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Is 5 hour car drive too long for a toddler?

99 replies

hm167 · 10/10/2021 23:16

i was planning a little holiday to Cornwall. I have a two year old, would a five hour car ride from london to cornwall be too much for her? Has anyone ever done a car journey this long with a toddler? what was your experience?

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NavigatingAdolescence · 10/10/2021 23:19

Have driven all over the U.K., US and Europe with DD since she was 6 weeks old. She thinks nothing of a 9-12 hour road trip.

My friend’s child hasn’t really been anywhere and struggles with anything more than an hour.

So it’s going to depend on a lot of things.

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AnnaSW1 · 10/10/2021 23:23

We've done it lots of times but we have Lots of stops so it takes way way longer.

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Runningupthecurtains · 10/10/2021 23:24

When mine was a toddler to do the sic hour drive to mum's I would set off early evening, drive for a couple of hours stop for food and change him into PJs after dinner then carry on with the rest of the journey and he would (hopefully) sleep for a good chunk of the drive.

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Runningupthecurtains · 10/10/2021 23:24

*six hour not sic

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minipie · 10/10/2021 23:26

Ours were bloody awful on long car journeys up until they were old enough for audio books (maybe age 4).

Totally depends on the child though as pp say.

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SummerInSun · 10/10/2021 23:30

Take the full day with stops at things they will enjoy, and time the longer stretches for when you know - hope! - they will nap. I usually look for National Trust properties along the route where there were gardens/parkland where my children can run around.

Also have a stack of music that they like to play in the car. 17 verses of Wheels on the Bus is annoying, but not as annoying as a screaming child.

And if you want a real insurance policy, you can buy iPad/tablet holders that go onto the back of your seat so your toddler can watch cartoons the whole way. That's a dangerous precedent, though, as your child will start to demand cartoons every time he/she is in the car.

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Thelovelyflower · 10/10/2021 23:31

I took mine on much longer journeys at that age. I think the challenge is working out what is going to make the journey bearable for everyone. Do you need to break it into shorter chunks? Do you have a toddler who will be happy playing on a phone? Or watching something? Or eating snacks? Or doing crafts? Or colouring? Or playing with small toys? Or listening to songs? Or audio books? Do they get travel sick? Can you time your journey around naps? Also, bear in mind that things don't always go according to plan (that journey back from Cornwall took us nearly double the expected time in the summer - urgh!) From my point of view, sometimes a journey that is not all that much fun can still be worth it - it's only a few hours in the car and the potential for a week or more fun at the beach and elsewhere!

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supaloops · 10/10/2021 23:31

My now 4.5 year old and 2.5 year old have travelled to Cornwall numerous times. Normally takes 4.5 to 5 hours. Last time took us 8hrs to get home. They were fine. Played eye spy, listened to music, looked out for animals, vehicles etc. Stopped a couple of times for a toilet break and lunch. No tears at all.

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Skysblue · 10/10/2021 23:43

Depends on the child but I think it’s mean, at that age their bodies need so much movemenr, strapping them in for hours is curel no matter how many ipads you hypnotise them with. Maybe have an overnight so it’s two days of travelling instead of one.

But personally my desire for my toddler to be happy and have a nice holiday would come before a wish to go to Cornwall. Plenty of other beaches much nearer, wherever you are based.

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SMBH · 10/10/2021 23:47

I do it with my 3yo and 1yo every few weeks, leave at bedtime and arrive middle of the night and transfer to bed. I personally avoid travelling that far during the day at this age - mine can manage about 1.5hrs over naptime.

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Xmasbaby11 · 10/10/2021 23:52

Mine were both travelling at this age. I'd stop twice for a run around. And have lots of back up entertainment in case of a longer journey than expected.

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Xmasbaby11 · 10/10/2021 23:53

I mean they were both fine travelling. It's harder now they are 7 and 9, more aware of time and get bored unless they are allowed screens!

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NeverDropYourMoonCup · 11/10/2021 00:35

Leave very early and they tend to go back to sleep, especially if you leave them in pyjamas and with a favourite blanket, hat and toy.

Then have a break for breakfast and a play in Devon before doing the last stretch.

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MyDcAreMarvel · 11/10/2021 00:42

Having taken 16 hours drives for vacations to Florida I find these threads bizarre. No five hours is not too far for a toddler.

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simitra · 11/10/2021 01:23

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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TheLastLonelyBakedBeanInTheTin · 11/10/2021 01:44

Yes it's fine, but make regular stops. Even if you aren't hungry, nobody needs the loo etc. Stop to let your toddler have a run around some where or do something interesting. Is there any way you could go a more coastal route? Or via somewhere interesting to stop?

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Milkbottlelegs · 11/10/2021 02:02

I’ve done a fair few long drives with the kids. As long as they’re not car sick it’s fine. I personally would definitely plan on doing it on the one day, don’t drag it out any more than you need to. A toddler will not suffer long term damage from one (or even two) long days in the car.

The worst part for me is that they tend to sleep most of it which can really disrupt bedtime.

As for the poster that said it’s cruel, lots of us have to travel that far to visit family. Would it be preferable to have no relationship with grandparents?

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Dellit · 11/10/2021 02:14

Travelling during the day, mine needed a proper runaround every hour and a half at least, or they were just full of physical energy with no way of using it so it would come out in other emotion-based ways that were no fun for anyone. If you can find some good playgrounds to stop at, pack plenty of car snacks, have new or favourite music, toys or audio books, and be prepared to sing/talk/generally distract them from the boredom as much as possible, you should be ok.

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Chunkymenrock · 11/10/2021 02:35

I think it's awful to be strapped down for hours as a toddler. Agree with pp who wouldn't go that far. There's all the time in the world for Cornwall when they're older.

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MooseBeTimeForSummer · 11/10/2021 02:40

Our nearest city is a 5 hour drive, with nothing in between except forest and the occasional gas station. It’s a necessity.
Our answer was to set off early in the morning, so they slept for a couple of hours.
Some journeys aground here are easily 12-16 hours. If we wanted to go to the east coast (and many do) it’s four days of driving.

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worriedatthemoment · 11/10/2021 03:20

@Chunkymenrock it can be done though if you travel during nap time maybe stop halfway at a park or farm etc and break up the journey
People regularly go abroad and sit on planes for hrs at least a car you can stop and get out

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Cakequeen1988 · 11/10/2021 03:36

Lots of people do much longer journeys than that. Personally I think restricting your life like that will lead to you never doing anything. A child that never spends long in the car will never tolerate long in the car.

My family are spread round the UK, we just drive and the kids are used to that.

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itsgettingwierd · 11/10/2021 03:59

They should be fine but the issues will come from boredom.

So they still nap?

If so I'd plan to head off, stop before nap time and have a snack and a run around.

Drive again through nap time and probably have another stop when they wake for snack/drink/runaround.

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NavigatingAdolescence · 11/10/2021 07:12

@Chunkymenrock

I think it's awful to be strapped down for hours as a toddler. Agree with pp who wouldn't go that far. There's all the time in the world for Cornwall when they're older.

Would have been more awful for mine never to see her extended family…….
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LakeShoreD · 11/10/2021 07:15

We did a 15 hour drive a toddler once when we lived in the US and our flights got cancelled. It was absolutely fine! She’s never been a problem on long haul flights either.

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