Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Surviving a Road Trip with Kids

Jen and I love to travel (both with and without our kids) and we've learned a thing or two along the road about what works and what doesn't.  For all of my adult life, my parents have lived in a different state so visiting them with the kids always means about a 7 hour road trip.  We just got back from visiting them over the weekend to celebrate Christmas so I was just reminded about all of the things I pack for a road trip with kids.  For me, surviving those road trips all starts with planning ahead and being prepared.  When packing and getting things ready for the car I always make sure I have the following:
  • iPads/iPods - Neither of our cars have DVD players because we decided to forgo those and purchase a couple of iPads instead so that they could be used not only for the car, but also on planes, in airports, or really anywhere that requires the kids to sit and be still.  A few days before we travel I start updating the iPads and the girls' iPods.  I add a few new apps, switch out the movies to current ones they love watching, and make sure they are fully charged.  In today's day and age, most kids learn to work a touch screen device very early on with age appropriate apps.  However, even before they are able to work an iPad, I used THESE CASES, that strap around the headrest, to hold the iPad so they could still watch Baby Einstein or Baby Signing Time movies.  
  • Chargers  - It should go without saying, but double and triple check that you have the chargers for all of those electronic devices.  I once made the mistake of forgetting a charger on a trip and I was stuck in my car during Atlanta's big snow storm last year without a car charger for my phone so now I'm hyper aware of chargers now. I always make sure I have at least one type of charger for all of our devices and when applicable, I also make sure I have the car chargers.  If the movie is what is going to keep the kid happy, the last thing you want is for the battery to die in the middle of the movie!   
  •  Headphones - Kid sized headphones are a must in the car when you have multiple music, games and movies being played in the backseat.  I can't stand everyone arguing because they can't hear and my husband turning up the music louder and louder to drown them all out.  I quickly learned and solved that problem by getting kid sized headphones for each of the kids.  

  •  Activity Books - I usually try to pick up a few new activity books for the kids before a road trip.  I make sure it is something that will grab their attention and be different than what they have seen before.  Anything with invisible ink or dry erase markers are always a hit for my kids. Also, color by number or sticker books and workbooks help to keep them entertained.   
  •  Writing Tools - My kids love to doodle and write little notes.  Having fun colored pens are usually less mess than markers and cute notebooks and pads of paper can keep them busy.  I also love Boogie Board LCD writing tablets and have one for each of my kids.  They can draw, write and play games and then erase with the push of a button to start again!  


  • Plastic Grocery Bags - I have finally gotten smart about this.  My kids are always handing me trash from snacks, papers they have written, old stickers, etc.  I used to try to stick and stash it anywhere I could find during our trips, but now I always have a plastic grocery bag handy in my car (even when we aren't on road trips) so that I have somewhere to put their trash.   
  •  Wipes or Wet Ones - My kids are all potty trained, but I still carry wipes with me in my bag and keep them in my car to wipe sticking hands or spills that might occur.  
  • Sandwich Baggies -  I always, always, always try to remember to bring a handful of sandwich baggies.  When the crayon box rips open, when the kids don't finish their snack, or when I need to divvy up a snack, it's always handy to have a little baggie.  
  • Easy and Mess-Free Snacks - Kids like to snack and for my kids, snacking in the car is always a must.  It helps them stay happy and satisfied.  I can remember teaching them all very early on how to use a Snack-Trap because even a 6 month old was a better car rider when they could eat some Puffs!  Now that they are older, I always go for snacks that will hopefully not make too much of a mess in the car.  Popcorn, Goldfish, Cheez-Its, Veggie Straws, fruit snacks, vanilla wafers, etc.  Nothing sticking, nothing liquid, and definitely nothing with the potential to spill!   
  •  Lollipops and Small Candies - For us, all rules go out the window when we are on a road trip.  I always bring a bag of Dum-Dum lollipops and other small candies like Smarties or Sour Patch Kids.  I try to avoid chocolate because it can obviously melt and make a mess.  If all else fails and someone is melting down or just can't stop asking how much longer, give them a lollipop and I guarantee it will make them happy.  


I'd love to hear if any of you have other tips or tricks you use with kids on road trips.  We have several other trips coming up and I'm always looking for new ideas, so please leave us a comment to share.  :-)  Happy Travels!

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2 comments:

  1. We just drove 36 hours in less than a week and my favorite new trick was going to the $1 store and buying each child a cookie sheet. It made for a perfect tray for when they needed to eat in the car AND worked as a hard surface for writing and coloring (lip of tray made it so crayons wouldn't fall). My only regret is not putting something on the bottom of the trays so they wouldn't slide off their laps if we had to make a sudden stop/turn. I also picked up a few suction cup plastic containers for the windows and Hendley used them to set up "an office". She stored crayons and other utensils there and loved it!

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    1. Julie- I LOVE those ideas and especially love the suction cup plastic container idea since Handley ALWAYS drops her pens/pencils/markers. We're heading to FL in a few weeks and I'm thinking a trip to the dollar store is a must now.

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