Sharing my top 8 tips for a successful road trip with young kids.
We returned last week from our longest ski trip to date. 10 days, 3 mountains and over 15 hours in the car. That can make for some long days, especially when you’re traveling with a preschooler. But really she was so good! Of course we had our moments, but overall this trip was much better than our 7 day trip we went on a few weeks prior.
I knew spending that much time in the car would be hard for our 4 year old. We’ve been on some long trips, but 3 days of over 5 hours in the car each is even hard for the most well behaved little one.
Here’s how we made this a successful road trip.
Be prepare for something to go wrong.
We were much more prepared for this trip than our last one, but didn’t expect to be diverted to a different airport 2 1/2 hours away from our first destination. I’d never been diverted before and when we got in late and they said they would bus us to the airport we were supposed to land in, I thought, “okay, we can handle this.” But it was already late at this point, Little A was starting to get tired and I knew the bus trip would take an hour longer than us driving ourselves. So we switched our rental car reservation to the airport we landed at and got on our merry way.
Things happen. Like your kid puking all over your $70,000 rental car. Yes, it just happens. Something is bound to go wrong at some point on your trip, just remember that it’s not the end of the world and most kids are pretty flexible when it comes to small mishaps.
Pack plenty of activities.
You will be spending a decent amount of time in the car, possibly more than your child has before. Make sure you have a variety of activities for them to occupy their time so you aren’t constantly hearing, “Are we there yet?”
We like to have coloring books and crayons, math and spelling activities, a Leap Pad and movies. If all those fail I help her set up a scene for her toys and that keeps her little imagination busy for a while.
Dress your child comfortably.
There’s nothing worse than a toddler whining about their clothes from the back seat when there’s nothing you can do about it. Lately Little A has been hating clothes she thinks are too tight, or leggings that don’t come up high enough on her waist. If your child is going to be sitting in their car seat or booster for more than a trip to the store, make sure they are comfortable.
You don’t know if there’s going to be a place to stop for food when your little one starts
whining saying they’re hungry. I always pack enough granola bars, individual goldfish packs and apples to last us 3-5 days. If you need more you can always stop at a grocery store at some point to stock up.
Have plenty of water.
Being in the car for hours a day can be not only tiring, but drying as well, especially in the colder months when the heater is constantly running in the car. Make sure you have enough water to keep your little one hydrated (as well as yourself).
Pack the essentials.
Even though our daughter isn’t in diapers anymore, we still carry wipes with us on long trips. They are great for cleaning up everything from sticky hands to vomit (yes, the vomit in our $70k rental car…the wipes were great). Pack a few plastic grocery bags, gallon-size Ziplocs and some hand sanitizer.
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Kids have a lot of energy that needs to get used during the day. Stopping often will give them some time to run around and burn that energy off, making them more content while they are in the car. Plus it gives you some time to get out and stretch your legs. We try to stop every few hours for the restroom, a quick snack or just to run around.
Enjoy the time together.
It can be hard for little ones to be in the car for an extended period of time, but making the best out of it will keep everyone happy. Play car games, identify animals, sing songs. It’s a great time to talk to your child and do some family bonding.
We love going on road trips, and can’t wait to take baby #2 on a few. But being prepared is key to keeping us all happy, and sane. Keep these tips in mind when packing for your next epic family road trip.
What are your tips for a successful road trip with little ones?