This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure
Road trips can be a load of fun, with adventure ahead and new destinations to take in along the way, but if you have ever been on a long road trip with kids, you may know these do not always go to plan.
Everything from whining from boredom and the constant ‘Are we there yet?’ and ‘How much longer?’, or the bickering in the backseat from being stuck with their siblings for hours on end!
Road trips with kids can be a disaster unless you plan ahead.
We have put together some of the best tips for road trips with kids to help save your sanity and enjoy the ride!
Tips For Long Road Trips With Kids
Road trips are one of our favourite types of travel to take with our kids. It wasn’t always that way but we have come to really love the flexibility of being able to stop whenever we like and enjoy the scenery and highlights along the way!
When it comes to planning a long car ride with kids, there are a few key things to keep in mind:
1. Start With A Plan
When you’re planning a long road trip with kids, it’s important to be as organised as possible. This means having a loose plan for each day of the trip and being prepared for anything that might come up.
Discuss the trip with your kids ahead of time. Talk about what they can expect along the way and at your destination. This will help them to be prepared for the journey.
Make sure you read our huge guide to planning a road trip before you go!
2. Road Trip Games & Activities For Kids
Boredom is one of the biggest enemies of a successful road trip with kids. Be sure to pack plenty of activities to keep them occupied. Games, books, colouring books, and handheld electronic devices are all great options
It can be a lot of fun for the family, adults included, to play some travel games along the way. This is good for bonding time, along with keeping the kids amused during the long drive.
Games such as I Spy, where you take in turns picking an item and give only the first letter for the rest of the family to guess.
Scavenger hunts are another great option. The scavenger hunt items you can either make up on the go or create a list before you leave and tick it off together.
When travelling with kids, it always helps to have a few of these you can play on-demand as well as solo activities they can do when they need some quiet time. Trust us, you will be thankful for it when they start to get antsy!
To save you time, we have created a mammoth road trip activity book with loads of games, puzzles, activities, scavenger hunts & journaling pages for kids. Best of all, there are activities and games the whole family can join in with too!
GRAB THE PRINTABLE ACTIVITY BOOK HERE
Depending on the age of your kids, they may enjoy some travel-friendly activities, such as colouring books, busy bags or having some favourite toys to play with. Sure it may get a little messy, but happy kids = happy parents.
Creating your own travel activity packs is a great option and this is something we also do when we fly as well as for long car trips.
You will find LOADS of car games, travel toys and road trip activities that will keep the kids occupied for most of your trip.
Another option, if you don’t want to make your own, is bringing along a kid’s travel subscription box. They are usually compact and perfect to take with you for travel.
Road Trip Tip: If you are bringing electronic devices, download a few favourite episodes or movies from your child’s favourite streaming service before you go so they have videos to watch without needing wifi.
3. Be Prepared With Road Trip Meals & Snacks
One of the benefits of travelling by car is that you can take food and drink with you, which comes in handy if you are on a budget or have specific dietary requirements
If you’re planning on eating out, research restaurants in advance and make sure they will cater to your needs. If you’re going to be picnicking along the way, prepare some easy snacks and meals that everyone will enjoy.
A road trip meal planner is a great way of preparing ahead with meals, snacks and stops so you have everything ready before you go.
PLAN YOUR ROAD TRIP MEALS AND SNACKS. GET THE FREEBIES!
As for snacks, kids have smaller stomachs so they get hungry more often. They also like to snack out of boredom sometimes too, so having an abundance of good food for a road trip with kids is essential.
Make sure to pack snacks that do not need refrigeration, unless you have a quality esky to keep them cool.
Road Trip Tip: Avoid high sugar snacks or you could end up with hyperactive kids who won’t cope well with being confined to a car or other vehicle for prolonged periods.
HERE ARE SOME ROAD TRIP SNACK IDEAS:
- Veggie sticks
- Cheese and crackers
- Dried fruit and nut mix
- Natural popcorn
If you are planning on car camping or cooking meals along the way, these camping meal ideas might be perfect for your road trip:
4. Make Comfort A Priority
Staying comfortable on a long car ride can be a challenge, especially for kids. consider packing pillows and blankets that kids can use in the backseat for naps along the way.
Travelling for long periods is exhausting, plus it may make them less irritable than trying to over-stimulate them with entertainment the whole way.
Comfortable clothing is another must! Wearing clothes that are soft and won’t irritate is essential, especially for kids. Dress them in layers that can easily be removed if they get too warm or added if they are cold.
Check out our full packing guide to road trip essentials
Road Trip Tip: Pack a pair of socks for each child no matter the season. Warm feet always add extra comfort.
5. Take Breaks Regularly
You might be tempted to drive as long as possible to get to your destination, but this isn’t always the best idea when you’re travelling with kids.
It’s important to take breaks every few hours so that everyone can move around, use the restroom, and eat a proper meal. If you’re feeling tired, it’s also a good idea to take a break or switch drivers.
6. Plan Your Stops
While taking breaks is essential, it can help to plan some of your bigger stops ahead of time. Try to find activities that the whole family can enjoy. Kids will love exploring new places and you may just find something really cool that you would have otherwise missed.
A short hike, visiting a park, or checking out a local attraction are all great options. Just make sure to do your research before you go so that you know what to expect.
If possible, try to plan your route so that you can stay in hotels or campgrounds that have amenities like pools or playgrounds. This will make your longer stops more exciting for the whole family.
7. Be Prepared For Emergencies
No one likes to think about emergencies, but it’s important to be prepared for anything when you are travelling with kids.
Pack a first-aid kit and make sure everyone knows where it is. If you have specific medical needs, be sure to pack any medication that you might need along the way.
It’s also a good idea to have a plan in case of a breakdown or other emergencies. Knowing who to call and how you will get help if something happens can give you peace of mind on your trip.
Make sure you have an emergency kit in the car with a flashlight, flares, jumper cables and other essentials.
Having roadside assistance and appropriate travel insurance cover will also give you extra confidence that you are covered during your road trip.
Travel Insurance: Make sure you don’t leave home without travel insurance. Trust us, it’s one of those things you don’t want to skip, especially when travelling with kids. Check out our travel insurance comparison guide.
8. Keep The Car Clean
This one is especially important if you’re travelling with young children. A clean car will make everyone more comfortable.
Have a plastic bag or a garbage bag that you can fill with trash along the way that you can throw away when you stop.
Wipes are also essential for keeping the car clean. Use them to wipe down surfaces, clean up spills, and keep everyone’s hands clean.
9. Be Flexible
No matter how much you plan, there is always a chance that things will not go according to plan when you’re on a road trip with kids
Be sure to leave some extra time in your schedule so that you don’t feel rushed. This will help everyone stay calm if things do not go as planned.
It’s also important to be flexible with your itinerary. If your kids are tired or there is something that they really want to see, be willing to change your plans.
10. Have Fun!
At the end of the day, the most important thing is to have fun! Road trips are a great way to explore new places and spend time together as a family.
Relax and enjoy the journey and not just the destination. Road trips are a great opportunity to spend time together as a family and create lasting memories.
More Road Trip Planning Tips:
- Beginners’ guide to road trip planning
- Road trip activities for kids
- Road trip songs for families
- Road trip food list and meal planning tips
- Family road trip packing list
- RV road trip packing list
- How to plan a family camping trip
Need some new ideas for your next family road trip? Here are a few:
What are your essential ways of surviving a road trip with kids?