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Get my top secret helpful hint for road-tripping with a toddler.
I conducted a brief but thorough research experiment this weekend.
The topic? Worst age for children to take a road trip.
The subjects? Four-year-old female, two-year-old male, one-year-old male, and 36-year-old male.
The conclusion? The definitive WORST age for a child to be at while on a road trip is…
15 months and 16 days. (To be precise.)
Good lord was this child a nightmare. Let me back up, though, and give you some details about the “experiment.”
The road trip in question was a four-hour drive from Virginia to New Jersey, with an additional hour added on for a meal stop. The trip to New Jersey wasn’t that terrible. The crying didn’t start until the last hour.
The way home from New Jersey on Sunday was a different story. This child just did not want to be in the car, strapped into a car seat.
Look, I get it. None of us wanted that either. But I only flailed about kicking and screaming for a few minutes, unlike the baby, who kept it up for the entire drive.
I think we had one 30-minute nap where it was silent. Other than that it was wails of misery.
He cried because he didn’t have his pacifier. He cried if I handed him his pacifier back, and then he threw it at me.
He cried for snacks. He cried as he ate the snacks.
He cried for his drink and then threw the drink on the floor.
According to my husband (driving the car), he cried because he wanted me to sit in the middle row with him. So I went back there. He still cried, only this time he was close enough to start smacking me in the face and pulling my hair.
Yes…the hitting and hair-pulling…lovely little stage we have stumbled upon. He will scoot over to me and put his arms up like he wants me to pick him up, so I do. And then he smacks me in the face and laughs. It’s so much fun!
I didn’t realize he would do that in the car, too. So I went back into the front seat and he screamed some more.
Maybe it’s because I drive with the kids a lot, but I am able to tune out their crying. I could have sat reading my book the entire way home but my husband kept urging me to “DO SOMETHING! HE’S CRYING!”
I’m like, “Yeah, and?”
But there was nothing I could do. All my tricks flopped. A rest stop dinner break helped a tiny bit. He was able to get out and be free in the booth for a few minutes.
Then it was right back to sobbing in the car for the rest of the way home, while I repeated over and over in my head, “Never again. We are never doing this trip again. Not until he’s three.”
Which brings me to the point of this post…my #1 helpful hint for road-tripping with a toddler.
Are you ready? Here’s my #1 tip:
DON’T DO IT.
Just don’t go. Stay home. Road trips and toddlers just don’t mix.
Have a staycation. Or leave your toddler home with a sitter. Whatever you do, don’t bring him on a long car ride.
You’ll thank me later.