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Challenge: Traveling with Kids

Essential Tips for a Family Road Trip

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Parents are often surprised that I enjoy taking road trips with my husband and 3 kids. I do really love them. There is no better way to discover a new destination then driving through a city or town. If you do a little prep and planning the drive can become part of the vacation and are often some of the best parts of the trip. Here are eight tips that have helped me get through 10+ hours in the car with the family and can help you plan a great family road trip.

Flying can save time. When working around school and work schedules it may be the only choice. But if you have the time you should consider a family road trip.

There is something special about spending time on the road as a family. You begin to discover different parts of your destination and it can be an unexpected adventure.

I am not promising quiet kids and no complaints. We have had meltdowns and kids puking. It has been chaotic and we can’t wait to get out of the car but it bonds us in a different way than flying does. Whether you love road trips or loathe them, these 8 tips will help you and your family have a happy road trip adventure.

Essentials for a Family Road Trip


When planning a long or short road trip you need some essentials. The things that will help you get through any mess along the way. I always pack the following:

  • Ziploc gallon bags/sandwich bags- For any accidents along the way and to hold extra stuff(crayons, food, etc.)
  • Bowls/Bags- We always bring a plastic bowl lined with a bag from your local grocery store. I bring lots of extra bags. My son often gets car sick and this helps with the clean up. The extra bags also helps with garbage control. I put one in the front with us and one in the back for the kids. They put tissues, food wrappers, etc. When they are full I throw them out at a gas station and replace them.
  • Water bottles/snack bowls- The kids bring a refillable one from home. I also buy the character cups that you can get at walmart/target for .99 cents. These are great for keeping snacks contained along the way.
  • Snacks!!!
  • Baby wipes, tissues, paper towels.
  • Change of clothes


New movies are a great way to pass the time when we are driving long trips. If it is a weekend trip we borrow them from our local library. If it is a longer trip we let each kid pick out a movie to buy. A lot of the stores have a $5 bin for movies and it is a great way to introduce them to different/classic stuff. My kids have really enjoyed discovering Looney Tunes. Another option is renting from Redbox, just be sure to check that your destination has a drop off box close by.

Jammy Jam

A Jammy Jam is my families take on the classic “mix-tape”. It is a must have for any road trip. We have been making them every year since 2008. My husband and I have a running list of music that we put together year round and then create a cd(or playlist) for the road trip.

Often we choose favorites that we grew up with and mix it up with music the kids like. It is something we always look forward to. My favorite part about it is listening to the music when we get back and throughout the year. It brings back great memories!!

Essentials for a Family Road Trip

Fun Packets

I try to make fun packets for my kids on most trips. Sometimes I will add coloring sheets of states we drive through or license plate bingo. Journaling pages are also great and can be used for any age. The big kids can write and the little kids can draw pictures. These are also great as a keepsake when we return home.

Crayons/Coloring Books & Sticker Books/Activity Books

I try to pick up new sticker books or activity books to surprise the kids on the road. Sometimes we go to the store and they choose. The Dollar Store has great ones and my kids love picking out a new book for the trip.


I bring a bunch of snacks my kids like and I try to include cut up fruit, grapes, and carrots. Its fun to go to the grocery store and allow each kid to pick out a snack they really like. When we get tired I bring out a special treat. Sometimes its a lollipop or candy, sometimes cookies. Just something to make the trip feel special.

Something Special From Home

Having something special from home can help your family feel better on long drives. It also helps in hotel rooms for a child that may feel home sick. For my kids this includes pillow, blanket, and their favorite stuffed animal. It can also be a action figure guy or a doll. Anything that makes your kids happy.

Essentials for a Family Road Trip


Remember the reason you planned this trip in the first place…to have a family adventure! The journey can be part of the trip and a little patience can go a long way in keeping the drive fun. Yes they will have to use the bathroom(a lot!), they will want snacks, and need things during the drive. If you approach it with a fun attitude and make it an adventure you will find that it can be enjoyable and you will create memories that will last a lifetime.

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