. We had a rainy, rainy week in Destin, Florida and were mostly cooped up in the rental. We stayed at this rental house in Hidden Dunes- Check latest prices here!
We had a few hours of scorching sun that Baby B did not like at all, but we made the best of it. Little N still loved every minute!
All in all, I would still recommend a beach vacation with the kids. However, I would suggest checking the weather before you go, and packing up some better indoor alternatives if you see rain in the forecast. You live, you learn!
Here’s a full guide to a Beach Vacation in Destin Florida.
Beach Gear for a Baby and Toddler
Even though most of the week was a bust, we did get good use of the beach gear we had bought ahead of time. Here are our favorites:
- Sun Hats– a must! Toddler got the blue, and baby got the khaki.
- Sunscreen– the best natural and eco friendly brand that still goes on smoothly!
- Beach umbrella
- Beach toys (couldn’t find our exact set, but this is similar)
Driving from Destin to Houston
On the way back, we decided to take a different route, through Baton Rouge. This time, we only stayed one night, and then continued onwards. I highly recommend this route, especially if you will be in Baton Rouge on a Saturday morning.
We were able to enjoy the farmer’s market, run around downtown and then hit the road back to Houston. There was little difference in the actual driving time, and we were ok getting into Houston late so it all worked out!
Tips for a Road Trip with a Baby or Toddler
- Plan on your drive taking 30% longer than the estimated driving time to account for stops.
- Try to drive long stretches while the kids nap!
- Make sure you have a full tank of gas before the anticipated nap, so that you don’t need to stop for gas, potentially waking up the baby. (Ask me how I know?)
- Prepare for stops that are longer than pre-baby days. You can’t just take a bathroom break and move on. Toddlers especially will need to stretch and run around.
- Babies should not be in their car seat for more than two hours at a time, so if they are awake, get them out to stretch as well.
- Choose stops that have a patch of grass or a safe place to play. Sometimes you will find these behind gas stations. Visitor welcome centers are a good choice!
- Bring snacks. So many snacks! More than you think…
- Download the Family Beach Vacation packing list, edit it and don’t forget your gear!