As a toddler mom with several road trips under her belt, there are a few useful tips that I've learned that I though I'd share.
The first tip is about departure time. We have found it best to choose a departure time shortly before lunch. We pack a lunch, pack up the car and head out. As soon as the toddler starts to get cranky, we whip out our packed lunch and eat. This keeps him content a while longer. After lunch is his usual nap time, so we get additional quiet travel time as the short man naps. This process gives you a good several hours of travel time without having to entertain your toddler.
When going on longer trips, we like to plan our route and note interesting locations a long the way. We plan breaks in our trip by finding places that only take 1-2 hours to check out, but are perfect for toddlers to get their wiggles out.
While driving, we make up games based on what our toddler is into at the moment. So when he was all about colors, we would point out the colors of the things we passed by. When he's into singing, we have singalongs of his favorite songs. When he's into counting, we count the cars we pass. We also have special toys reserved for when we are out of the house. This makes them more exciting to play with since we don't get to play with them all the time.
While we are not cool enough to have a built in DVD player in our car, we will load a few movies onto our iPad as a last resort.
The Multitasking Mom