Road Trips with Kids: 10 Tips for Success

road trips with kids

Road trips with kids can feel like a daunting task! When my twins were six months old, my husband and I packed up our minivan and drove the seven hours and 40 minutes to Deadwood, SD for an extended family vacation.

We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into during that first family road trip.

Then the next summer we traveled over 20 hours to Utah. And then traveled more hours to Arizona and Colorado, over the course of 10 days.

Since those trips, we have found some things that work well for our family. Whether you are traveling with a little baby or a teenager, these tips are bound to make your road trips with kids easier!

10 Tips for Road Trips with Kids

1. Bring lots of snacks

My first travel tip is to pack a lot of different snacks that everyone can enjoy. Snacks that are easy to eat and easy to clean up are always a good choice!

We like to stock up with a variety of pre-packaged snacks, like cookies, gummies, animal crackers, etc. We also make sure to pack snacks that are going to keep little tummies fuller longer (and are healthier), such as cheese sticks, fruit, and vegetables. Just be sure to cut up small pieces for those little ones to prevent choking hazards.

2. Pack lots of activities

Pack plenty of new toys, books, and activities for the little ones to enjoy. I typically begin stocking up a few weeks in advance with little items from the dollar store or the dollar section at Target.

Some ideas include a new coloring book, stickers, and picture books. I find that spreading out the distribution of these items throughout the road trip really helps to keep the little ones occupied.

3. Plan stops ahead of time

Another tip we found to make things go smoothly is to plan out our stops. We typically like to find a points of interest along the way. This allows everyone to stretch their legs or go for a walk. Try looking for scenic overlooks, state monuments, or state historic sites. These are typically right alongside the roadways and allow for quick stops.

4. Stick to your normal routine

Try to adhere to your usual routine as much as much as you can.

For longer road trips, when we will be driving for the majority of the day, we plan on leaving for our destination as early as possible. This allows for us to keep our normal schedule and plan our day around our children’s schedule.

We typically can drive anywhere from three to four hours without stopping, depending on gas mileage, etc. Then we will stop for lunch, and naps take place after lunch. For older children, I recommend offering some quiet time in the car to allow them time to recharge.

5. Bring the comforts of home

I find it’s good to have a little piece of home to provide comfort and make nap time and evenings a breeze. We bring along a small pillow and a favorite blanket for each child. And we also like to pack a stuffed animal for the littles to have during nap time.

6. Get outside

When stopping for lunch, we like to either pack a lunch or grab lunch from a restaurant then drive to a nearby park to eat. This allows for everyone to be out of the vehicle for a little bit and limits us from having to sit even longer as the food is prepared. We have found that letting children burn off some energy makes things easier in the long run.

7. Be prepared

Bring along a first aid kit and create a car sickness emergency pack. It is always a great idea to include a first aid kit in the car for those bumps and bruises that may pop up along the way. I also like to include other items, such as Band-Aids, extra towels, pain killers, and Clorox wipes. Keeping a training potty in the back of the car is also a good hack for bathroom emergencies that can’t wait until the next stop.  

8. Create a playlist 

Build a playlist with songs for the whole family. We like to go old school and bring CDs, but a digital playlist works great as well. We also like to play a game where we guess what song is coming up next. If someone answers correctly, they get a little prize, such as a piece of candy or an extra snack.

9. Pack a map

Pack an old-fashioned map (or atlas)! For school-aged children, bringing a map of the U.S. keeps them on their toes when we ask them questions, such as, “What highway are we on?” or, “Guess how long until we reach out destination?” The possibilities for this are endless and it’s bound to keep your little traveler feeling like they are a part of the driving process as well.

10. Play games

Play games that include everyone in the vehicle. We like to purchase games such as travel bingo, I Spy travel books, Spot It, etc. These games really help to pass the time and keep everyone engaged. We also like to give out small prizes to the winner of each game.

Road trips with the family can be a great experience, producing memories that your children are bound to never forget! Planning for your road trips will ensure your trip goes by quickly and safely. Happy traveling!

And looking to travel outside the U.S. with kids? See International Travel with Kids: Tips, Tricks, & Why You Should Do It.
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Ashlee is a wife, mother, teacher, and infertility awareness advocate. Born and raised on a farm in south central North Dakota, Ashlee grew up learning about the true meaning of hard work, love of family, and the importance of faith. After graduating from high school, she moved to Moorhead where she would meet the love of her life and future husband, Jay. She attended MSUM where she earned her degree in English Education and began teaching in 2014. In 2018, Ashlee earned her Masters in Education from The University of Mary in Bismarck, ND. After struggling through infertility for five years, Ashlee and Jay welcomed miracle twins, Hannah and Leo, to their family in 2019. They currently reside in Horace, ND, building their dream home in 2021. Ashlee’s love of reading and writing is manifested in her work as a full-time language arts teacher at Kindred High School in Kindred, ND and as a part time online adjunct professor at the University of Mary. She also works part time as a receptionist at Scheels. Ashlee credits her ability to juggle the demands of full-time work with her part time jobs to her parents, who have always showed her the value of hard work. Ashlee is blessed to have a hands-on husband and in-laws always willing to lend a helping hand. Ashlee has a passion for sharing her infertility journey in the hopes of helping others who are experiencing it themselves. She shares about infertility and motherhood on her Instagram page. Ashlee’s personal hobbies include baking, decorating, and shopping. She and her family enjoy summer road trips, weekends at the lake, and traveling to her parent’s farm. Ashlee wishes to share with her readers the joys and challenges of life as a working mother and her experience battling infertility in the hopes of inspiring them in their own lives.

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