Traveling with kids by car does not have to be daunting. We have been taking road trips together as a family since my oldest was a newborn!
With 3 kids in carseats or boosters, we decided a few years ago that until our kids were older we were going to be a road trip family. Limiting our vacations to drivable destinations! Our road trips as a family has consisted of an annual 7 hour trips up to Oregon, 8 hours to Disneyland, 9 hours to Las Vegas and so much more!
Im sharing my tips for traveling with kids by car for you and your family. I promise it is doable and can actually be dare I say it… enjoyable!
Plan out your stops. Keep in mind you will likely have to make an additional bathroom break or 2, but I recommend mapping out meals and bigger stops.
Is there a park half way? We often will pack our lunch and stop at a park, eat lunch and let the kids run around for 20 minutes before getting back on the road.
Snacks / Meals
Snacks and meals will be one of the most important jobs in prepping for a road trip! Not only will this save you time on your drive but it will also save you money.
I stock up on our favorite snacks including bars, jerky, dried fruit, popcorn and cheese sticks. I will also, precut fruit and veggies!
I will pre-make our meals and use these YumBox for them. These backpack coolers make packing your items easy. Don’t forget to pack everyone some water!
Pro Tip: Make sure you keep the food in hands reach! You don’t want to pull over every time someone needs a snack.
Bring a cozy blanket and stuffy or favorite toy (especially if staying somewhere overnight). Dress comfortably. If you won’t be arriving until after bedtime, have the kids change into their pajamas ahead of time.
When we plan road trips we plan on leaving early in the morning or after lunch. We have found they are more likely to fall back to sleep during those times and if we can get them to nap for an hour or two during a 9 hour drive that helps a lot!
Since my kids were infants we have always played music in the house and in the car. It may not make the time pass any faster, but I’ve found that, even temporarily, it’ll put the kids (and sometimes parents) in a better mood.
Kidz Bop has been a big hit, and I’ve found that I can somewhat tolerate it since their songs are usually ones that are familiar.
Audio Books & Podcasts
Audiobooks and podcasts are one of our favorites. We love the libby app. It pairs with your library card and lets you check out audio and ebooks for FREE! Another great idea is Audible for listening to books. There’s a wide variety of books suitable for children.
Podcasts are another great idea. Some of our favorites are Reading Bug Adventures, Circle Round, Warrior Kid Podcast, and Stories Podcast.
If you are ok with intermittent screen time then you may want to bring an iPad or a Kids Fire Tablet. However, this may cause more conflict than happiness if you only have one device and more than one child.
We have made several road trips without the use of screens! Believe me, it is totally doable!
For younger kids, I would try the No-Mess Coloring Books that only work with the clear marker that comes with them. Saves you from the mess of ink, yet it will entertain them for a chunk of time. (This one is a favorite of mine.)
There’s also this fun toy called a Boogie Board. It doesn’t take batteries, and it comes with “pens” that are actually plastic formed into different shapes that draw only on the board. When your child is done with their drawing they simply press a button on the side, the picture disappears and they can start over.
If your kids are old enough we bring along regular coloring books and colored pencils, crayons or markers in a pencil box. They are budget-friendly and you can stock up on these from the dollar store.
Pro Tip: Avoid packing crayons during the warm months as they will melt!
We have bought small toys including magnatiles and action figures on our road trips and they have been nice to have. They are also great if you are staying overnight the kids will have a few toys for the hotel or resort.
Make the most of it
Keep a smile on your face, laugh at the chaos and be silly. Sing and dance. Play “I Spy”. Point out the airplanes you see overhead, and the beautiful scenery you pass by.
Kacey received her bachelor's in Psychology while cheering for the University of Oregon. They moved to Reno in 2014 and have loved it ever since. She is a dedicated homeschooling mother to her three children.
She serves on the hospital board for Northern Nevada Health Systems and is passionate about her community.
Kacey loves exploring with her family and finding family-friendly events and activities! A few of her favorite things include family adventures, traveling, working out, coffee, and dessert!