Tips for Taking a Road Trip with Kids
We can all use some tips for taking a road trip with kids! Going on a road trip with kids can be SO much fun! We have the best conversations on road trips, and it makes for great quality time. It takes a lot of patience, food, and optimism. Below you’ll find some tips to make it a little easier, and maybe even fun!
Taking a road trip with your kids is no small feat. We are blessed with good car travelers, and we have made the drive from Ohio to Florida more times than I can count. We have also taken a trip out west, as well as to the Carolina beaches many, many times. While our technique and timeline has changed as we moved through the stages of childhood and now we have teens, we still enjoy a good road trip every summer as a family! I am certain that many people think we are crazy for packing our car full of snacks, luggage, and three kids and driving off on an adventure. But, with the right preparation and expectations, a road trip with your family can actually be fun!
How to Prepare for a Road Tip with Kids
1. Before you even get in the car, you need to have a plan for about how far you are going and what your stop will entail. Are you driving through the night or stopping at a hotel to break up your trip? We’ve done both, and it’s worked out fine. The younger our kids were, the easier it was to drive through the night because they were sleeping so soundly in their seats. It wasn’t my favorite choice to drive through the night, but it worked. When stopping at a hotel, we found it best to stop when we had a few hours they could play in the pool and wind down before bed. Walking into a strange environment and expecting my kids to sleep right away is unrealistic for our family.
2. Seating arrangement is a key to getting along. Who’s sitting where? Do you have to consider car seats and access to the children who are not quite independent? For us, the carseat goes in the middle row of seats, and we put one of the older kids with our youngest so they are nearby to help. The other son sits in the third row-usually the one who doesn’t get super car sick. Factor in who can help get snacks from a bag, who needs help with their devices, etc.
3. Your child’s schedule is important for planning your time in the car. Kids have their best, and worst, times of day. Our kids are pretty quiet in the morning. They are calmer, more patient, and more focused. Consider traveling at naptime or right before bedtime (after a good dinner) to get your trip off to a pleasant start. One of our sons gets super car sick if we are headed through the mountainous part of our trip first thing after breakfast. This affects what time we leave, and where we stop for the night. Try to time your stops right before a meal so you can eat, fuel up, and take a stretch break all at once.
When we stop to get gas or eat, EVERYONE gets out and at least tries to go to the bathroom. I’ve found that this helps keep us on track with time, and eliminates stopping every twenty minutes to get everyone to the bathroom.
4. Take plenty of food. While I don’t want my family snacking the entire car ride, you never know when you will be in traffic or need something to eat before actually stopping for a meal. We pack lots of crackers, peppermints, lunchable type foods, and even a couple treats for our trips. We usually pack sandwiches to eat for lunch so we don’t have to make a stop. It also saves us some money and calories when traveling to eat in the car.
5. Give each child (if they’re old enough) an entertainment bag of their own. A small drawstring bag or school backpack is ideal for each child. As the kids get older, we let them choose their own books, card games, and devices to stay entertained in the car. For younger children, having some fun surprises packed can be a lifesaver! These are with them on the floor or beside them on the seat so they can get to them when they want something.
6. Play movies and listen to audio books. One thing my children love about roadtrips is that they can watch movies whenever they want. We even use these to help them gauge time while we are traveling. We tell them that we’ll stop for lunch after a particular movie is over, or that we are about 3 movies away from our destination. Our youngest likes to Google jokes to tell while we drive, which makes for a lot of laughter!
7. Be prepared for using extra patience and flexibility. I know that on a long car ride, I’ll end up climbing in the back to help someone find something, fix the DVD player, or just sit and read with one of the kids. It’s just the way it goes. I try to keep everything copasetic so my husband can concentrate on driving and getting us there safely and “quickly”.
8. Make the most of each stop. At each stop, take a few extra minutes to clean out the car, rearrange a few things, and let the kids run a bit. We try to stop at a rest area that has an area for running around. We have the kids run around the car a few times, up and down a trail, or do jumping jacks.
Taking a road trip with your children can be a lot of fun! We have some great conversations in the car, laugh together, and learn a lot about each other.