A road trip with the kids is a rite of passage, though not without challenges. It’s often the most practical way to travel with your family. The biggest reason being the cost to fly your family to your destination can be extremely expensive. Taking a road trip with kids can be budget-friendly and free up funds for when you get to your destination.
Alas, planning a road trip with kids may seem like an overwhelming task. The questions are endless:
- How will you keep your kids entertained?
- What things can you do on a long car ride?
- What activities for toddlers in the car can you plan?
- What should I pack for something to do in the car?
- How do you keep your kids from repeatedly asking, “Are we there yet?”
Breakie Bunch wants to help you make your road trip with kids the best it can be with some helpful ideas for things to do on a long car ride. So, before you go on a road trip with the kids, consider these ten tips, from things to do in a long car ride to activities for toddlers in the car. With these tips, you’re sure to keep everyone happy and reach your destination with smiles on your faces.
10 Tips for Car Rides with Kids
1. Prepare Your Kids Before the Car Ride
If your trip is not a surprise, it’s a good idea to prepare for your road trip with your kids. Before the trip, get them ready with these tips.
– Talk about the trip.
To get your kids excited about the road trip, talk about the journey with them. Start by sharing why you will be visiting the location, how long it will take to get there, and how long you will be staying.
– Explain where you will be going and stopping.
Pull up a map of where you will be going and show your kids. This is an excellent way to get them to understand why the trip in the car will be long. If you have some fun stops along the way, show them those as well!
– Check out books or videos about where you are going.
Your local library will be a great resource to check out books on where you are going on your road trip. You can find age-appropriate stories like The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Car Trip, or C is for California: A Golden State ABC to read to or with your kids. YouTube is an excellent tool for finding videos of destinations that can introduce your kids to any attractions you may be visiting.
2. Let your Kids Get Involved in Planning the Car Ride
Anytime a child is empowered with choices and planning an activity, it helps him or her enjoy the activity even more. Plan out things to do on a long car ride together to try to make the road trip more enjoyable all around.
Let your kids pick out car snacks.
We all know how much kids love to snack, and car snacks are fun to allow your kids to be involved in planning the long car ride. A good variety of snacks, both healthy and treats, will keep their bellies full and make the road trip with your kids feel a bit better.
Choose fun games, books, and activities to play.
Taking road trips with kids can be an excellent way to find new activities for toddlers and play some car ride games. Classic car ride games like I Spy, the license plate game, and the alphabet game are fun to involve the whole family. Some suitable activities for toddlers in the car would be best if they include big pieces that are easy to grip and won’t fall between seats, stickers, and a clipboard for a hard surface to color or draw on. Check out the dollar sections of stores for new things to do on a long car ride. We also love subscription boxes, which can be a fun way to add a new activity to the mix when traveling with kids.
3. Establish Rules for the Car Ride
No matter where you are, at home, at a restaurant, or in the car, it’s important to establish rules with your kids. Set some firm but straightforward rules for traveling in the car on the long ride.
No yelling or screaming in the car
While no one likes yelling or screaming at any time, it can be dangerous for the driver of the car if it happens. If your kids get mad or argue, redirect them with a game or sing along.
Consider breaking screen time limits
As parents, you are going to need a little downtime while taking a road trip with kids. Electronic games are definitely a time-consuming thing to do on a long car ride. Your kids may get a bit more screen time than they may get at home. Whether it’s a movie you downloaded before the trip or a game, screen time is another activity for kids to do in the car. Don’t forget to charge the devices fully, bring extra cords, and pack headphones.
4. Have Your Kids Favorite Items Accessible
To keep your kids feeling comfortable during the car ride, pack their favorite items in an accessible place in the car that will make grabbing them during the drive easy and safe.
Bring along stuffed animals and blankets.
Sometimes, multiple activities for toddlers to do in the car are not needed. A stuffed animal and small blanket to cover up or snuggle with might result in a nap or two. They may sleep less often as they get older, but they may still love snuggling with their favorite items as comfort from home.
Sit in the back with rear-facing infants.
If you are traveling with a rear-facing infant, it may be more comfortable to sit in the backseat with them. You’ll find it easier for bottle feeding, snacking, and entertaining your infant during the drive: pack extra pacifiers for them and a pillow for you!
5. Bring Snacks and Refillable Water Bottles
Snacking is a thing to do on a long car ride. We enjoy it so much we’re mentioning it twice! If you think you’ve packed enough, pack more! Hungry kids will not travel well. Travel tip – bring a few empty plastic bags for banana peels, wrappers, and other snack trash.
Use a cooler for snacks.
When planning and packing snacks for your road trip, use a cooler to include fresh and healthier snacks like beef sticks, string cheese, fruits, and vegetables.
Provide easy access to snacks and drinks.
Kids and adults always tend to eat more snacks while sitting in the car. To make it easy, keep snacks and drinks in a reachable location for you and your kids.
Use reusable water bottles for fewer spills.
The refillable water bottle will help minimize spills. Juice boxes and plastic water bottles can be squeezed and played with on a road trip with kids. Using a sturdier water bottle will eliminate that boredom-driven temptation. If your kids are younger, make sure they have used the water bottle before your road trip and can drink out of it easily.
6. Prepare a Playlist of Music or Books
A family sing-along or story is a favorite thing to do in a long car ride with kids. If your family has some favorite movies or books, see if they’re available for download.
Find kid-friendly soundtracks to sing along with.
You can make your playlist or borrow CDs from the library to put together a sing-along for the whole family. Disney movie soundtracks or TV show tunes with songs your kids will know will get them jamming. This is a cute activity for toddlers in the car, but your older kids will enjoy it, too!
Choose audiobooks for something to do on a long car ride.
Take advantage of the road trip with kids and download a few audiobooks for the drive. Depending on your kids’ ages, you could choose a book that is longer to listen to throughout the journey or short stories for toddlers.
Play music to wind down.
Most likely, during the road trip, you’ll be driving during nap or bedtime. To wind down, choose a playlist with calming music or lullabies.
7. Take Breaks for Stretching and Movement
Even if you think you and your crew can power through, planning stops for stretching and movement will allow everyone to rest for a few minutes. Your trip may take longer, but it will be more enjoyable.
Plan out stops for bathroom
You and your kids can plan out some rest areas that will provide good breaks and opportunities for everyone to stretch along your route. Google has an interactive map with information on the amenities offered at rest areas such as WiFi, pet areas, and picnic tables. A grocery store is a good option for a bathroom stop because you can pick up new snacks, sandwiches, and cool drinks, too!
Look for a playground.
Giving your kids and yourself a bit of fresh air at a playground is a fun way to see a new playground and to break up your road trip. During the summer months, a splash pad is a great place to stop, burn energy, and cool off. If the weather doesn’t allow outdoor play, a fast-food restaurant with a play place is a good alternative.
Find points of interests to stop and explore.
As you plan out your trip, identify points of interest along the way. Seeing Chatty Belle, the world’s largest talking cow, would be an activity for toddlers in the car to look forward to and it won’t take a lot of time.
8. Travel During Sleep Hours
Timing your drive will be an important decision when you plan a road trip with kids. Your experience may vary depending on the ages of your kids, but as a rule of thumb: driving while your kids are sleeping is more comfortable and peaceful.
Drive through the night.
Starting your drive right before or after bedtime might be a good option for your family. If you know your kids will be good sleepers in the car, you can drive for several hours without distractions after the initial excitement.
Plan to drive after lunch and during naptime.
To get a few hours of sleeping time out of your kids, leaving after lunch might work well for you. Kids who are hungry will not sleep or travel well.
9. Be Prepared with Extras
While you may be able to stop at a store along the way to pick up any extra items you may have forgotten, you’ll save yourself some time by packing them ahead of time and reaching your destination when scheduled.
Pack a change of clothes for everyone.
Even though you may have a suitcase full of clothes, packing a change of clothes for adults and kids in a bag that is easy to reach in the event of a spill or an accident will prevent having to unload the whole car.
Fill up your diaper bag with diapers, wipes, pullups.
You’ll want to make diaper changes quickly when you have to make a stop in a public rest area. If your toddler is new to potty training, a pullup to wear to avoid any accidents and a wet car seat might be the way to go.
Traveling with hand sanitizer is a must.
You have many ideas for things to do on a long car ride. Some may cause hands to get a little messy. Be sure to include hand sanitizer to clean your hands without needing to stop for running water.
Include a first aid kit for small emergencies.
As you travel along your route, a first aid kit with bandages and over-the-counter medications for children and adults is useful as you may not be able to find these items in a rest area.
Add a roll of toilet paper and hand wipes, just in case.
As much as you hope this doesn’t happen, we’ve all run into a public restroom to find there is no toilet paper or paper towels. Bringing your own may seem a bit much, but when traveling with young kids, you may also have to make a pit stop on the side of the road. If you have a travel potty, they’ll come in handy.
Travel with a travel potty.
Many moms like to travel with a potty all the time, not only for road trips with kids. You won’t mind your bigger kids and newly trained toddlers touching this potty when you have to make a stop in a parking lot or side of the road. Travel potty’s also fold up nicely and don’t take up much space.
10. Take Advantage of the Time to Bond
A road trip with kids is an opportunity to bond as a family. Take the time to talk about road trips and memories you had as a child, sing silly songs, and play fun car games. Your kids will remember the experience and the time spent in the car and look forward to your next road trip.