Before we set off on a cross-country road trip with our toddler, many of our friends told us we were crazy: we’d need to take too many stops, there’d be too much screaming, and all the change would lead to terrible sleep for all of us. But in reality, in taking a month driving from San Francisco to Boston, we had a great time, and learned a ton along the way.
Every kid is different, of course, but here are a few of our favorite hacks:
Books, lots of books
Whoever wasn’t driving was on “librarian duty,” regularly swapping in new books for our son to page through. And when that failed, reading aloud, even from the front seat, worked great. I think we’ve all memorized Llama Llama Red Pajama at this point!
Test the best drive times
We started the trip planning to do much of our driving at night, after bedtime. But with these long summer days, our son really struggled to fall asleep in a lit car. So we adjusted: we learned that he could handle about an hour of driving while awake, and his 3-hour nap was our time to make bigger progress. Each leg, we planned around that type of schedule.
The most effective pit stops were those were our little guy could stretch his legs. We used All Trails to find hikes and Roadtripper for attractions. For many of the hikes, we mostly had our son in the carrier, but we ensured there was at least 30 min for free roaming and playing too.
Offer engaging snacks
We experimented with snacks that our son wouldn’t just shovel into his mouth, but could instead play with and explore while he ate. Our favorite: roast corn. Especially when he was teething, having something to chew on and play with went a long way.
And of course, we needed to ensure he had comfy clothes that could withstand spills, messes, and sweat. First Peak clothes are built for adventures: they’re quick drying, odor-resistant, and super soft.