With a large family, we have come to accept the fact that it is just more budget-friendly for us to travel by car everywhere. And, honestly, it’s not a bad thing. We quite prefer it. As a child, I looked forward to our summer road trips. Now, my kids expect the same… only they are more often than just the summer time. We homeschool and like to travel to let the kids see everything up close and personal.
Road Trips with Kids
But that is not to say that road trips with kids does not have its challenges. Traveling with 5 kids over the course of almost 19 years, we have learned a thing or two about how to make the process easier. How to keep the kids entertained. And, most importantly, how to maintain our sanity on the road. Of course, some tips may seem more like common sense, but they are tips for road trips with kids that work for us.
1. Be Prepared:
- Pack the night before (at least). Our girls are typically packed a few days before. Laundry is done. Outfits are laid out by day/activity. Shoes matched up. Jackets with the bags. Toiletries ready to throw in the bag after use and we’re gone. Last minute scouring for things is too stressful and not good for anyone.
- Prep for anything. Napkins and wipes should be handy for accidents along the road. Even if you do not allow eating the car, you never know. A first-aid kit for scrapes. Bug spray. Sun screen. Blankets. Whatever you think may arise on the road.
- Check the vehicle. Air pressure in tires. Fluids. Oil change. Brakes. Spare tire. Jack in the car. Jumper cables. Again, be prepared for anything. Being broke down on the side of the road… with kids… is never fun.
- Set expectations. We do our best to plan our stops along the route. This allows the kids to know exactly how long they have to wait between stops or our destination and we rarely hear, “Are we there yet?“
2. Play Games:
- ABC Game. Our favorite. Simply go letter-by-letter of the alphabet and find a word that starts with each one. Q and Z are always where we get stuck for a little while, especially on country roads. But the kids love it and it engages the whole family.
- License Plate Bingo. The kids look for license plates from each state and have bingo boards to mark each one off as we go.
- I Spy. Classic game and the kids just love playing it. Our rule? It has to be something in the car.
- Scavenger Hunt. We use pre-printed lists that the kids can check off as drive down the road. It may become a family hunt but each kids has their own card to check off and that’s enough.
- Name that Tune. One person hums a tune while the others try to guess the song. The one who guesses then gets to hum.
3. Car Activities:
- 1-line Story. Someone starts off the story with a sentence. The next person then adds another line and you continue around the car. No one knows where the story will lead and it’s fun to engage everyone.
- Road Trip Map. We map out our trip and then give each child a copy of the map. They can then either ask (for the younger ones) or read where we are on road signs and follow the journey. Include pit stops, landmarks, and other fun things to notice on the road as well. They can then easily track how far you are from each destination.
- Stickers. Sticker books can bring long periods of fun for kids. Colorforms are also perfect for this. For some reason it’s fun to put sticky pictures on things.
- Books. Yep, good ol’ fashioned books. My kids love to read. Pack them in a bag and there ya go!
- Toys. Each child is given a backpack they can fill with books, small toys, or other items to entertain them along the way. The girls typically bring at least one doll of some sort and some sort of small figurines for lap play in the car.
- Movies. If you allow it, give them a way to watch a movie. For our youngest, the Disney Movies Anywhere app is perfect! We download a couple of movies the night before and when she needs to take a break from everything she can watch a movie.
4. Snack Ideas:
- Fruit snacks. The little packages of chewy snacks that the kids can easily take out of the package one at a time and eat. Yeah, those.
- Frozen grapes. My girls love their grapes cold and this is an easy way to keep them that way. Freeze them overnight and then serve them cold in the car. Another simple finger food… and a healthy one at that!
- Pretzels. Trail mix. Raisins. Really, anything you know your child will eat and that can easily be eaten in a car. Plus, something that will not fall apart with crumbs and leave a mess. You do have to travel for a bit in that seat.
This doesn’t even incorporate everything I am sure. You know your kid. Pack accordingly and do your best to remain patient. Road trips can be incredible and stressful at the same time. Embrace the time with your family and the memories made. I know we do.
What are your best tips for road trips with kids?
I would love to hear what works best for you. New, fresh ideas are always helpful. Catches the kids off guard and really helps keep them entertained!