Road tripping with kids is one of the most fun but most exhausting ways to reach a vacation destination. We have taken several long road trips with our kids over the last 6 years. Each time we have learned something new, and each time we have added a new tip to our arsenal. I am here to share those tips with you, and to tell you that road tripping with kids doesn’t have to be as bad as you think.
Updated on May 31, 2023 to give you an extra tip!
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I am a big fan of planning ahead. Every time we go on a long car trip I make many lists, and I check them twice. Planning ahead gives me a feeling of peace, especially when I know that my kids will at some point get frustrated. So before you go on your next road trip, make sure you plan ahead by doing these 5 things.
You Must Have Snacks When Road Tripping With Kids
No road trip is complete without a lot of snacks, especially when you have kids. I take snacks in the car even when we’re only going twenty minutes away, so you know I pack A LOT of snacks when taking a longer trip. I try to make sure I cover all of our favorites. We can never hit the road without some Combos Pizzeria Pretzels, a variety of cookies and salt and vinegar chips! Make sure you pack plenty of water and other drinks, too.
It also helps if you have a designated snack bag in the car. I always put it in a place where the passengers can reach it easily.
Make Sure They’re Comfy
My kids are still young enough to be in car seats, so I go out of my way to make sure they’re extra comfortable for longer trips. No kid likes to be in a car seat for very long. When we were preparing for our move to North Carolina, I invested in a few things to make the 8 hour drives back and forth a little easier.
The first thing I bought for them was a neck pillow/eye mask/ear plug set. This set has been a great addition to our road trip arsenal. The girls love putting on their masks when it’s time to fall asleep. I also suggest keeping a soft blanket in the car. Blankets like this one are soft and are the perfect size for kiddos!
Take Activities and Electronics
This is a big one, especially for younger kids. Take a few activities! I know, you’ll be taking their tablet or gaming device to keep them entertained. But what happens when it needs to be charged? That’s where the activities come in.
I love activities like the Melissa & Doug On the Go Magicolor Coloring Books. They’re easy for the kids to use, and you don’t have to worry about big messes in the car! It’s a win for everyone. Bonus points for you if you get them a flat surface to do these activities on. Before our big move, I invested in these lap desks for the car. They’re the perfect size for smaller children, and then have a nice cushion underneath so that it’s comfortable on their legs, too.
Give Them Time to Be Active
No one likes to sit for a long time in the car, not even adults. When you’re travelling and road tripping with kids, it’s super important to give them a little time here and there to be active.
One easy way to do this is to stop at places, like rest stops, where your kids can get out and move around. We do this during our bathroom breaks. Often times, before getting the kids back into the car, we’ll have them do jumping jacks. Other ways we get them active is by silly, fun things like having them hop like a bunny to the car. If there’s space, we might let them run around in a few circles, or have them walk along the edge of a sidewalk like a balance beam.
It only takes about ten extra minutes to add these few activities to our stops on road trips. Just make sure that you’re in a safe, open place, and that you keep an eye on your kids while they’re running around. I’m telling you, though…that active time helps, even if it’s only for a bit!
Keep Your Expectations Low When Road Tripping With Kids
Road tripping with kids can be such a spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment type of an event. You never know when someone is going to need to use the bathroom, or when someone is going to have a meltdown. Keep your expectations low for this very reason.
So many parents get ready for their vacations thinking it will be the most fun, relaxing time for the family. But it’s often a trigger for stress, meltdowns and anxiety. Instead of expecting this perfect, fun event, expect that you and your family will have hiccups along the way while still having fun. This will keep you from getting too disappointed or stressed out when everything doesn’t go as planned.
If you have kids with anxiety or sensory issues like I do, plan ahead for the big moments and big triggers. Whenever I know that we will be out for a long time or in a high-stress situation, I make sure to bring fidgets for my daughter. They help to keep her calm and focused on something other than the big things around her.
Now That You’re Ready, Time to Hit the Road!
So you’ve made your lists, packed your bags and you’re ready to go! But first, make sure you get some rest. Another thing that makes road trips a little bit easier is getting a good night’s sleep before you go. Yes, I know getting those ZZs in ahead of time can be hard. If you’re leaving at night, try to take a nap before heading out. Don’t worry about the kids going to bed late the night before you leave; they’ll hopefully sleep in the car. But if you don’t get the rest you need, it will in fact be one torturous ride.
After you’re rested, it’s time to go! So, time to put on those sweats, rock the messy bun, play the energetic playlist and head out for your adventure. You may have kids with you, but no one said it couldn’t be fun. If you have any awesome traveling with kids hacks or tips, let me know in the comments below. Safe travels my friends!