Road trips can be extremely fun and road-tripping with your family can make for a wonderful family bonding experience. However, embarking on a cross-country or even cross-state road trip with your entire family—including your children—can also be extremely stressful and overwhelming. Kids get bored easily, and it can be very difficult to keep them entertained during long hours on the road—especially for days or even weeks in a row. It is also easy for children to get cranky on the road due to boredom and exhaustion from being stuck in the car and traveling for long periods of time, which can lead to some unfortunate accidents on the road in the worst cases. Nobody wants to see anyone get hurt, and you surely want to avoid having to search for a reputable collision center. If you’re planning on embarking on a road trip this summer with your family, keep reading to learn 5 road trip hacks when traveling with children to help the entire family have a great, adventurous road trip that everyone will remember fondly for years to come.
Preparing for your road trip before you actually leave the house can make all the difference in the quality of your road trip with your children.
Bring a varied selection of toys and stuffed animals to help keep your kids entertained on the road. Download kid-friendly movies and TV shows on your smartphone or tablet—preferably on a device that won’t be used for navigation on the road. Extra outfits and especially additional warm clothes like sweaters and jackets can be lifesavers. Blankets are great for comfortable nighttime driving as well.
Also, make sure you have plenty of healthy snacks—for sustenance and energy—and fun snacks—for rewards—on hand at all times so you don’t have to make a million stops on the road for food along your route.
Staying organized is key to maintaining your sanity while on a long road trip with your children. Cars are small, enclosed spaces, and it is amazing how dirty and cluttered your vehicle can get while you’re on a road trip—even without children. Make sure you
keep simple, easy-to-access cleaning supplies like to-go packs of Clorox wipes on hand at all times for wiping up inevitable spills and messes.
Shoe organizers clipped to the back of your front seats and plastic bins on the rear-seat floor are excellent for separating toys from stuffed animals from extra clothing, etc. while keeping them within reach. As for snacks—which you should keep plenty of on hand when road-tripping with children—bento boxes and large, reusable plastic bags make the perfect organizers.
Try Relevant Road Trip Games
Playing road-trip-related games can help entertain your children and make the long hours and long miles seemingly pass more quickly while on the road.
The license plate game is a traditional classic that works well for kids of all ages. There are several different ways to play this game, but the simplest way is to give each person in the car a point for each license plate they spot that originates from a different state. The person with the most points at the end of the day—or the end of the trip—wins.
Road trip bingo is another fun road trip game. There are apps that support this game, or you can find templates for it online. Basically, the way it works is that you get to cross off specific squares in road trip bingo by spotting things on the road such as certain street signs, animals, types of cars, etc. The rest of the game works just the same as a standard bingo game.
These relevant road trip games help keep your children alert, engaged, and entertained while on the road.
Get Creative With In-Car Activities
Beyond road-trip games, there are other in-car activities that can help keep your children entertained while on the road.
Coloring books and activity books are perfect for on-the-road entertainment. If you’re worried about your kids balancing crayons and markers and paper on their laps in a moving car, invest in lap desks for each of your children.
You can also allow your children to use washable window markers to draw pictures on the inside of the windows of your car while you’re on the road. Suggest that your kids
draw what they see as you drive by notable scenery along your route. All you have to do is wipe the window off to clean it and start again at the beginning of each day.
Children do not have nearly as much stamina while riding in a car as adults do. Planning to take breaks and stop at least every 200 miles or every three to four hours—even if it’s just to grab a bite to eat—can help make your road trip go more smoothly for everyone involved.
Taking such frequent breaks to cater to your children might seem irritating, and it will slow you down—but it’s definitely worth it to divide your trip into shorter segments in order to avoid the consequences of having exhausted, cranky, wound-up children in the backseat of your car for several hours.
Plus, scheduling breaks strategically can give you a chance to see more sights by stopping at landmarks, notable eateries, etc. along your route that you might not otherwise have found notable enough to warrant a pit stop.