How to Drive Long Distances with Preschoolers


When we first decided to travel the country in an RV, I worried about the amount of time we would need to spend in the car. Our then one-and-a-half-year-old wasn’t a huge fan of her car seat and we hadn’t done many long road trips.

The girls surprised us by being Super Travelers. For the most part, they rarely complained or cried…and any meltdowns usually occurred in the last 30-60 minutes of a trip.

Here are a few of our techniques for keeping peace on-the-road:

  1. We rarely drove more than 5 hours in any given day. Our typical length was about 3-4 hours. On our drive west, we did some longer stretches (up to 8 hours) – and that was less than ideal. I don’t recommend it.
  2. We stayed at most campgrounds between 1-2 weeks. This helped because we were able to get out, stretch, enjoy an area, and not be constantly driving.
  3. We packed snacks. I had utopian visions of packing fresh fruits and veggies in a portable plastic igloo cooler for travel days to keep our food cool and fresh for days. In reality, we traveled so often that we couldn’t be that well-prepared. We usually opted for fruit leathers (individually kept fresh in plastic packaging), beef jerky (World Kitchens is one of our favorite brands), apples and oranges, CLIF bars, and licorice.
  4. We watched movies. At first, we resisted purchasing portable DVD players. As time wore on, however, we changed our thinking. We don’t have a TV inside our RV so our girls look forward to their screen time on-the-road. The players are made with lightweight plastic components making it easy to strap them on the back of the headrests for easy visibility.
  5. We listened to Adventures in Odyssey – an excellently produced audio show for kids that I listened to throughout my childhood! Our 4-year-old would often request to “listen to the Bible.”

I am participating in a compensated program by Plastics Make it Possible® in partnership with the American Chemistry Council and Ogilvy PR.