Taking children on a long car trip can sound like a daunting experience. Visions of children complaining of boredom, asking if you’re there yet, and begging for drive thru fast food are what immediately come to mind for many. The best way to make a car trips with kids enjoyable for the whole family is to plan ahead and be prepared.

Plan Ahead

Knowing your route in advance can be very helpful. Plan out your stops so that your children know what to expect. However, don’t get frustrated if unexpected bathroom breaks change up the plan. You may want to bring a potty seat, wet wipes, and hand sanitizer to be sure that you have everything needed when the kids need the to use the bathroom.

Pack A Surprise On Trips With Kids

How you prepare depends a lot on the ages and interests of your children. Allow your child to pick out and pack a few items that they would like to have in the car. This can help children feel in control of their time and overall experience. It also helps to have one or two surprises up your sleeve for those moments when a new and exciting distraction is needed!

Know Your Child

Some children can sit and be engaged in a video game, book, or activity for quite a long time. Others need more interaction and change. To make the trip successful, it will be important to set appropriate expectations for your child. If they need more frequent stops to get out and stretch their legs, plan ahead and know that your trip will take a bit longer. Having realistic expectations will help keep everyone from unnecessary frustration along the way.

Pack Snacks For Trips With Kids

The best snacks are ones that are easy for children to eat and fill them up without added sugar. Granola bars, apples, veggie stix, applesauce pouches, bananas, and peanut butter crackers are all examples of foods that don’t have to be kept cold and are easy for children to eat. Additionally, you can pack an insulated cooler bag with items like cheese sticks, prepared sandwiches, and other perishable items. Don’t forget to always pack lots of water!

Have Fun!

Road trips with kids are a great time to break out all of your old car games! Here are fun games that children of varying ages can enjoy.

  • Eye spy: “I spy something ________.” For younger kids make sure it’s not something need to see quickly as you’re passing. Instead think of something like a tree or sign that you will see multiple times along the route.
  • Car rainbow: Look for things in the color of the rainbow, going in order of the acronym, ROYGBIV.
  • The license plate game: Try to spot a license plate from each state. Print out this brochure to help keep track of which license plates you see.
  • “A” My Name Is: In this game you take turns using a letter of the alphabet to fill in the blanks. “My name is _______. My friend’s name is _______. We live in _______ and we sell _______.” For example, you start with the letter A. “My name is Alex. My friend’s name is Alice. We live in Alabama and we sell Apples.”
  • Check out these great car game books for more ideas!

A road trip with your children doesn’t have to be a tedious event. Make it a fun experience that you and your children can look back on and remember fondly!

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About The Author

Sarah PSarah Proctor has worked with young children for over 25 years as a teacher, childcare director, nanny, and mom of two girls. She has her Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education and Administration from UMass Amherst. In addition, Sarah has her Director 2 certification from the Department of Early Education and Care.