Traveling is a lot of fun. When you have kids and want to travel, usually the cheapest way to do that is in the car, which means road trip.
We actually live more than a couple of hours from family so even going to see family for us has always been a road trip.
Road trips can be stressful, but they don’t have to be.
With a little bit of planning, road trips can actually be quite enjoyable, especially when you are on your way to a fun destination.
I will be honest, even with the best planning, by the end of the road trip everyone can just be done.
But using this tips can help to make that the execption, instead of the norm.
It will also help you look forward to your next road trip with your kids.
Planning Your Next Road Trip With Kids
Start off your road trip by planning it out. Figure out where it is you are going, if you want to find things to stop and do on the way, and how long you can take.
These basic things will be most of what you need to think about when planning your trip.
Make sure you also let you kids help plan your trip. This will keep them invested in the trip and more excited on the road, especially if they helped pick some of the activities.
Here are some other tips to think about especially when you are traveling with young kids:
Depending on the purpose of your road trip, short destinations can make traveling quite doable while still covering a lot of ground. There are so many cool things to stop and do all over the country that all you would have to do is a little research to see what is along your route. This could be a great way to break up a long trip and do some sightseeing.
Another option is to make your vacation up of short destinations. We did this on our last trip and I thought it worked really well. The longest we were ever in the car was 6 hours on our way home. Our whole vacation was traveling a couple of hours to a new destination, staying a day or two and then heading for the next one. We made it in a circle and we got to see a lot of cool places (mostly national parks sites because I love them 🙂
Have your kids get involved by giving them a map (yes, I said map) or even google maps and have them help pick out places they would like to visit. It will keep them more excited in the car knowing that they help plan the road trip.
Alternate Driving Times
If you have a long way to go, younger travelers, or young ones who don’t travel well, try experimenting with different times of the day to drive. If you are a night owl, driving at night might be the perfect solution so get a big chunk of the traveling done while everyone sleeps, plus bonus, it saves you from needing to find a place to stay for the night.
When we had nappers, I also like leaving in the late afternoon when they hadn’t had a nap. They were able to fall asleep very quickly and then would sleep the first couple hours of the trip. As they are all older now, that doesn’t happen. They even are awake when we do late trips too.
The plus side to driving at night is also you will be able to avoid traffic. If you know you are going to need to drive around major cities, driving at night will allow you to (hopefully) avoid major traffic or traffic buildup due to road construction.
How Do I Entertain My Kids on a Road Trip
Games To Play on a Road Trip
Playing games in the car is a great way to pass the time and for the whole family to engage with each other. It also requires just the people in your car which means you don’t have to make room for more things. Most are easy enough that the whole family can participate, although younger kids may need some help.
The Alphabet Game.
This is always the first game that gets played and for good reason, it’s fun. Plus who doesn’t want to be the first one to find that sneaky “j” or impossible “q”. It makes you quite the expert and reading the backs of fast passing cars.
If you aren’t familiar with the alphabet game, it’s simple. You look for letters outside the car, starting wiht ‘a’ and trying to get to ‘z’. Want to mix it up? Try these twists. Play it backwards and start with ‘z’ or make a rule that you can only get one letter per sign (this will also make the game last longer).
I would suggest that if you play this game you play it near bigger cities where there are more cars, signs, and opportunities to find letters in a timely manner. When you are driving down the highway in the middle of nowhere the game can become slow and everyone will disengage, so make sure there are enough opportunities to keep the game interesting.
Another version of the alphabet game is that instead of finding the letters, you have to find something that starts with the letter. So you start with “a” and must find something outside that starts with “a” and then you work your way down the list. This is a great option for kids who feel like the alphabet game is to easy. Again, it will probably work better when you are driving through places that have more things to see, thus more opportunities to find things.
I-spy is another fun game the whole family can play, but this one too, you may need to play in areas that have more things to look at and that stay in view for a little bit, otherwise you might pass by whatever a person picked becuase there wasn’t enough time for everyone to guess.
You will also wantto clarify whether people can “spy” things only outside the car or inside the car as well. It’s quite frustrating otherwise. (Ask me how I know).
This game doesn’t require anything to look at outside so it’s perfect for those long stretches of the trip where there is not much to see. If you are unfamiliar with this game, the person who is “it” things of something and then everyone else has 20 questions to figure it out. They are typically only allowed to ask “yes” and “no” questions.
Snacks for a Road Trip
Snacks make a road trip right? If you thought kids were hungry 10 minutes after dinner, just wait until they are in the car with nothing to distract them.
The way we typically do snacks are things that don’t make too much mess. Now kids can make a mess out of anything but since it’s a road trip, we try to keep everything as organized as possible since there is such limited space.
We usually to stick to crackers, fruit snacks, and nuts. If there is a cooler in the car, then we will have fruits, veggies, and string cheese.
I stay away from things that could melt together or things can make hands sticky when I can, so that the whole vehicle doesn’t end up one large trap.
You will have to decide what is right for your family, but I find those are the easiest things to grab at the store before we leave and also while we are on vacation and may run out. The first set of snacks is super easy, you don’t have to worry too much about the car getting too hot or cold unless it’s freezing.
They are also super simple to take with you if you are going to different things like zoos or other attractions where you want to have your own food available.
Having designated snack times will help you to not lose your sanity and also gives kids something to look forward to.
Audio books are another great way to pass the time in the car. They also last a lot longer than a movie, meaning you can pass more time with them. It’s also a great way to do something together in the car. Instead of having everyone engaged in different activities, with audio books everyone can listen the same book.
If you don’t buy audio books very often, here are some great ways to find audio books for cheap or free.
Things to Remember to Bring on a Road Trip
If you have kids that deal with car sickness, you will want to make sure you have everything in place to take car of this. Things like
- plastic bags/buckets
- garbage bags
- changes of clothes
These things will help you be prepared and not ruin the trip. It will simply be an inconvenience you are prepared for and can take care of quickly.
Even if your kids don’t have a history of car sickness, having a couple of these things handy is a good idea, because with kids …… you never know.
If you bring anything electronic with you on your trip, don’t forget batteries and chargers or anything else you might need to make them work.
Nothing is worse than telling kids the can play on a tablet then having it die 10 minutes later.
Make sure everything is charged and ready to go before you leave, plus bring extras. 🙂
How to Prepare for a Family Road Trip
The best way to enjoy a road trip with your family is to plan ahead. When you didn’t have kids it may have been fun to just jump in the car and drive whereever you ended up, but that will be a disaster with kids.
For the best experience for both you and your kids, planning is the key to making a road trip enjoyable for everyone.
Start by figuring out where you want to go and find places you can stop along the way.
Make sure you have plenty of activites and things to do in the car for your kids.
Remember to pack the essentials. Worst case senario is that you end up stopping at a store to pick up what you forgot, but it’s still a hassle.
I really enjoying road trips with our kids. It’s a great way to travel, see new things, and make memories that will last a lifetime.
Theresa is a homeschooling mom of 7. An entrepreneur at heart, I started working from home while balancing the responsibilities of homeschooling. My mission is to help other large families moms balance their responsibilities while also living a life they love.