Steps To Road Tripping With Kids

Whether you’re traveling with babies, toddlers, teens or young adults, these seven steps will help make your road-trip experience enjoyable for all!

By Adventurtunity Family
Explore Ambassador

Road tripping with kids is not usually at the top of anyone’s list of favorite ways to vacation. But multiple hours in the family car with the little crumb grenades in the backseat shouldn’t be a deterrent to taking a trip, vacation, weekend getaway or family visit. Once you get past the realization that not everything will always be 100 percent smooth sailing, you can start to plan a few steps ahead for what might occur throughout your travels. Whether you’re traveling with babies, toddlers, teens or young adults, these seven steps will help make your road-trip experience enjoyable for all!


Plan Ahead And Practice If Needed

Creating a travel plan is essential for keeping mishaps and meltdowns to a minimum. Your travel plan can include your route, how frequently you will stop for gas and bathroom breaks, as well as meals and overnight stays if necessary. It should also include an allotment of time to pack the vehicle and a firm time of departure. Be sure to share the plan with everyone traveling with you, too. Knowing the travel plan will help set expectations and create checkpoints to pass the time throughout the trip.

If you are traveling with young ones for the first time or for extremely long distances, start to introduce them to longer car rides or shorter weekend trips before embarking on your long haul. This will not only help them adjust to hours in the vehicle, but it will also help you work out some road-trip kinks.

When our son was younger, we found it was easier for us to travel five to eight hours visiting family later in the evening or extremely early in the morning. This way he would sleep most of the trip while it was dark outside. Of course, that meant very early mornings and late evenings for us, but overall, it worked out best, and we would sleep in or nap upon arriving at our destination.


Strategically Prepack Your Vehicle

While packing a vehicle seems simple enough, it can be quite cumbersome and stressful making sure you have everything while figuring out some incredible Tetris puzzle moves with your luggage. Not to mention how chaotic things can become when diapers, chargers and snacks end up packed deep in the back where no one can easily access them. Within your road-trip plan, highlight the items/bags you will want to have packed within arm’s reach while traveling. Typically, these would be items you plan to use throughout your trip, such as drinks, snacks and entertainment.


Food, Food And More Food

If there is one thing that you don’t want to forget to pack, it’s food and drinks. These are essential for surviving long road trips. While it may not be possible to please everyone, it’s a good idea to pack snacks that the majority of your family members like, and maybe something extra special for the driver. While your family’s favorite snack of choice might be cheese curls, you may want to refrain from packing items that are extra messy. Otherwise, be sure to have hand wipes at the ready. The same goes for drinks, too! If you pack drinks that could stain or cause a massive mess if spilled, use spill-proof cups or tumblers.

A few good road-tripping snacks we love are trail mix, cheese and crackers, apples, candy and popcorn. We always pack a cooler and leave it right in the middle of the backseat floor where everyone (except the driver) can access it during our travels.



The next most important thing you can plan for and pack, besides the food, is entertainment. Keeping your kids occupied and entertained will help the hours breeze by while also avoiding the repeated “Are we there yet?” questions. You probably have a good gauge on your kid’s attention span, but if you have young kids who attend daycare/preschool, ask their teachers how long your kids are entertained by a single task/game. This is extremely helpful to know when planning entertainment for young kids. If your children stay engaged with something for about 30 minutes, plan to introduce something new about every 20 minutes. Now, you most likely won’t need to engage them in something every 20 minutes, but you will be prepared if necessary. The goal is to have a variety of items available and switch things up for your kids before they even know they are over what they were previously doing. Ideas for keeping them entertained could be playing games, reading, coloring, playing with a toy, watching a show/movie or even eating.

If your children are a bit older, new music/game downloads, crafting and audiobooks are great ways to keep them entertained while on the road for hours. Be sure to pack all the charging cords and an external charging device if your vehicle doesn’t already have built-in chargers.

When our son was 2, we traveled to New Zealand and Australia. We had previously taken a few plane rides, but no amount of planning could have prepared him for the 14-hour flight. We did, however, create a fantastic plan to take the red-eye and introduce new toys to him along the way. The Dollar Tree was our best friend. We purchased a handful of small new toys and gift wrapped them, as even opening them took time. Additionally, we loaded movies and age-appropriate games to his tablet. To our surprise, we even came home with a few wrapped Dollar Tree surprises we didn’t need to use.



Mini board games and portable DVD players have been replaced with movies and games on our phones, tablets and computers. Many of us have become so accustomed to using our phones, computers, tablets and other devices so often, we sometimes forget we need to be connected to Wi-Fi or cellular signals to use them. When road tripping, specifically through rural areas, you might find your cell and Wi-Fi service to be spotty, if not totally absent in some areas. This, of course, can be a catalyst for major mood crushers if a movie shuts off right at the good spot, or when your child is about to make it to the 25th level right before their phone freezes, or the driver suddenly can’t access the directions. Plan ahead on the devices your family plans on using during the trip and download movies, shows, music and games ahead of time in case you run into areas without service.

It’s also a good idea to download your route, too, especially if you plan to follow directions. We know all too well what it’s like to accidentally back out of our directions app only to realize we have zero service and no way to get our directions back. Trust me, you’ll only need to learn that one the hard way once!



Pillows + Blankets

Many babies, toddlers and teens have one key thing in common: They like to nap! Sleeping or napping while road tripping is a great way to pass a few hours. However, one usually needs to be comfortable in order to sleep/nap well. Packing pillows and blankets will certainly come in handy for keeping your family members comfortable while traveling. Of course, bedroom pillows are great, but if you are limited on space, airplane pillows work just as well. Be sure to have individual pillows and blankets for each child. Even if your kids are extremely good at sharing, traveling for hours in a car can easily make anyone a little edgy. Save yourself from a blanket tug-of-war and pack extra!


Give Yourself Plenty Of Time

Time is just one of those things we will never be able to control, but we can do our best to manage it. When at all possible, give yourself plenty of time for your road trip. Knowing you have more time than you need will put your mind at ease and make the trip much more enjoyable for you and your family. There are so many unknowns, such as traffic, construction and accidents, that can delay even the best laid out travel plan. Your road trip will most likely encounter a hurdle or two along the way. But your success in overcoming those hurdles will be in your demeanor and the tone you use while figuring out solutions and putting your plans in action. Remember, our kids feed off our energy! Do your best to keep an upbeat mindset and enjoy the road trip, and hopefully they will, too!

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