After two long road trips of over 13 hours each way in the past year, I’ve learned a few tips to make it a success. I was very weary of such a long trip with kids (mine are 4.5 and 6 years old), but I’ve been pleasantly surprised every time. There are definitely rough moments, usually when it’s past their bedtime. On every trip they’ve fallen asleep for 60-90 minutes and at least one of them wakes up crying. Now we know to expect it will happen. Not every thing will go smoothly, but that’s traveling (with or without kids)!
Road Tripping with Kids – Packing Tips & Essentials
We bring one iPad pre-loaded with new Netflix episodes that they don’t normally watch at home. The iPad is reserved for travel so it’s a special item they look forward to. Lawson can get carsick so we have them switch watching the iPad every 20 minutes (about the length of a show). Honestly, the iPad is the highlight for them and they pass most of the drive watching it.
Based on a recommendation from Jen, I bought Lawson and Sybil each a personalized LL Bean bag (monogramed, size XL, regular handle). In each bag, I plan to put their activities, snacks, and “bedtime” items (pajamas, toothbrush, stuffy, and blanket). Their snacks and bedtime items are stored in packing cubes because they make everything easier to find when you’re short on time or patience. On our road trips last year I had a million different bags and am hoping this approach streamlines our travel a bit.
Road Tripping with Kids – Activities
Most of these activities I’ve found while browsing our local toy store. They have a ton of great ideas and it’s much easier to find in a smaller, local toy store than Amazon or Target. I’ve included links to Amazon for ease, although I encourage you to check out your local toy store!
A Tiger Tribe magic coloring set which is perfect for travel
Table Topics for kids
Small LEGO set– Lawson especially loves to put together small LEGO sets on our road trips
Travel BINGO – This is good for at least an hour of our road trip. It once took hours for Lawson to find a smokestack. Now whenever he sees one, he excitedly announces he’s seen one.
100 things for little children to do on a trip is full of wipe off activity cards that we’ve used over and over
Floss & Rock Magnetic Fun & Games – Lawson and Sybil got these game sets for Christmas. They are small with a few different activities included.
Mini Scratch and Scribble – These do make a bit of a mess so skip if that’s going to bother you.
A Brain Quest deck specific to their age – I get carsick so can’t read these to the kiddos, but otherwise they are great for traveling (small and one deck can take a good 30+ minutes)
Plus Plus Mini Puzzle Blocks – I bought these on our last trip to the toy store and have them tucked away for next Christmas.
Activity trays – these trays are a little big to sit on Sybil’s lap but they do the trick for providing a hard surface and keeping activities together while in the car.
Road Tripping with Kids – Food
On travel days, I try to pack snacks that the kids love, but don’t get to have that often at home. They each get an applesauce packet, Pirate’s Booty (messy, but their favorite), fruit snacks, and bars. Jim and I usually have gummy bears, licorice, and M&Ms to dole out throughout the day.
We bring lunch and dinner from home. I pack them in our PlanetBox lunch and snack boxes (Rover + Shuttle for Lawson and Sybil, Launch for Jim and me). Our first road trip, we only packed lunch and grabbed fast food for dinner. I quickly realized we’d all feel better if we skipped the fast food. Plus having healthy, familiar food options makes them more likely to actually eat throughout the day. We have enough “treats” as snacks during the drive!