Written by: Nicole Ellis
A Road Trip With Kids: How To Keep The Adventure Fun
When you have kids, you certainly don’t need to stop traveling. You just need a new strategy to keep the adventure fun on a road trip with kids. You’ll need a little more preparation, flexibility, and patience. Family road trips are some of my favorite memories both from when I was a kid myself and now as a parent.
I talked with two awesome mamas who have beautiful blogs to help me come up with the best tips for a road trip with kids.
Break The Road Trip With Kids Up Into Smaller Segments
Alright, to the tips!
Now is not the time to pump out 16 hours of driving in a day. Shorter drives each day will be less overwhelming for the kids and it allows you to make frequent stops. Enjoying little attractions along the way makes the trip feel more about the journey than the destination.
Make The Gas Stops Fun
If you’re driving through new states, checkout any unique, state-specific foods you could try. For example, in California you can get local pistachios, olives, garlic, etc.
Treat new states and towns like fun milestones. Pick out things for the kids to remember along the way.
Trip Toys For A Road Trip With Kids
Plan ahead to keep the kids entertained. You can buy new toys/games specifically for the trip. Or, which works great with younger kids, hide some of their favorite toys several months before the trip and then "bring them on board" the day of the trip. Toddlers will be super happy as if they are getting a new toy.
You can also divide the toys up so they get a new one at different points in the trip!
The next three tips are from Lydia. She is located in New England and she is an expert on road trips, hiking, camping, and solo adventuring with kids! Check out her beautiful travel blog with road trip itineraries and more great ideas for a road trip with kids. And find her on Instagram @myadventuregang!
Kids or no kids, no road trip is complete without snacks.
Bring a full assortment of your standard snacks. As well as snacks that are special and reserved for times that need that extra boost of motivation to get through. Sometimes a hike or a long stretch of driving needs a pick-me-up.
Fill your center console between the driver and passenger seats with easy-to-distribute snacks like granola bars.
A bento box Tupperware container is perfect for each child. I’ll fill them with an assortment of snacks before we start driving.
Go overboard on the options! Giving them a choice from a wide selection gives them a feeling of control and increases the likelihood they will eat something. It’s hard to complain when there is food in your mouth.
Keep Your Expectations Low
If you keep your expectations low, no even lower, you increase the likelihood you won't be disappointed and will have fun. Assume that there will be tantrums and messed-up routines. And even a mishap or two so when they inevitably arise you are not devastated that the perfect trip you planned for your family is ruined.
Any adventure, especially those with kids, needs a heavy dose of flexibility. Plan, prepare and then let it all go. Remember that everything is temporary and the chaos will make a really funny story if you give it enough time.
No matter how much you plan and prepare, you just don't know what your road trip with kids will be like until you just do it. No amount of hemming and hawing about getting your ducks in a row for your first big trip will be the same as real-world practice.
I could tell you exactly what activities and supplies I brought on our first road trip till I am blue in the face. But what works for my kids might not work for your kids. Honestly, what worked for my kids 6 months ago might not work for my kids today. Don't let analysis paralysis get in the way of a good time. Just go for it and remember to have fun!