tips on taking road trips with kids

Most families will agree with me that once you have kids, sometimes it’s easier just to drive to your destination than going through the whole flying process. With kids, it’s not just getting to the airport super early, its the extra time in security lines, packing the car seats, getting a rental, installing the car seats then finally getting to your destination. You don’t even need to think about using your own car seat for a road trip anymore. Why not decide to look into getting a child car seat rental for your children, so not only can you guarantee their safety at all times, but you can also give the car seat back at the end of your trip. It’s a win-win! And it also means less stress for you. Oh yeah and you can’t forget about now even having to pay for lap children on the plane! If the drive is doable, why not just jump in the car.

Tips for Road Trips with Kids

I’m not saying road trips are super easy either because having to have your kid sit in the car for like 6 hours and entertain themselves require you (as the non driver) to figure out what in the world they can do to keep calm. I don’t know how many times I end up sitting between my two huge Britax carseats singing Old McDonald to one kid and helping another with their crayons. We have taken many road trips that are about 6 hours long and can happily say I don’t dread them anymore! I have found many tricks and tips that have helped the process go so much smoother! Check them out:

Planning

  • Try to plan around their nap times if they still nap. The more hours of sleep you get in, the less time for you to have to entertain them. Get your travel system out if your children are young, this will make the journey much more comfortable for them.
  • Figure out the traffic situation. If you know traffic is going to be crazy at a certain time, plan around it.
  • If you need to make stops, reduce them. Once you take them out of that cars seat, it’s tough to get them back in. If we need to stop, we try to plan it during a meal like lunch or dinner so they will fully eat and we jump right back on the road.
  • No matter how old the child is, make them go potty before you leave to reduce the number of potty trips.
  • Don’t leave the packing until the morning. I have all the bags ready to go downstairs so all we have to do is pack the car. I have found that if I leave the packing until the morning, I get stressed and forget things.
  • Make a morning packing list: There are things you can’t pack until the morning or things you need out of the refrigerator. Write it down the night before. My lists usually have cold snacks, cooler, baby monitor, electronic devices and toiletries you use in the morning.
  • Fully charge all your electronic devices.

Mental notes parents

  • The last 30 minutes of the trip is always the hardest because they are so ready to get out of the car. Don’t get stressed because you are almost there! Just try to keep calm because they feel your frustrations.
  • Your car is going to get messy and you can’t get around it. We just bought a used car so I don’t mind my car getting messy! If you’re in the market for a used car there are plenty of options you can choose from. We recently bought some new car accessories for our car, in an attempt to keep it clean! You can find plenty of WeatherTech coupons to save you some money if you’d like a new car mat. They make the car so much easier to clean and I really recommend them!
    This was hard for me to accept with my Type A personality but you know what, it’s something you can clean up very quickly. Let it be!
  • Wait on the activities: Something I learned very quickly, don’t try to start activities for the kids as soon as you start driving. If they are just chilling in their seats, let them be. The minute you start them, they will want attention the whole time. Just wait until you absolutely need to and don’t give them everything at once.

Activities

  • Music: Bring CD’s you know they love and you can sing along to. Make it a game in the car for the family to play.
  • Travel Desks: Purchase a travel desk for the older kids so they can color and draw or even do stamps. Here are some of my favorites:
  • Crayons: Try to get a set just for the car that’s not too big and easy to put back after they are done.
  • Goody Bags: How exciteddo kids get when they get a goody bag at a birthday party? Well make one for the car and when they are really hitting their “getmw out of this car seat now or I will screamthe whole way” moment, bust it out! Fill it with some non-messy fun treats that will keep their minds busy. Here are some ideas:
  • Wish List Project: Bring a bunch of toy magazines and let them tear out the things that they want. I wouldn’t recommend letting them use scissors in the car just for safety reasons. Once they get their items, let them glue it on a piece of paper and it can be their Christmas List!
  • Map your journey: Print up a colored map and laminate it for your child. On the map make major landmarks that they can circle along the way with a dry erase marker so they know how far they are from their destination.
  • Spot it: This game is great for older kids.
  • Pipe cleaners: Kids can get so creative with these and they are mess free!
  • iPad or DVD Player: I am not against this at all. It’s not the first thing I take out for my kids but towards the end of the trip when they really can’t handle it anymore, put on a show or movie for them to watch. Also pack the chargers.
  • Headphones

Travel Friendly Snacks

  • Keep a small cooler just for snacks in the back seat. You want it easy to open and accessible so you are not putting yourself in danger by having to get out of the passenger seat.
    • Fruit: Don’t pack fruit that will get mushy or be super watery. Instead pack grapes, strawberries, blueberries, apple slices or bananas.
    • String Cheese
    • Crackers
    • Goldfish
    • Pouched Yogurt
    • Boxes of Raisins
    • Dried Cranberries
    • Chex Mix
    • Trail Mix
    • Carrots
    • Granola Bites
  • Serve the snacks in small dixie cups so you can throw them away and the kids won’t spill them.
  • If you are driving during a meal time and you think you can feed your kids in the car go for it! We pack sandwiches for the whole family on our road trips so we don’t have to stop for lunch. Each person gets their own brown bag lunch. Saves time and money!
  • Pack a water spill proof bottle for each person in the family. I recently bought these and love them! Contigo Water Bottles

Necessities to keep in the car (depending on your child’s age)

  • Emergency bags: Water bottle, 1 pair of clothes, 1 pair of pajamas, 2 packaged snacks, 1 think blanket each, picture of your child with the parents name on the back, diapers if your kids are young, jackets
  • Family Emergency Kit
  • Grocery Bags: You will need these for garbage, in case your kid throws up or just to store the goody bag items in later.
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Baby Wipes: These will be your best friend on the trip
  • Sanitizer Wipes: To clean up any spills, especially milk or juice spills that are sticky
  • Small towels to clean up any major mess
  • Kids Travel Pal Organizer: This thing won’t make your car look like a playroom by the end of the trip. Teach your kids to take one thing out at a time and put it back where they got it from before they get something else.
  • All purpose blanket: This thing is awesome! If you need to make a stop for the kids to play outside or even when you reach your destination, always keep this in your car. You never know when you need a blanket to sit on outside.
  • Travel Pillow and Travel Blankets
  • Extra Napkins and Tissues
  • Disposable Potty Covers
  • Piddle Pad
  • Seat Pals for Boosters
  • Flash light: For the older ones if they want to read or find something in the dark. Make sure you teach them it is not a toy because it can disturb driving.

Hope this helps my travelling mommas!

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