Family Road Trips: Tips for Traveling With Kids


With the weather finally getting nicer for most of the country, I think it would be safe to say, many of us are sick of being inside. We want to get out and explore. Many kids will be going on summer break soon and it may be that perfect time to plan that road trip.

While the destination may be fun and interesting and you may be looking forward to it, the drive down might not be. Anyone who has ever driven with a child for any real length of time can understand the how draining that can be.

But it doesn’t have to be. Before you set out on that next family road trip take a look at these tips.

If possible try to schedule the bulk of the driving time at night.DSC00469

I know this sounds like it could be a little dangerous. But it doesn’t have to be. Last year we took our family on a vacation down to Tennessee, (we live in Illinois). We also have five kids. While I was finishing up packing, loading the van and getting the rest of the house in order for us to leave, my husband was napping.

Since my husband was nice and refreshed after a good nap, he was wide awake for the drive. Based on how long it was supposed to take we decided to leave around 10pm. We got the kids ready in their pjs, and kept them awake until we loaded up to go. Even with all their excitement the last one fell asleep by 11pm.

I know, I know, the drive can be part of the fun with sightseeing and everything. But we knew the route down through Illinois and Indiana wouldn’t have our kids attention out the window. It’s all stuff they’re used to seeing. But by the time the kids woke up in the morning, they had mountains and hills to see. At points it seemed we were in the sky, with clouds right out our windows. We stopped for breakfast and a bathroom break. An hour later we arrived at our cabin.

So let them grab a favorite blanket, and pick up a few travel pillows and possibly a stuffed sleeping buddy and they’ll be set.

DSC00675 (2)Choose a route with fun stops.

It will make the drive down take longer, but it will be so much more fun. If you have the option, search your route options to see what, if any, types of small activities or sightseeing attractions may be on your way, or even a little out of the way.

Sitting in the car for hours can be hard even for adults. It’s nice to get out and stretch every once and awhile. It’s a lot easier for everyone if they all know the next stop isn’t too far away. This is really great for really long road trips. Even attractions that really don’t sound interesting can be after a few hours in the car. That biggest ball of yarn, or giant pumpkin will be a welcome sight.

Not every route will have things like these easy to find before you leave. You may have to pay attention to the signs along the way. Maybe there is apple or cherry picking ahead at a near-by farm, or a road side waterfall. But even stopping at a rest stop and letting everyone out to run off steam for a while could be great too. You could even pack a lunch and have a picnic.

Snacks and drinks

While nobody can avoid the, I have to go to the bathroom, unintended stops, listening to kids complain they are hungry or thirsty can be. This one is really easy to do. Grab a cooler and load it up with travel friendly drink bottles and little containers or baggies of snacks. Another good option is small candies or gum that will help that boredom hunger. Gum is also a great option if you will be traveling through any mountains or really hilly areas, it will help with any ear-popping from the elevation changes.

If your kids aren’t quite passed that toss the unwanted gum right on the floor or seat next to them yet stage, gummy bears or other chewy snacks can work just as good.


If you search road trip activities for kids online, you will find a multitude of ideas. Some sites offer things you can print off others just verbal games, but either way you will find something that will entertain them. There are even road trip survival kits for travelling with kids.

We have done the license plate game, where we see how many different state plates we can find on the way. I-Spy is another good one. This one has kept mine entertained for hours. I have seen print outs that both list and give a picture of various things they might see on the road. Mine preferred to play the old-fashion way of one spying and the others trying to guess it. The older ones also had fun looking for odd or funny signs and bumper stickers.

Coloring books and tablets can also be good options. The only real problems with coloring is when they manage to drop that crayon that just have to use right now, or they decide the car is going to be the new canvas. It’s easy to download movies or age appropriate games to a tablet for them to watch or play on the way.

There are also pretty affordable options for in vehicle DVD and TV units. Back when we only had three kids, we took a trip to Georgia and we did just that. We picked up a set of two TV units that strapped to the headrests of the row in front of them that ran off of one DVD unit. It also had the option to use the car’s stereo for sound or the kids could use headphones.

Regardless of where you are going and where you are coming from, family road trips are fun, a great way to reconnect and  just spend time together, but they can also be stressful and hard. The next time you plan a trip you might want to try a few of these tips. Do you have any tips you have used in the past that worked? If so let us know in the comments.


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