If you've ever taken a road trip with kids you know that it's important to have plenty of things for them to do. You're asking for trouble if you're not prepared for bored kids! With these 10 simple tips, you'll save your sanity and keep your kids happy on those long road trips.
Road Trips with Kids
Visiting family often means road trips for us since my parents and siblings live about nine hours away. We've done this trip so often now that it's second nature to pack the car with plenty of things to keep all of us occupied on the road. The following simple tips are my favorite things for those long road trips with kids. Some require a little bit of extra preparation but it is well worth the effort.
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Keep a 'Car bag' for each child - packing is not my favorite thing to do, but for some reason, my daughter loves to pack for trips. So I use that enthusiasm and have her help decide what she wants to take in the car. Our only requirement is that it must fit in the bag she keeps with her in the car. I like to sneak in some fun new things like magazines or activity books along with a few sweet treats.
Use your screens and devices - most of us try to limit the amount of time our kids spend on screens, but road trips are the perfect time to let your kids splurge on a little extra screen time with their favorite games and devices. An extra tip - if your local video store offers video game rentals, rent a few extra games that your kids haven't played before and save them for the road trip.
Take along some new movies - while you're at the video store, look for some new movies to rent too (or rent them digitally through Amazon or other sites). My daughter likes to choose her favorite movies from home and, instead of taking along all those DVD cases, we put all the DVDs in one CD holder - which is much easier to pack in her car bag.
Check your library for audiobooks - our library has a fabulous online selection for digital audiobooks and we make good use of those, ordering quite a few and downloading them to an iPod so they are ready to go (and don't forget that auxiliary cable if you need one to hook your device to your car's audio system!). Another great option, if your library doesn't have a great selection, is Audible (try it with a 30-day free trial).
Pack some special surprises - for long road trips, make things a little extra special. Buy extra magazines, activity books, and small items, individually wrapping them in gift wrap with notes about where or when each package can be opened. Those little presents will give them something else to focus on besides that long drive in the car. An extra tip - grab a small LEGO building set to include as one of the special surprises if you're making the next item on this list!
Make a kids travel binder - one of my daughter's favorite things to take on the road is her travel binder. I keep it filled with fun activity pages and games that she can do whenever she wants. All the pages are in a page protector and there's a zippered pouch with dry-erase markers and a piece of felt to erase the pages. If you're looking for some fun printables - I have a great collection of road trip printables to make your own kid's road trip binder!
Map your route - print a map of your trip and mark out the route to include in their binder. When they start to ask 'are we there yet?' have them check their map to see how far they've traveled (and how far they have left to go).
Make a portable LEGO tin - using a metal lunch box and a LEGO building plate, you can make a portable LEGO tin, perfect for road trips. Keep all those small pieces confined to one box and use the lid to build their creations - what a smart idea (and perfect for road trips)!
Grab a few disposable cameras - let your kids document the trip in their own way - with pictures. Give each child a disposable camera and let them snap away at whatever strikes their fancy - road signs, clouds, trees, their feet... they'll have a great time taking pictures and a fun souvenir of their road trip adventure when the pictures are developed.
Don’t forget the snacks – pack each child a special container with their own treats so they can snack whenever they feel like it. Road trips are a great time to buy those special treats you don’t usually purchase. Here’s a great way to organize snacks – portable snack organizer.
Road Trip Tips?
Do you have any tips to share for saving your sanity (and your kids from boredom)? Leave me a comment and tell me your best tips for traveling with kids!