9 Road Trip Tips When Traveling With Kids

By Bridgette Petrino | parenting tips

May 09

Why we road trip

I love road trips. And that’s a good thing because, actually, I am kind of afraid to fly. I know, it’s not a great reason to road trip, but, I’ll talk about that more in another post…

There are actually a couple of other reasons why we road trip versus fly.

One reason is because it is cheaper than buying five plane tickets.

Another is because depending on how far we are traveling, it is actually easier and more convenient to just jump in the car than getting to, from, and through the airport.

And finally, we road trip because we can bring as much stuff as we want and whatever we want. We don’t travel light. I usually pack food, water, snacks, and all types of conveniences so that we save money and eat healthier all through out our vacation.

Our family of five takes a road trip on average of once a year. So, we’ve probably taken about a dozen at this point – and our next one is coming up soon so it has me preparing.

I have pretty much gotten this down to a science.

So, here are my top Road Trip Tips for traveling with kids.

1. Travel with a portable potty.

I know it’s kind of weird and gross, but this will be a lifesaver for those times when you randomly get stuck in traffic and your 2-year-old can’t wait an extra 15 minutes till you get to some shady gas station in the middle of nowhere.

There are some really clean and convenient fold up potties out there for under $20. I love this one.

2. Take your time.

If we are traveling more than 10 hours we will stay at a hotel for one night and break up our travel time into two days.

In that case, we pack an overnight bag and keep it easily accessible so that when we get to the hotel we aren’t digging through a ton of bags to find what we need.

Either way, expect to take frequent breaks. I often have my kids run around or do stretches and exercises at each stop.

3. Get the energy out.

Taking your time leads me to my next tip… releasing energy.

One of my favorite places to stop when we need a break is Chick Fil-A. It is always clean and they always have an indoor playground. So, no matter the weather the kids can get some energy out.

Our strategy is to let them play for a bit, take bathroom breaks, and then take our food to go. That way they can eat in the car. It not only kills time in the car but since they would be sitting down to eat anyway it might as well be in the car while we are driving.

There is a Chick-Fil-A app so you can find the nearest one easily… just make sure it’s not a Sunday because they are closed!

4. Make the most of your stops.

If you want to stop at a restaurant to sit down and have a meal our favorite place is Cracker Barrel. They are nice because they have a little store with toys and trinkets so the kids can walk around and check out all the little things for sale. They also have table games to play while you wait.

It’s a great way to stretch your legs and stay entertained. Because let’s face it, after about an hour, road trips start to get boring.

5. Activity boxes.

Before a road trip, I always go to a dollar store, Five Below, or the dollar section of Target/Walmart and pick up some activity books, playdough, stickers, puzzles, etc. 

I pack each child her own activity box. If you use a shoe box the lid doubles as a tray. The lid can be flipped over so crayons/markers don’t roll onto the floor. Or, fill up a cup with pencils/crayons/markers and put it in a cup holder within reach.

We sometimes cover the shoe box with paper and have the kids decorate and personalize the box during the car ride. 

6. Pack snacks.

Packing snacks really goes without saying. I love to stock up on cereal, bottled water, dried fruit, crackers, etc. Pack in bulk anything that doesn’t have to be refrigerated. I bring extra so we have snacks at the hotel and for the ride home. I buy full size boxes of everything and then just bring a box of baggies. That way I can divide it out.

7. Keep the car clean and organized.

Bring trash bags, hand sanitizer, paper towels and disinfectant wipes for the car ride. There is nothing worse than having trash all over the car. It gets really gross really fast.

8. Keep the hotel clean and organized.

I always pack a collapsible hamper when we travel. It’s a great way to keep our dirty clothes separate from the clean ones when we pack up to go home (because I ALWAYS over pack!)

This one fits right in your suitcase and closes up so nothing falls out on the ride home.

I also always pack a collapsible drying rack. This is so we don’t have wet bathingsuits hanging all over the room. I also like to bring a mini dish detergent (to wash sippy cups) and a mini laundry detergent (to hand wash a sandy bathing suit without needing to go to the laundry mat).

I use this one.

9. Encourage a good night’s sleep.

Before kids, going on vacation meant sleeping in. Now, it means getting less sleep than when we are at home. So, we do our best to keep everyone comfortable.

I have an app on my tablet that is a nightlight and a sound machine. This drowns out any noisy hotel doors slamming or people talking in the hallways and helps when someone has to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Moving the show

As parents, we realize that going on vacation with little ones is really just “moving the show.”

So, in order to relax and refresh, prepare ahead of time so that you can focus on spending quality time with each other and making memories.

What are some must haves that you pack when traveling with kids? Do you have any other tips that I could add to the list? 


 

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About the Author

Bridgette is Founder and CEO of Mommy Needs a Timeout. She empowers moms to reconnect with their identities OUTSIDE of being a mom, without the guilt.

  • Awesome post Bridgette! Thank you for sharing!

  • Suzanne

    Love the idea of taking food to go for after you stop. Such a great idea! I’m also curious on where you’ve found mini detergent. I have wished for that when we travel, but I haven’t seen the little bottles. Where have you found them?

    • Bridgette Petrino

      Thank you! I have found them at Target. You can also usually get them at convenience stores. Or, purchase some “pods” and put a few in a baggie. 🙂

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