Traveling with kids gives trip planning a whole new meaning. It becomes all about keeping your kids entertained, making sure you have enough snacks, and determining the best time of day to travel.
Entertaining kids on a road trip is the key to a successful trip. Here are the tips I learned from experience.
- TV/DVD — Bring along a newly-released movie or one your kids have not yet seen (or for a while).
- iPad or tablet –These are handy so that each child can zero in on his or her own entertainment. Consider loading apps they haven’t used before.
- Stickers — Young kids love to peel them and stick them. Just be careful they can’t reach places where you don’t want stickers stuck.
- Books — Check out new books from the library or bring their favorites. We bring lots of colorful picture books for the non-readers.
- Busy Bags — This is a great way to keep kids entertained with a variety of options. Add cotton balls, velcro, pipe cleaners, wipe-off boards, felt and other crafty items and allow their imaginations to run wild. To see an examples of various busy bags, click here.
- Play old school car games, such as:
- Alphabet game — Find something that starts with every letter of the alphabet (B for barn, D for deer). For an added challenge, look for words that start with that letter on billboards and road signs.
- License plate game — Find license plates from every state
- Colors game — Call out a color and everyone has to find something that is that color
If your kids are like my kids, they are ALWAYS hungry. Having snacks on hand is a good way to keep kids content. My go to snacks are:
- Suckers — The bigger the lollipop the better.
- Fruit — Easy for little hands to hold and for me to prepare.
- Snack cups — Oreo’s, Chips Ahoy, Nutter Butter, need I say more.
- Popsicles — But, be prepared for bathroom breaks!
- I also try to keep one of each of their favorite snacks hidden away for when everyone is getting really antsy.
Rather than stopping for lunch or dinner, we do keep driving while our kids are eating their meals. This is just another way to keep them occupied while traveling.
The best time to travel with kids is when they are sleeping. If we know we have a long stretch ahead, we always figure on getting a large chunk of travel time in during the night. Our next best time to travel is the time when our kids are normally just hanging out. For us, it’s the first thing in the morning. When our kids wake up they like to snuggle, watch television, play on their iPads and just relax.
The afternoon is normally when they get a little restless and crazy. So, we try to plan a stop where they can get out and run around for a while.
Do I make it sound easy and smooth? In reality, once we hit the road, I’m lucky if I get to sit down for maybe five minutes. Then someone needs or wants something — right away!
I am learning to say,”Okay, does everyone have their water? Does everyone have their tablet? Does anyone need anything? Mommy is going to sit down for a while.”
That usually gets me about 10 minutes before I am up again!
It is always important to have realistic expectations of what your kids can handle when traveling. Sometimes they may surprise you and be willing to go longer then you expected, so take advantage of it. Other times they may not be able to make it as far as you would have liked, but that’s okay.
Making it enjoyable for everyone requires planning ahead and being prepared with movies, apps, games, activities and plenty of food. But, be prepared to be flexible when needed. We have learned it is necessary to add at least two hours to any time frame that our GPS estimates for travel time. It is also a good idea to prepare everything the night before, rather than spending hours in the morning preparing and adding to the stress before we leave.
Traveling with kids is just like life — crazy, fun, stressful and unpredictable! Enjoy the ride.