How to Survive A Cross Country PCS with a Baby/Toddler


As Military families, we are no stranger to moving and doing it often. We all know that PCSing is hard but with a baby or toddler, it can feel a lot like running in a marathon that you never prepared for. We’ve done it almost TWICE now, 20 hours, once with a baby and now with a toddler and neither of the two are better. While I can’t promise that I have all the answers, I come bearing the gift of tips and tricks to survive a cross country pcs with a baby or toddler. Keep reading for a chance at keeping your sanity and may the PCS odds ever be in your favor.

This post is sponsored by Britax USA. However, all opinions are my own. For more information regarding our policies, click HERE!

how to survive a cross country pcs with babies and toddlers 

Buckle up, you’re in for a ride. Whether your move is 4 hours down the road or a cross country PCS with a 20+ hour stretch, I guarantee it’s no small feat with tiny people in the backseat. As your fairy PCS mother, I am giving up ALL my secrets to not pulling your hair out. Let’s get started…

Cross Country PCS Hack: Consider the Comfort and Safety of your Little People

Britax marathon click tight convertible car seat with toddler

I’ll admit, when my son was first born. I made a HORRIFIC decision on a travel system. For the convenience of having a car seat and stroller click in set, I sacrificed comfort and that was not a good decision. Trust me, I’ve paid for it on multiple road trips. This time, we knew a change had to come and fell in love with the Britax Marathon Click Tight. This thing is my new Holy Grail!

The Marathon ClickTight Convertible has made a world of difference in our family outings. My son actually asks to go get in his car seat now which is glory to my ears because he absolutely hated his last one.

What makes the Marathon ClickTight Convertible So Special?


Really quickly, I want to tell you what’s so special about this car seat. The Marathon ClickTight has SafeCell impact protection which basically means a super plush safety mechanism that absorbs deep energy and keeps your little ones safe in a collision. Not only was I thinking about his comfort during the trip, but I wanted to ensure that he stayed safe during the entire trip and beyond. You never know what you’ll encounter out on the road and it’s truly better to be safe than sorry.

Other features that I love are the Click Tight installation system, which makes it super easy to install in your vehicle without worrying if your seat is installed properly. I also love the multiple reclining positions. We truly believe in extended rear facing so it’s comforting to know that he can rear face longer and remain comfortable for the long car ride.

little boy in Britax marathon click tight car seat

I say all this to say that your car seat choice can make a HUGE difference in how successful you are on your PCS road trip journey. If you’re on the market for a new car seat to help you survive, click HERE for more info and be sure to watch my video.


Cross Country PCS Hack: Plan your Stops Ahead of Time

With little ones, you never know when you’ll have to pull over and take all kinds of breaks. There are bathroom breaks, snack breaks, stretch breaks and sanity breaks (I feel for you mama). However, it is good practice to have a general idea of where you’d like to stop and how often you plan to do so. One of my very best road trip travel hacks is to stop at a hotel for breaks as a cleaner alternative to rest stops and gas stations. You’ll likely need to stop for gas and that’s okay but it’s much easier on your mind and sanity to wrangle kids at a hotel.

Hotels have a lot going for them. The hotel bathrooms get clean much more often than other places, there are tons of quiet nooks and spaces to sit around and do a phone charge. I even pump at hotels and purchase snacks from the lobby. Overall, the peace of mind that comes with stopping at a hotel is priceless so consider it and thank me later.



Cross County PCS Hack: Get Your Snack On

 lance snacks variety box with sandwich and carrots

What is a road trip without snacks? A disaster! I am sure we can all agree that snacks are an instrumental part of every road trip BUT they quickly add up. Purchasing snacks from convenience stores means purchasing individually wrapped snacks that end up costing more than they would in bulk. Consider packing up a cooler of snacks and drinks for the little snacky monsters and leave the money for the big meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Some of my favorite road trip snacks are: value bag chips, trail mix, grapes, oranges, apple slices, dry sandwiches with condiment packets and granola bars. Pinterest has some pretty awesome ideas of how you can prepare road trip snacks so I would totally recommend taking a peak for some inspiration.


Cross Country PCS Hack: Bring A Variety of Entertainment


busy bin for kids in the back seat cross country pcs with kids 

I haven’t quite figured out if a bored only child is worse or multiple bored children who pick at each other (leave a comment below and let me know). What I do know is that entertainment can single handedly make or break a trip. I’d like to live in a perfect world where my son sleeps like a baby for the majority of the trip but I wasn’t blessed with that kind of fate. I have one who wants to be involved every moment. That’s why keeping him busy is SUPER important and I’ve developed a couple of hacks.

Keep the movies coming!

Our single greatest investment was an iPad for our 2- year- old. If you’re anti tech for kids then this is NOT the post for you. I am all for educational shows and games that keep him engaged… in moderation. We try to make sure that he has plenty of movies to watch on our trip. We’ve also purchased an IPad seat strap to mount it to our seat since we’re rear facing. This helps when he’s tired of holding it for the duration of a movie.

Mom Hack: Did you know that Netflix allows you to download movies to watch without Wi-Fi. Take advantage of this option and save all your kids favorites.

Bring a Busy Bin!

Kids get bored so easily and the best way to keep them entertained is a busy bin. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just purchase a shower caddy and load it up with cheap items from Dollar Tree or Target Dollar Spot. Ours has coloring books, crayons, his favorite toys and whatever else we can find. The Caddy is to make it portable and easily organized.

I hope you enjoyed reading our Tips for surviving a cross country pcs road trip with a baby or toddler. Remember, you’ve got this mama and before you know it, your trip will be over and you’ll begin settling in at your new duty station. To read more PCS related articles, click HERE!





About Sierra Redmond

I am Sierra Redmond; a mom, military spouse and travel industry expert on a mission to inspire families to travel near and far. On the blog, you’ll find travel and food guides, tips for traveling with kids, Military, all things Disney and our chronicles as new Las Vegas locals.

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