The short answer: 


(At least as little as humanly possible.)

You think I’m jesting…but I’m not.

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Some babies knock out as soon as the car starts moving. Others will cry for the entire 7 hour trip. It’s really a crap shoot, isn’t it?

Let’s face it, most of us have been here:

Toddler (or baby) seems to DETEST any and all car rides…no matter how long or short…and…well meaning friends (or family) do not understand. 

Mama, I am here to tell you…YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE!

I have been there. It is torture hearing my little ones screaming at the top of their lungs. Sometimes, one or both would cry so hard, they would spit up. If it wasn’t absolutely necessary, we didn’t go. Some people were gracious and understanding. Others, not so much. 

At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself: Do we REALLY need to go? How important is it that we attend? How far is the drive? Is it worth my little getting that upset? 

If you MUST travel, go for it.

HERE ARE SOME TRICKS TO TRY (depending on age and if you haven’t already tried):

  • Singing/talking to child

Need a little inspo? Check out my 51 Songs to Sing to Your Child.


  • Play games

Some of our favorites are I Spy, What Animal Am I?, and The Five Senses.


  • Play with toys

In my humble opinion, the best car toys are: MESS FREE (or relatively mess free), quiet (again, within reason), lightweight, and engaging. Links below for some examples!


  • Watch a video

I like to use this one as the final resort. 🙂


  • Adjust temperature in vehicle


  • Pull over to a safe place and nurse/have a snack/go to the bathroom/change diaper/ stretch legs)


My favorite car items:

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  • Does the child have an annoying tag, button, bow, or item on their person that is hurting them?
  • Is the child wet, hungry, hot/cold, uncomfortable?
  • Is the car seat harness too tight?
  • Is the sun shining right in their eyes?

game changer for some kiddos is when the car seat becomes a front facing one. Maybe less car sickness? Maybe it’s more exciting to see the action in the front? Who knows. (This was not the case for us. That did not seem to make much of a difference, LOL.) But there’s hope!

If the thought of traveling seems unbearable at the moment, avoid it!

I see you and I hear you and I support you! (Those who don’t understand either haven’t experienced what you are going through or perhaps they’ve forgotten. At any rate, it’s OK to say no.) Your kiddo won’t stay this age forever. 

You do what YOU feel is right for you and your family.


Wishing you safe and peaceful travels,



How to Travel by Car with a Reluctant Toddler