Surviving a long road trip with young kids is absolutely doable – believe it or not you can even make it enjoyable! I actually prefer to travel this way instead of a plane , as I can control my surroundings, I am not worried about impacting others and I am not bothered with delays or cancellations. At least if there is traffic, we can route around it or stop to take a break for a minute. Plus, I can pack all I want 🙂
If you could earn a status for your time spent on the road, I would like to think we would have made it to “elite” by now. We have driven from Tennessee to Washington DC, Texas, and Florida. These past two weeks alone we have logged in more than 31 hours in the car.
With all these road trips under our belt, I have perfected my sort of “go-to” list for packing to keeping the kids entertained in the car. Here are my top five must haves for any time I throw my kids in the car for longer than 2 hours:
- Amazon Kindle
- Perfect compact media device that each kids has their downloaded games and TV shows on. We have a mixture of learning games, drawing apps, and just plain fun ones that serve no purpose other than entertainment.
- I have a love/hate relationship with this thing, but mostly love. It is awesome as it is cheap, durable, easy to navigate and hold. I only wish it had a longer battery life as it seems to need a recharge every 90 minutes. However, I bring along a car charger and we have solved the problem.
- New Toy
- A must for any new road trip is a new toy. Kids get bored with something they have seen before a lot faster, so I whip out a new item and give it to them about 2 hours into the trip and it seems to keep them entertained for a decent stretch.
- My favorite road trip toys are:
- These are so fun as they stick to the window, glasses, and each other. You can make lots of shapes or just long pieces with them.
- Bop It
- Nice for a road trip as it isn’t too big and both my 5 year old and 2 year old love it.
- Magnetic Building Blocks
- These are awesome for building different shapes and designs with – both kids love! I put them in a plastic baggie and hand back to them when they are ready to create.
- A couple of favorite snacks are important, but I also pack one or two treat items for them to help make it through. My favorite ones are candy like M&M’s or Skittles, because I can hand them back to them in smaller amounts and it takes them longer to eat it than a single candy bar.
- I normally bust out the treats when we are getting somewhat restless or cranky to help lift the spirits again.
- Every road trip must have a movie. Lately, we have been on a Moana repeat – my kids can’t seem to get enough. I don’t do the movie on their kindle – I normally play it on our large iPad that we set up in between the two front seats. This way it breaks up time away from their Kindle, and it is something they both watch together. Of course, if you have a super cool car with a built in TV, you don’t even need to bring the iPad 🙂
- Backpack full of goodies
- To help maintain the mess that comes with a road trip, each kids get their own backpack of goodies and toys that they have picked out the day before.
- For my 5 year old, it is normally coloring pads and paper, princess dolls, shopkins, cards (we play card games in the car), reading books and learning books.
- For my 2 year old, it is color wonder markers and paper, music toys, a toothbrush (yes, it is random but he loves to play with one!), balls, tools, and random small toys.
My last piece of advice for any road trip is to get creative with your games/toys! For example, my son is obsessed with basketball. For this last trip, I took a small basketball net and attached it to my headrest with a rubber-band so he could shoot hoops. He LOVED it! I quickly learned retrieving the ball would be a challenge, so i tied a small blanket underneath the net to the carseat so the ball would roll back to him. #momwin
When we travel by car, we make the most of our time on the road and barely stop. If it is a 9 hour trip or so, we leave right when they wake up around 7am. We have breakfast in the car, which I packed the night before, making our only main stop lunch. This is where we find somewhere to eat, stretch our legs and regroup for about an hour. Whenever we stop for gas or potty breaks any other time, it is quick!
My favorite restaurant to stop at for lunch is Cracker Barrel. It has the store in the front which is great for the kids to walk around and play in while we wait for their food so they aren’t sitting down. They also have great toys and road trip games so we normally let them pick up another toy. My other favorite place to stop for lunch is a park. If I know what town we are going to stop in for lunch and the weather is nice, I will google it to try and find a park with a playground right off the interstate. I will then try to find a Subway/Panera/Fast food joint to pick up food to bring to the park. This is a great stop if you can make it work as it really lets them get their energy out!
If you are planning a road trip, I wish you luck and hope you have a successful and safe trip!