10 things to know about road tripping with kids

Parents with child in car
Parents with child in car

10 things to know about road tripping with kids

by Tamala Malerk
Stripes Japan

School is letting out soon and if you are planning a summer-time road trip with kids, we’ve got some tips that may make the ride smoother.


Start Small: If all your kids are used to is a neighborhood trip to the store, try branching out on two to three-hour trips and then maybe an overnight trip before venturing out on a long-distance trip.

Give the Kids Tasks: Before you go, give each kid an age-appropriate checklist to get them more involved with the whole experience. For example, put one kid in charge of making sure everyone has underwear. (Also, double-check everyone’s checklist before final takeoff).

Snacks: Pack finger-friendly snacks that are a mix of healthy items and treats. Have the kids help you pick out what snacks you pack so they feel more in control. Make a “road trip” trail mix with the kids that is a blend of healthy and sweet that will make even the pickiest eaters smile.

Travel at Night: If you’ve got really small children, traveling after bedtime can help kids sleep along the way. Eat a nice hearty dinner and pack their favorite movie to watch before they fall asleep.

Change up the Entertainment: Movies and shows can get old quickly for short attention spans. Bring along travel-friendly games and activities such as crossword puzzles or word searches.. Have the kids pick out books from the library before you go.

Road Trip Bingo: Find or create some road trip Bingo cards of things and places everyone might see on the drive (i.e., dog in another vehicle, a McDonalds, etc.). Also, teach kids the license plate game (the international version is fun over here in Europe).

Hope for the Best; Prepare for the Worst: Pack plenty of sanitation wipes, rubber gloves, hand sanitizer, sickness bags and towels.. Older kids (and adults unfamiliar with where the nearest rest stop is) might appreciate a portable potty kit like the one from GoGirl or even a small portable toilet.

Plan your Stops: Is the world’s largest twine ball five minutes off your route? Why not stop, stretch your legs, eat a sandwich and take a pic for the Gram (or Gramma)? Educate kids about the places you’ll stop along the way to ramp up the excitement.

Vary up the Accommodations: Stay at a cabin in a campground one night and maybe the next night stay at a hotel with a pool. Make the overnight just as exciting (if not more) than daytime travel stops.

Create a Reward System: Did the kids go three hours without fighting? Reward them with a pre-planned toy, a small activity of their choice or maybe a candy or popcorn snack to go with their next movie.

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