Long drives can be hard, especially for kids. When boredom sets in on your next family road trip, you’ll be glad to have some tips and tricks up your sleeve.
Tips for preparation
- First and foremost, whenever you drive with kids, safety is the #1 concern. Before any trip (or really any drive, even around town) make sure your children are riding in the correct car seat or booster for their age and size and make sure you are using it properly.
- Plan your route well. Be sure to check for road construction and delays, if you can avoid being stuck in traffic though a construction zone by picking a different route, do it!
- Add extra time for stops, and try not to make each day’s leg too long. You will need to stop frequently for potty and stretching breaks, so be sure to plan in extra time to get to your destination. And young children aren’t likely to tolerate being in the car for hours and hours or days on end, so if you have a very long distance to drive, it’s a good idea to break it up over more days than you would if it were just adults driving.
- Pack lots of activities and snacks, you’ll need them! (More on this below.)
Keeping the kids busy
There are plenty of ideas floating around the web for ways to keep a kiddo busy on a road trip. Here are some great ones.
- Books – reading never goes out of style! Books on tape are also a great idea in the car, especially for kids who might get car seat reading from an actual book.
- Electronics like tablets or portable DVD players. This works especially well if you give the kids a new show or movie to watch or a new game to play. The novelty will keep them busier longer than something they’ve seen or done before.
- Coloring books – for coloring in the car, it’s best to use colored pencils. Crayons can melt in a hot car and markers can leave permanent stains on car seats, pencils are a safer bet.
- New, inexpensive toys. Go to the dollar store and pick out a bunch of new small toys, wrap each one up and each time you get back in the car after a break, give your child one to open up and play with.
- Make a map of your trip. Have your kiddo follow along on the map and mark off the cities or landmarks you pass along the way.
Eating in the car
You’ll want to be sure to pack lots of healthy snacks. If your drive will only last one day, it’s pretty easy to bring good, fresh, healthy food with you in a small cooler. It’s also a good idea to let each child keep a small stash of snacks close to them so that you don’t have to stop to give them a snack every time they’re hungry. Be sure to include some protein and keep the sugar content fairly low. While it might be tempting to stock up on junk food, your little cherubs are much more likely to behave well if their blood sugar is spiking and crashing repeatedly.
It’s also a good idea to stop and get out of the car for meals at about the same time of day you normally eat meals. The timing will help keep some consistency in your schedule, and it will help to anchor your trip around some predictable, regular stops.
With a little bit of prep work, some creativity and lots of snacks, you’ll be enjoying a road trip with your kids in no time. Have you taken a road trip with your kids before? What’s your best tip for making it successful?