Children Traveling Tips: Road Trip

Ahh. Road trips. Some of my best memories were from road trips. My parents are huge road trip people. And they love to take the scenic routes while stopping at every historic landmarks. Nathan’s family road trips were completely different story. He had seven other siblings, meaning 10 people stuffed in one car. I had some general tips for traveling with children last week. Also see tips for flying domestically and flying internationally with children. Don’t forget about the tutorial for sewing a traveling placemat. This week I’m preparing you for road trips with children, here are some tips…

Entertainment for the road

Technology provides many sources of entertainment from portable DVD players to Nintendo’s DS Lites and even iPhones or iPods. Some technology things that has worked for us… downloading PBS shows from iTunes. If you have a portable DVD player with only one headphone jack, get a headphone splitter so multiple people can listen. And listen to audio books.

If you want your kids to be entertained beyond what technology can provide, you might try free print out travel games from Family Fun. Or check out the travel size board games such as Taboo, Bop It, Apples to Apples, Candyland, Trivial Pursuit and Sorry in the game section at Wal-Mart or Target. Lap desks are great for kids to get creative with drawing or coloring in the back seat. Stickers, coloring books and magnetic books.

Conversation starters

When we were first married, I noticed that Nathan didn’t talk much while he was driving. So when we went on long road trips together, I would bring a list of random questions or some may call them conversation starters. Questions such as, If you could have a super power, what would it be? There are also games and books with these conversation starter questions. Games such as Would You Rather…, Loaded Questions and Smart Mouth.

Where are you staying?

Does it have children friendly facilities? A pack ‘n play works well for baby and toddler sleeping arrangements while traveling. Sleeping bags are also easy to pack for older children. If you are in a hotel or motel, ask for a cot for the older kids. Some hotels have cribs you can use. Don’t forget your own pillows. Maybe it’s just the germaphobe in me, but I have a hard time sleep on someone else’s pillow. If your child has a special blanket, pillow, doll or lovey remember to pack that.

Make a car kit

Keep a container of easily accessible children necessities in the car. It can be in a large Tupperware, a plastic bin or a special car/trunk organizer. Then put baby wipes, sanitary wipes, extra diapers, a small first aid kit, packaged tissue paper, paper towels, toilet paper and a couple of plastic grocery bags for trash or the unfortunate car sicknesses. The paper towels and toilet paper comes in small travel sizes. You never know when you’ll have to clean up a spill or a public bathroom doesn’t have toilet paper.

I also travel with a large insulated tote to keep drinks cool and fruits fresh. Pack sandwiches and snack if you don’t want to stop for fast food.

Schedule it right

Plan around nap times or bed times. This works well for kids who sleep well in the car. Leave at a time when you know your kids will sleep. We have left for a road trip at 4 a.m. because Kaye goes back to sleep when she is in the car. Then when she awakes at 8 a.m., we had already traveled for four hours.

Kids eat free

Plan to stop at places where kids eat free. Or places with playgrounds. Let them get out and stretch a bit. Get all their wiggles out before getting back in the car. You can search for places where kids eat for free online.

» Tell me… What road trip advice could you give to moms? What has worked best for you?

3 Responses to “Children Traveling Tips: Road Trip”

  • Andrea

    We have 5 kids and tend to take a few road trips a year. I pack a plastic tablecloth and a cooler with lunch and we stop at rest stops for lunch. It is especially fun when we are in a different part of the country. It’s been fun seeing different trees and plants (and sometimes animals) that aren’t in Colorado. It also gives me more control over what we eat AND we save lots of money! This tip doesn’t work so well in the winter (obviously!)…but during the other months it’s so great to get out of the car, enjoy the fresh air, and let the kids run around. It beats sitting in a restaurant every time!

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  • Nicole Robinson

    Jonny has always liked me to read to him on road trips, but that is how I keep the “big kid” happy. From the time I was 4 I was the only kid at home, so mostly read to myself on long trips. Still no extra long road trips with my kids, so these tips will come in handy in the future. :)

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