Posted by: ad65shorty | June 5, 2009

Road Trips with Kids

Summer is upon us, school is out, and now is the time for traveling. But, traveling long distances with children can be a challenge. How do you keep them entertained so they stop asking, “Are we there yet?” Today, I will share a couple of my own ideas, as well as some great ideas from around the web. Feel free to share your own tips, as well.

My first thought is always entertainment. We travel about once a year to see my husband’s family, who is located about 12 hours away (one-way). We’re too cheap to stay in a hotel halfway so I literally have to plan for 24 hours of entertainment for two children. Here are some ideas:

DVD player–We invested in one of these a couple of years ago (got a cheap version, around $100, I believe). It’s been one of the best investments we ever made! When my son was a toddler, I’d show a lot of Baby Einstein’s borrowed from a friend. Now, I pack a small bag with about 6 videos in it. Sometimes, I’ll purchase a new one for the novelty, but mostly, we just take along our all-time favorites. I like to save these for hours into the trip when the kids start to get bored or when it’s naptime. They help pass the time.

Toys–I pack a whole bag full of small toys. I sort through and put them into Ziplocks according to similarities (I use the sandwich-size). That way, I can pull out one Ziplock at a time, and when the kids are done, they can put everything back easily. I like to include favorites, of course, as well as some that are not as familiar. Because I taught school for many years, I have a lot of educational-type toys that my children are unfamiliar with. I love to tote these along. I also always buy them a surprise toy of some sort–something small (this last time, my daughter got a new baby; my son got a new monster truck; all for less than $5). Once again, I save it for later in the trip. It’s nice to have something brand-new to enjoy!

Books–I always toss a couple of favorites into the toy bag. Now, I get carsick so I can’t read the books to the kids while traveling so I make sure the books are familiar so the kids can look at them independently. Plus, these are so nice for bedtime once we get to our destination.

Art activities–This is always a favorite for my children! I also throw in a couple of art supplies (no scissors) that they can use to create. Beads or noodles and string for making necklaces are fun. My toddler likes pipe cleaners. And we never leave home without our ColorWonder books! I only buy these for road trips because they are kind of pricey, but it’s so worth it! My kids have spent full trips just coloring in these. I love them because there is no mess, and I don’t have to deal with crayons.

Music–For both the kids and the parents. It’s fun to make a CD with your kids’ favorite songs!

Snacks–A must!! We just take along our cooler with frozen water bottles and healthy snacks, such as grapes and carrot sticks. Often, I’ll pack Ziplocks (can you tell that I LOVE these?) with sandwich toppings for a picnic lunch at a park somewhere. I pack each item separately so things don’t get soggy. There is nothing worse than a soggy sandwich 6 hours into a trip! We can then make our sandwiches fresh with whatever items we want. It’s great and saves money! I also bring along finger food, such as granola bars and snack packs with crackers. My kids love fruit snacks on vacations. And we always pack something sweet, like licorice or M&Ms, to enjoy!

Games–My kids are still little so we don’t play too many travel games yet. My son can do the ABC game, and he also enjoys rhyming games. Sometimes I’ll pack some card games, like Go Fish or Old Maid. These are also great for when you get to your destination. Here is a link to some great travel games:

Now that your children are entertained, here are some items that are just nice to have on-hand when traveling:

Wet wipes/Napkins–Nice for just about anything! Spills, sticky fingers, diapers, vomit (yes, we get this a lot!), etc. We bring along a huge pack, in addition to the one in the diaper bag and in our suitcase. We keep a huge wad of napkins in each car door.

Towels–Because we do have some motion sickness in my family, I always throw in a couple of clean towels. I learned this the hard way when my son got sick on the freeway going into L.A. at rush hour! We had NOTHING to clean up with but his blanket and wet wipes. Now, I always make sure to have these on-hand.

Extra clothes–I usually bring my diaper bag along because it has everything I need and it’s so easy to throw in a couple of extras, just in case. I put in more diapers than normal so that I don’t have to dig through the trunk. I also put in about 2 complete sets of clothes for the kids, just in case of spills or vomit or poop or whatever else kids may do to their clothes! It’s convenient to just have it on-hand and not have to dig through a suitcase (think trip to L.A.). See?! I’ve learned a couple of things in my almost 5 years as a mom.

Plastic bags–I just stuff these in one bag and put it under my seat. Great for garbage collecting, vomit (again!), dirty clothes, or whatever else you may need. I love that they can just be thrown away after and don’t take up a lot of space.

My friend, Marie from Make and Takes, just had a lady guest post on her site about this very topic. She has some fabulous ideas, my favorite being a portable potty! Check her ideas out here:

Hopefully, this has given you some ideas. Once again, feel free to share your own or any links to others. Happy travels this summer, where ever they may take you!



  1. Great Ideas! I’m reading this the morning we got back from our trip to California. I wish I had read this earlier. But there is more trips to come this summer!

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