Road trip with kids? You are probably thinking that I’m crazy?
And the answer is…
Yes, yes, I am.
If you are questioning yourself on why you would travel with your kids, you can read that here. Or if you are traveling with your teen and don’t want to lose your shit, read here. But if you want to know how to road trip with kids and stay sane, keep reading.
A road trip with kids can be an amazing experience for both kids and parents. However, there is nothing worse than being unprepared on a road trip, especially with kids.
Taking a road trip with kids can be overwhelming, stressful, and exhausting. But there are ways to make it more simple, enjoyable, and fun.
Road trips are a popular way for American families to take vacations. It’s oftentimes cheaper to drive, not to mention easier than navigating chaotic airports, especially when traveling with kids.
Long summer road trips can be a great bonding experience with your family. However, too much time cooped up in a car definitely has its challenges.
Younger children can get bored and restless easily, if sitting for long stretches of dull scenery. And this can make them feel cranky and moody.
Try out these tips to make your road trip with kids a little less stressful and little more fun for the whole family.
Everyone will stay calmer in a clutter-free car, so toss trash at every stop and tackle messes ASAP with travel packs of baby wipes and plastic bags stashed in every door. And finding ways to keep everything where it should be is essential.
Having organizers will help keep the car cleaner and safer. And it will also keep everyone organized with having in between the seat’s organizers or behind the seat headrest organizers. Check out the below organizers to assist you on your next road trip with kids. Click on the photo to view details.
Start preparing for your next road trip with this, road trip master list.
Snacks and Meals
Before you leave on your road trip, portion out some healthy snacks that the kids love. This way you know they won’t be asking to stop at McDonald’s in every major city.
Pack double what you think you’ll need. There is something about a road trip that makes everyone hungry, even when you’ve just eaten breakfast.
Kids on a sugar high stuck in a car for hours are a recipe for headaches all round, so pack food that is nutritious and low in sugar.
Restaurant chains are quick, relatively cheap, and abundant, so it’s easy to just make a quick stop or go through the drive through while on vacation. However, with just a little planning, you can track down healthier, just-as-inexpensive options that are sure to please the kids.
To keep your family healthy while on vacation check out the local supermarkets that might have deli counters or salad bars (like Whole Foods), local farmers markets, or food trucks, which you can find on the WTF Where’s The Foodtruck app.
The Foodtruck app is currently expanding nationwide throughout the States and if your favorite food truck isn’t on the app, let them know and they will add it for free. With the app you can search by cuisine, browse all foodtrucks near you, and get directions using Google Maps.
Learn all about Google Maps and what it has to offer here. Or learn how to write and share reviews through Google Maps by becoming a Google Local Guide, here.
Cup Holder Food Tray
If you do happen to stop and get an on-the-go meal, try using cup holder food trays. These will help with keeping everything organized and with less spilling.
Road Trip with Kids, You Need Pit Stops
With having to pee every hour or if it’s simply to get out and stretch the legs. Keeping your blood flowing is a must.
When stopping for a pit stop have the kids do a relay race. And if you are able, join them. It’s a healthy form of exercise that is good for the whole family.
Remember that it isn’t just about the destination. Stop off regularly at the quirky roadside attractions. The little breaks may add time to the trip, but they’re always memorable and offer opportunities for bouts of exercise.
You could even take it a step further and seek out theme parks, water parks, or national parks along your route. The historian Wallace Stegner once called the national park system “America’s best idea.” There are more than 400 spread throughout the country.
Entertainment While on The Road
Mark the passing time or distance
Marking the passing distance will help kids keep track of how far you have gone. And this will help with the ‘are we there yet’ question.
To do this, you can use many different methods. One method, would be to use post-it notes.
Place post-it notes on their window with every major city that you are passing through. And as you pass through that city, they can take down that post-it note.
A way to mark the passing hours is to give them a treat every hour, on the hour. This would work well if the road trip was a shorter trip.
I think we can all agree that kids need to stay entertained. Am I right? So, there is nothing better than having a few different entertainment stations.
It will help with consolidating the amount of stuff that they bring with. Because they can rotate through them.
For instance, you would have different stations for different activities.
- Station 1 would have media (headphones, devices, etc.)
- Station 2 would have toys
- Station 3 has books
- Station 4 would be an art tray (notebooks, markers, stickers, etc.)
Having clear bags so that you can easily see what’s inside is also helpful. Rotating the stations every couple of hours or so gives the kids a variety of things to do.
Download No-Wifi-Needed Apps and Games
Having the right apps on hand can take a family vacation from ‘meh’ to awesome. I understand that not everybody has a mobile phone, so with some of these apps only one person needs one.
Car-tegories: Road Trip Category Game
This game can be played with friends and family and you can also customize the app by picking your favorite topics. Such as, history, music, cartoons, theater, Harry Potter, and more. It’s like verbal charades in your car. The app is designed specifically for the car.
Plates Free Family Travel Game
Ever played the license plate game? Well here you have it online. See how many different vehicle license plates you and your family can find on your next road trip. As you find the plates, check them off your list. Play as a group or individually.
There is also a paid version that will allow you to save the games, so you can continue the game for your next road trip. The game has 57 U.S. license plates, 13 from Canada, and 33 from Mexico.
Keep the kids entertained with car bingo. Like regular bingo but with a twist. Match the sights you see in your travels on your phone.
Riddles – Just Tricky Riddles & Brain Teasers
Riddle me this, riddle me that. Instead of getting stressed, test your brain with some riddles. Or test your IQ with the tricky brain teasers. It can be fun for the whole family.
Or you can play offline car games that our ancestors have been playing for years. Before cell phones or iPads even existed.
I Spy is a trip staple. The first player says ‘I spy with my little eye something…’ then gives a clue to something they can see that other participants must look for.
The alphabet game. Players must find objects that begin with each letter of the alphabet. Or another way to play this game is to find each letter on a billboard or street sign (in order).
License Plate Game. Like the Plates Free Travel Game but you create the list of all 50 states yourself, then have your kids try to spot a car with a license plate from each state.
Another option is to check out the Dollar Stores to find some road trip games. You would be surprised on what these stores have for options. And everything is just a dollar.
Road trip goodie bags
The road trip goodie bag keeps everyone guessing. This idea is great, especially if your kids like surprises. In each major city, of course this all depends on how far you are traveling; each child gets a goodie bag. Inside of these goodie bags can be anything from dollar store toys (to keep them busy until the next major city) to treats.
Manage Car Sickness
Speaking of messes: Many kids are prone to car sickness. If you anticipate that someone in the vehicle will be motion sick, then it’s a good idea to travel with some disposable bags. This is also a good thing if traveling with adults that tend to drink too much the night before.
But if you would like to try and keep the sickness at bay, with motion sickness not drinking wise, eat foods with ginger or peppermint. These are clinically proven to help prevent nausea. Although some foods may help with nausea, consuming less, in general, helps to prevent getting sick.
Staying healthy while traveling is a great way to keep everyone having fun.
How to Stay Sane when Going on a Road Trip with Kids
Fighting off backseat boredom can be a big issue when taking a road trip with kids. But don’t let this stop you from taking a road trip with your kids. Instead be okay with some boredom.
Kids stay in a better mood on road trips when we focus on their ability to feel relaxed over making sure they are always having fun.
Find ways to avoid the messes and organize gadgets, so that the trip is a little more manageable.
It is a brave parent who can face the prospect of driving for hours, or days, with a bunch of kids in the back singing ‘Are we there yet?’ on repeat. But you got this!
Taking a road trip with kids doesn’t need to be stressful. In fact, with a little preparation and planning, the journey could even end up being better than your destination.
Looking for some inspiration to take that road trip, check out 14 Inspiring Reasons to Travel to Your Next Destination, 21 Amazing Benefits of Travel and Why It’s Good For You, or Start Traveling, The Top 5 Beginning Steps.