Taking road trips with kids isn’t always easy. It can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding. In some cases, flying to your vacation destination is the way to go, but often it’s not an option. So, I’m always looking for tips for road trips with kids.
In our case, we have flown with the kids several times, but we have 4 kids, and flights can be very expensive. At this point, unless flying is our only option, we drive (which pretty much means if we are traveling out of the country). We have learned a few tips for road trips with kids.
Tips for road trips with
1. Preparation is key.
I have dreams of being able to take a spur of the moment road trips with kids. Even if that dream comes true, we will still need to prepare. Create a list of all of the things you need for your trip.
Having a list makes it possible to see which of your items may be necessary during the drive. I can’t tell you how many times in the past, I have realized I packed something crucial in a suitcase. You guys, my car is usually completely packed.
If I pack something in a suitcase that becomes necessary during the drive, I am in serious trouble. I am perfectly happy to admit that I am a list junkie though, and I will pretty much find a reason to make a list for everything!
2. Keep a small bag with a change of clothes within reach.
To me, a road trips with kids mean a drive of at least 4+ hours. That said, we have been in the car for 2 hours and ended up needing a change of clothes for someone. Trust me, there is nothing worse than sitting in a car with a child who has decided his wet sleeve is absolutely the most uncomfortable thing that he has ever had to deal with.
There’s also nothing worse than reaching your destination and realizing someone waited until the last minute to use the bathroom, and now smells like pee. It’s also always nice to have quick access to a sweatshirt, pjs, and/or bathing suits.
Even if you choose not to eat in the car, having snacks is crucial to making a road trip enjoyable in this family. There are times when we are home and I wonder how my children could possibly be hungry after they’ve eaten.
The same thing happens on road trips. We are all much happier when there are snacks in the car.
4. Make sure all of your electronics are charged.
I won’t lie. There are times I forget to charge the kids’ kindles until a couple of hours before we leave. Unfortunately, when that happens, the charge doesn’t last long, and I am left with some very upset kids.
5. Take away all electronics for a day or two before your trip.
Our kids have a tendency to let their electronics sit around for days or weeks uncharged. I’m completely fine with that because I would rather they weren’t on them all the time.
That said, once they see me charging them, they all of a sudden need to play with them until we leave. Then we get in the car, and they’re already bored with them. Taking them away for a couple of days makes them seem new again.
6. Try one of these audiobooks instead of electronics.
Audiobooks are a fun way to use your imagination, and pass the time as a family on a road trip! This is a great list of audiobooks for road trips with kids.
7. Play road trip games as a family.
We play a lot of “I spy” and search for the license plate that is from the farthest state. The kids love playing games with us, and it gives them a break from entertaining themselves.
8. Pack pillows and blankets.
Most people think of this when they’re traveling late or for extra long periods, but this one thing that makes a difference regardless of how far we are going or when we are traveling.
There is always one kid that’s too cold, while another wants the AC on. Also, it makes the trip so much more comfy!
9. Collect new “car toys” throughout the year.
Now that we have our trip planned for the summer, and I know the ride is going to be long (over 20 hours), I have already started searching for things the kids will enjoy in the car.
You would be surprised how entertained these kids are with a new coloring book and box of crayons. It’s got to be new though. The Dollar Tree is filled with road trip goodies. Fill a bag and stick it in the car for those “Are we there yet?” moments.
10. Make stops part of the trip.
Last year, when we drove to Florida, I made a conscious decision to make the stops part of our trip. Normally, I would say suck it up and get the driving out of the way. It’s different with kids.
When we stopped, we chose places that had a play area, or something interesting to see. We spent 30 minutes to an hour when we stopped. The drive was still long, and we were exhausted by the time it was over, but the stops made the drive more bearable for the kids. I’m 99 percent sure they would have happened regardless of whether I had accounted for them or not.
The difference is, I would have been really upset that we weren’t making good time if I hadn’t planned to spend some time at each stop. Frame of mind is super important when you’re taking a road trip with kids.
11. If you can hack it, drive through the middle of the night.
This is one that didn’t always work for us. Our babies never slept in the car as babies. Driving through the middle of the night would have been torture. Now that they are older, driving through the middle of the night has been a total game changer.
I was really concerned this would mean losing a day of vacation because I would be so exhausted from the drive. Turns out, all these years of sleep deprivation have helped me to manage on basically no sleep. Also, we took turns. So, when one of us was tired, we slept and the other took a turn driving.
***I would NOT recommend this if you’re driving alone!! In fact, there were actually 3 of us taking turns, that way there were always 2 people up at all times.
Here is a great list of must haves for your next road trip with kids!
So, what tips do you have for road trips with kids? Or are you terrified to plan road trips with kids? Let us know in the comments!