Road tripping is a great way to get out of town with the family! Driving is easier and often comes at a lower cost than flying to a new destination. But, having young children in close quarters can often lead to bickering or boredom. Therefore, it’s important to prepare and plan ways to keep them busy and happy. Today we’re listing a few tips to help keep your children at ease while traveling in the car.
1. Bring lots of snacks
Snacks are a great way to make young children happy and can even serve as a distraction when the hours on the road are starting to rack up. Try packing some healthy and not-so-messy snacks such as hard boiled eggs, carrot and celery sticks, apple slices, and trail mix. By having your own food on hand you can limit the amount of stops you have to make and cut down on unhealthy eating from fast food restaurants.
2. Have one parent sit in the back for a while
It’s a good idea to have one of the parents sit in the back of the car for a while to help spark conversation and encourage the kids to play with each other. Kids really benefit from one-on-one time with their parents and a road trip is the perfect time to give this to them. You can talk with them about the destination and what activities you have planned on the way there and ask them about what they liked most on the way home.
3. Play some classic road trip games
Try not to spend the entire road trip staring at screens. You can bring along some fun, classic road trip games such as a deck of cards or a trivia book to keep kids busy and have fun as a family. Craft supplies are also a fun way to keep kids entertained while on the road. Bring some crayons, paper, origami supplies, or even beads and string to make friendship bracelets.
4. Have a sing along
What better way to get everyone together than to enjoy some of your favorite songs. Make a road trip playlist prior to hitting the road and incorporate some of your kid’s favorite songs. You can even have your kids help make the playlist with you, to give them something to look forward to, or you can find a pre-made road trip playlist if you don’t have time to make your own.
5. Use electronics in moderation
Although you definitely don’t want to spend the entire car ride using electronics, some electronic use is a helpful way to occupy kids for shorter stretches of time. Electronics are especially useful for longer road trips. Allow your kids to pick their favorite movie to bring along for the car ride and tell them that once it’s over you’re taking a break from the screens. It’s good to give kids time away from screens to let their imaginations work.
6. Take safety into consideration
It’s important to prepare for any potential emergencies. Bring a list of important phone numbers such as family members, insurance companies, and roadside assistance, in case of an accident. You can also bring a first aid kid and emergency kit with extra food and supplies such as water or blankets if traveling in a colder climate. Always make sure that the driver is well rested, fed, and hydrated.
7. Plan plenty of stops
You will need to incorporate plenty of pit stops into your drive between bathroom breaks and giving everyone a chance to stretch their legs and move around. If you can find a park along the way, this is a great way to give your kids a chance to run around, burn off some energy, and get fresh air.
8. Listen to an audiobook together
Try to find a family-friendly audiobook that everyone in the family can appreciate. This can give everyone something to quietly focus on and it can be a topic of discussion later on. Audiobooks also serve as a source of entertainment but aren’t as all-consuming as staring at a screen or watching a movie.
9. Make sure kids are comfortable
You’ll want to make sure that all children are safely and comfortably strapped into their carseats. Be sure to double check that their car seats are properly installed before hitting the road and review any current regulations for car seats to make sure your kids are riding in the right size and style of car seat. You can also bring along pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals to help kids stay cozy in the back because they’ll likely want to nap at some point.
10. Include your kids in navigation
Bring a printed out map to show to your kids so that they can help with navigation and feel involved. This can also help you deal with the inevitable “are we there yet?” questions. Your kids will likely find the map interesting and it will give them something to focus on. Teaching kids how to read a map is also a valuable life skill.
11. Indulge a bit
Even though it’s great to bring along healthy snacks for the majority of the road trip, it’s also nice to give kids a little treat every once in a while. Start a road trip tradition such as allowing them to bring their favorite candy for the road or letting them get fast food. This will make them happy and help give them something to look forward to.
12. Be intentional with your drive time
Some parents choose to leave overnight, in an attempt to have their kids sleep for the whole car ride. This will likely work for some families but it can also backfire if your kids have a hard time sleeping in the car. If your kids are still taking a nap every day, you could plan to leave right before nap time, depending when this is. We recommend hitting the road as early in the day as possible, because this gives you plenty of time to get to your destination. Everything takes a little longer with kids and you’ll need to make time for plenty of pit stops, so the more time you give yourself to get to your destination, the better.
The Pop N’ Go Mini is the perfect, travel-size playpen to bring along for your next road trip with young children.