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Planning a Road Trip with Kids: Part One

Planning a Road Trip with Kids: Part One

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Road Tripping on the Horizon

Planning a road trip with kids is one of the biggest undertakings I have taken on in a while. It doesn’t sound so bad when you just say, “we’re going on a road trip!” But then you think about the tiny humans that you are taking with you, and suddenly, you question why in the world you thought 13+ hours trapped in the car with them was a good idea.

First off, remember that it is a good idea to take a road trip with your kids. The memories and experiences you will enjoy while on this trip (or at least while at your final destination) will last a lifetime. Hopefully, you will be able to make the actual driving part bearable, if not enjoyable with a little of extra pre-planning.

This is going to be a multi-part series of planning a road trip with kids, because there are so many parts to making a road trip successful. Today’s article is all about activities to keep the kids occupied on the road.

Road Trip Technology

Technology! I know we all *try* to limit screen time, but if there were ever a time to indulge in extra screen time, being trapped in the car with kids for any length of time is one of those times to indulge.

a. We are looking into getting a car DVD system. If you are lucky enough to own one, use it! If not, check out some on Amazon (so to avoid even more time in the car!)

b. Check your local library. I know our local library has a lending program. They have tablets or chomebooks that you can borrow from the library for 7 days. I have already checked into what to do if you trip lasts longer than that – just go online and renew! These devices come pre-loaded with games, videos, etc., and do not require an internet connection to use in the car. Just make sure you charge those bad boys up before hitting the road.

c. VTech Smartwatches are great! Same deal as the devices from the library — there are games and activities that the kids can play. Downside to this one is that there is not a headphone option, so you have to listen to the various sounds the watch makes, but at least it is a change from “Are we there yet?” Plus side: There is volume control, too.

Easy Road Trip Distractions

Hit up the Dollar Store. Our kid’s therapist told me about a trip she took with her young kids that was around 8 hours. Before she left, she took $20 to the Dollar Store and bought a bunch of junk that the kids could play with in the car. Then — and this is key — she wrapped all of the junk and every few hours she would throw one of the wrapped gifts into the backseat for her kids to unwrap and play with. How genius is that?! They get to unwrap something new, and with any luck it will keep them occupied for at least 10 minutes before heading back to that technology!

Quiet Time for the Road Trip

Quiet activities your kids like. My kids love to color. Like LOVE to color. So, on our last big trip I brought a basket of crayons, colored pencils, paper, and coloring books. They would take periodic breaks from whatever they were looking at to color or write us a book. Of course, they are bound to drop a crayon or something, and you will likely have to bend into an unnatural position to retrieve it, but it’s worth it for the peace it brings the kids.

Card Games and I Spy

My kids love card games. We also have a center console between their captains’ chairs that should allow for some simple card game play. I’m thinking Go Fish, War, Old Maid. They will be able to occupy themselves for brief periods with games they already love.

Yes, I’m also going to mention “I Spy.” This old stand by should be a last resort, or they will never let you stop playing it. NEVER. But, if you are desperate, it helps to entertain the littles for a while. They really do love it, but make sure to institute a rule that means they can’t pick a moving target, like a car, that was last seen three minutes ago on the other side of the road.

Snacks and More Snacks

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT forget to pack the snacks. Pack what they would normally eat, and then TRIPLE it! Also, pack a few drinks, but not too many or you will be making way too many stops for the bathroom. We like to bring pretzels, granola bars, Goldfish, Pirate’s Booty, and dry cereal because they aren’t too messy and aren’t too big of a choking hazard.

Stops Will Always Happen on a Road Trip

Lastly, plan for more stops that you would normally take if it was just you or you and another adult traveling. Kids need to get out and stretch their legs occasionally. It doesn’t hurt the adults to stretch too. We plan on stopping every 3 hours, give or take an hour. If we can push them a little longer then we will, but the point of the trip is to make it to the final destination in one piece and still liking your travel companions!

What Are Your Road Trip Thoughts?

What activities have you tried on long car rides with kids? Are there any snacks you or your kids must have on road trips? Share your thoughts, tips, and tricks with us over on Facebook or Twitter. You can also leave a comment below!

Stay tuned for the next part of road tripping with kids as we attempt to tackle packing — AHHHHH!!!!! Happy travels.

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