Riding in Cars with Toddlers.

I recently took a road trip with my toddler. Just me and the two-year-old.

I was cocky. I was so prepared. I was writing a blog post in my head as I pulled out of the parking lot. It was all about how TOTALLY EASY traveling with toddlers could be as long as you were prepared.

Turns out all you really need is a whole bunch of extra clothes and a lot of patience.

I pulled over three times before I left Virginia. I live in Arlington, which is the very TOP of Virginia. The first two times were because she ‘dropped’ something important, like a particular Care Bear or Little Pony. The third time was because she Exorcist-style puked all over herself and I had to clean her and her car seat on the side of the road. Then, fourteen miles later (but finally in a different state), she hurled again.

And I thought I had overpacked.

I stopped at the first place I could find. We changed her clothes and washed up in the Waffle House bathroom. I doubt Babystar was the first person to clean puke in that Waffle House bathroom and I doubt she will be the last. She is likely the cutest.

We walked around outside for some fresh air before we went inside and found a booth. ($10 for both of us, with tip.) My toddler ordered a piece of toast. Babystar is 85 years old, y’all.

When we finally got back in the car, she fell asleep almost immediately. We had been gone over two hours and we were about thirty-five miles from home.

So. Extra clothes and extra time. That’s mostly all you need when traveling with toddlers. I feel like I totally should have known that.

Instead, I prepared by packing an entire backpack full of fun activities (to puke on).

I brought along our beloved Melissa and Doug Water Wow ‘Art Show’ book plus two more that I bought for the trip. ($9.98) I also brought two Melissa and Doug Color Blast books, which are the ‘magic’ marker books. They only color on the paper in the book. They totally rock, but she didn’t play with them until we got to Pennsylvania. (Then they were awesome for sharing with her cousins so yay?)

I packed a super swag backpack. Inside were a few of her favorite books, a new pack of crayons from my back-to-school haul, two blank Dr. Suess tiny notepads from the Target dollar aisle, a cool generic Magnadoodle that I found for five bucks at Target, an awesome new ‘Nature’ sticker book ($6.99), and some stuffed friends for when she dropped the ones that started the voyage in her car seat. Babystar’s car seat is directly behind my seat, so I planned to just hand her fun new toys as she got bored.

I also filled and packed all three of her water bottles. I gave her one but planned to pass her the others if she emptied or dropped it.

I did not plan on the puke.

No one ever plans on the puke.

All of my preparation was totally useful for the forty-eight minutes of the trip that she was awake and feeling happy and well.

These minutes were not consecutive.

But. We made it. On the way home, I took her to a playground after our hotel breakfast (free!). We visited a train museum (free!). We waited until midday to get on the road, and it kind of worked.

She didn’t get sick right away. She played in the car seat with her bears and books and toys for a couple of hours. My magic backpack was a total hit! She then slept for a long time. And then she got sick when she woke up. We cleaned her up and spent ninety minutes at a Chick-fil-A ($10.55) that was about forty-five minutes from home. I wasn’t that mad. Babystar was a trooper.

All she ever wanted after puking was a clean shirt.

Travel tip: Pack a super cool fun backpack if you want. But mostly, pack extra clothes. And extra time.

MAYDAY MAYDAY: Does anyone have kids that are prone to carsickness? What helps?


24 thoughts on “Riding in Cars with Toddlers.

  1. Kids are champions. If I puked right now I would immediately go to my bed for the next 7 days and complain about how terrible my life is via texts to everyone I know. Babystar- you’re a trooper. (Also I have no practical suggestions and for that I’m genuinely sorry.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Had she had car sickness before? I was prone to it and still get nauseated in the car sometimes. I like those SeaBands, but don’t know how small they fit. I have an EO pro friend who has mentioend certain ones that help her carsick prone daughter. Was she playing with things in the car when she got sick? I cannot read or do things in the car without starting to feel sick. So, my tip would be to basically pack kid’s CDs and have her stare out the window.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She gets sick a lot actually. I thought she was done but apparently going from bed to milk to car is the worst for her. I’m resigned to late departures and stopping a lot but I’m open to anything. Including essential oils. 😊


      1. Heads up, early motion sickness is a precursor to migraines 😦 since my migraines have been helped so much by diet changes and CBD oil, those are two things to try. I don’t have a lot of EO knowledge and I can’t find a blog post on it by my online friend. I really thought she had one on it. Frankincense stuck in my mind as one she mentioned because it is one of my favorites.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh man, that is a rough trip. I am so, so sorry. I haven’t cleaned up puke from a car seat yet, and we have driven many times over the last 4 years from NJ to VA, plus over to my in-laws’ house 1.25h away dozens of times. I think some kids are just prone to being carsick. Personally, I can’t read or look down when I ride; I need to be looking out at scenery.

    You probably don’t want to hear this, but what about turning her carseat forward so she can look out the windows and especially out the front windshield? That might help keep her sight and stomach settled. Since she’s over 2yo, she’s legally able to, right? That’s the rule in NJ, at least.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I battled as a kid and I still do now. There’s no puking but severe nausea followed by a headache. Closing my eyes is the only thing that helps.

    I would say leave out anything that requires her to focus her eyes on. A toy to play with is less strain than a book to write in type of thing.
    Also leaving the car window open for a breeze as opposed to using the aircon also helps a lot.

    Goodluck! I hope she grows out of it for her sake

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Poor you and Babystar! Is your car new by chance? Because I found out that when the kids ride in an older car, they rarely puke. But when they’re in a newer car, they pull that Exorcist shit nonstop. BG completely ruined my new car smell.

    I’m glad the trip back was slightly less eventful then the trip up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We DID take the husbands new VW instead of my very old minivan! Don’t tell the toddler, but if puke is the trade off for that smooth handling on mountain roads, I’ll take it! I saved us from two near misses on the turnpike! (And she’s puked in the minivan too. So that’s probably not it. But thanks!)

      My mom is following this closely lol. She says that she got carsick and I got carsick so maybe it’s preordained. 😶

      Liked by 1 person

  6. We experienced that with our first as well, but didn’t realize it was actual motion sickness until after the third or fourth time. Then we gave her some dramamine when we went for rides and it totally helped. I did not know that it was a precursor to migraines but she gets those also now as an adult (although no more motion sickness and she can totally ride any kind of roller coaster). I had migraines so just thought hers were hereditary from that. The things you learn reading blog posts and comments!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m not sure if this helps but listening to music, particularly with headphones, can help adults – an inner ear thing I suppose. We recently took our toddler on a long trip with kid safe headphones and his tablet and it made a world of difference.


      1. Sounds like my friend’s little one. Not keen but insists that she has “Let it Go” from Frozen played whenever she is eating. I hope you find a remedy soon. It’s not nice for the one who is car sick and definitely not nice for parent either.


  8. hahaha the same happened to my husband at the departure lounge at an airport. it was hilarious (for me). He had to run around like a wet hen trying to find somewhere to buy a whole new outfit! tres hilaire.


  9. You are so lucky your child enjoys being in the car. My toddler screams after about 20 minutes. A four hour drive turned into 8 with all the stops we had to make.


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