Road Trips with Kids: A Survival Guide

Sure, you’ve been on road trips with your friends or your partner, but road trips with kids can be challenging (and sometimes even downright awful). So how do you survive a road trip with kids in the car? These are my best tips to help you prepare, keep you sane, and maybe even help you have some fun along the way!

Overplan Your Entertainment

On a recent road trip with our boys, the 10 hour drive to Colorado went so smoothly. The drive home, not so much. We hit traffic and it ended up taking about 11.5 hours. They got restless. I was so glad we had multiple options for entertainment. Here are our favorites:

Water Wow

These things are fantastic for young kids. I have no idea why they like them so much, but I’m not asking questions.

Downloaded Shows On The iPad

Look, I get it. You don’t want your kids to spend their vacation on screens. But having them available with boundaries can be a life saver. We usually download some episodes of a tv show or movie on Prime Video or Disney+ so we don’t have to rely on WiFi availability.

Podcasts for kids

They exist! And they’re great. Our favorites are Circle Round (a story time podcast) and Smash, Boom, Best (a debate on very important kid-related topics like whether pizza or tacos are better).

Manage Your Expectations

Be realistic about your expectations for when and where you’ll stop and add some padding to that. It’s uncomfortable for even adults to sit in a car for 12 hours in a day. Kids are going to have an ever tougher time. Find some spots along the way to let everyone stretch their legs, play, and get a snack or meal.

Plan Your Stops Wisely, But Be Flexible

How else would we have found this awesomely cheesy dinosaur cutout for pictures?!

You’ll likely need to stop more frequently on road trips with kids. Plan ahead to stop at least every 3 hours and look up about where that next stop will be before you hit the road again. This way you’ve got a goal in mind and you can tell your kids when you plan to stop. You can also make sure you know ahead of time where the towns are so you won’t be caught in the middle of nowhere needing a bathroom break. If you’re driving with a partner, you can have them look up a restaurant or playground to stop at for 30 minutes or so to give everyone something to look forward to.

There’s always something that doesn’t go exactly as you planned it, which is why planning your trip as you go in 3 hour blocks of time can be more manageable and allow you to be flexible if you need to. It also allows you to enjoy the journey rather than just the destination. Found a cool roadside attraction or a historical marker you want to check out? Great! Make an unscheduled stop there and adjust the plans for the rest of your day accordingly.

Prepare For EVERYTHING

You don’t want your kid to need to pee when you’re 50 miles from the next rest area or lose their lunch in a traffic jam, but what do you do to prepare? These are our road trip essentials. We take them with us every time (we actually leave them in the car in case of an impromptu long drive)! They give us so much peace of mind.

Barf Bags

Self explanatory and gross. Teach your kids to use them before you hit the road so they’re prepared just in case. I remind them that the bag covers their chin and nose, just like when they wear a mask. That helps keep the mess to a minimum.

A Car Potty

This thing has been a godsend, even just around town. It comes with absorbent bags that wrap around it so there’s no cleaning up the seat afterward and folds up to fit anywhere. I’ll be honest, I even used it once when we were in the middle of nowhere and I needed to pee. Don’t judge, y’all – the thing comes in handy. I’ll go ahead and leave this tip here since we’re talking about all the uses: if you’re in a pinch and a kid over 10 or an adult needs to use the car potty, throw some paper towels or an open diaper in there before they go to add a little extra absorption. No one ever said that using a car potty was pretty, but it’s good to know stuff like this!

Gallon Ziplocks, Paper Towels, and Clorox Wipes

You just never know. Whether you need them to hold an outfit that was ruined from a diaper blowout or a car potty bag once it’s been used, these are great to keep on hand.

Hopefully you’ll find these tips helpful for your upcoming road trips with kids! Do you have a great tip I left out? Share it with me in the comments!

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